Onward!: Mapping Your Practice’s Trajectory

Onward!: Mapping Your Practice’s Trajectory



In about a week and a half, independent practices will be operating in a “post ICD-10 world.” That’s post ICD-10, not “post-apocalyptic.” Changes to medical coding and billing will not bring feral, irradiated patients to your waiting room.

This inevitable changeover, while difficult, presents small practices with the pretext they need to reevaluate their recent performance, and long-term goals. What do we mean by this, exactly? ICD-10 will affect some degree of change to most of your practice’s daily operations. This may prompt you to think about what else may need to change.

When looking over this past year, would you classify your practice as ahead of the game, or is it struggling? Which aspects need a major overhaul, and which ones could just use a coat of paint, so to speak? Were you able to accomplish what you set out to, or did you experience a failure to launch? What may be preventing this? Maybe you’ve been standing in your own way, and now is the time to acknowledge the issues, be proactive, and fix them.

Strengths and weaknesses

You will have to be very honest with yourself here. This assessment may mean staff-wide performance reviews, which are never very pleasant. One or two sour online reviews might not mean much. But if your practice’s profile reveals consistent negative patient experiences, then it’s time for everyone to rework their bedside manner.

Assessing strengths and weaknesses also involves measuring your practice against your key competitors in the area. What primary, and possibly secondary services do you offer? What demographics do you primarily serve, and which ones would you like to extend your services to?

Next, take a look at your “competitive advantages.” This is a list of things you are best at, things about your practice that may give you an edge over your competitors. We’ve touched upon several of these potential edges in previous posts. How new is your facility, and what amenities does your waiting room boast? How new is your equipment, and computer software? Most importantly, do you and other key members of your staff have all necessary certifications under your belts? Does your practice boast any PAs or nurse practitioners (NPs) on its roster?

Implementing a strategy

Yes, we’ve all heard this before. A clear, but flexible game-plan is the backbone of successful practice management. The issue usually isn’t drafting a strategy, it’s executing it. You may have essential short, and long term goals in mind, but you’ll get nowhere if you revert back to the same old practices and processes. Every work process, every method for achieving daily goals must be reviewed for performance. Then, a system must be implemented for measuring their efficacy against that of some proposed new ones. This allows you to dump extraneous initiatives, and prioritize anew.

Your practice, as we’ve covered in previous posts, is a business, and its growth as such should be part of your strategy. Every staff member will impact this part of the strategy by their daily performance. Part of this is time-management and task completion. But other things also affect the budget and the bottom line, like overall patient experience. It is imperative that every staff member understands their connection to the success of the new strategy. Individual and practice-wide performance measures, like incentives for meeting goals, can help toward this end.

In a previous post, we talked about the importance of protégés in implementing a new plan. Now would be a good time to identify who those individuals are. More than just your sounding boards, they can actually help you articulate your practice’s mission statement, and new strategy. It is important to have the input of people other than your office manager. No matter how groundbreaking or brilliant it may be, a strategy must have the full backing and support of the entire practice. Everyone must understand their roles going forward. There will be a level of resistance from your staff, rest assured. For some it may be a simple case of confusion, while others may view the new system as “favoring” certain employees over others.

As with most things, communication becomes vital here, and must take on many forms. It will take more than one meeting to reach your staff. Communication must be consistent, and will include intermittent e-mail reminders and presentations to keep them in the loop about progress made. This consistency ensures mutual understanding of, and commitment to the future of your practice.

You are, in the end, selling a unique vision, not to just anyone, but those you will rely on to carry it out. Make sure it is as clear as possible, and then ask yourself the following: is this something I could get behind? How you answer this question will dictate the execution of your strategy.


Brian Torchin

| HCRC Staffing | |