Dr. CEO: Running Your Practice Like a Business

By: Kay Wakeham
Friday, June 28, 2013

The move to value-based purchasing is driving physicians to improve the quality of their results to maximize reimbursement by Medicare and other insurers. Many physicians assume that effective practice management is the key to running a successful practice.

Practice management is important, but it only focuses on the delivery of care, not on the business of medicine. Business management can take the practice to the next level. It involves a future vision of the practice, strategies and key goals to achieve the vision, as well as implementation processes that result in higher quality and reduced costs.

Why don’t more physicians utilize business management in their practice?

One reason is that most physicians are not trained in business strategy. Some physicians hire a business manager and assume the manager understands business management. Most business managers are experienced in practice management, not business management. Other physicians bring in a CPA or consultant to develop their business strategy. What’s missing in this scenario is collaboration. In reality, the vision and strategy of the practice can only be determined by the practice owner(s) and should not be delegated.

How can busy physician owner(s) implement business management in their practice?

One alternative is to engage a business coach to help guide them through a strategic business management process. Physician owners bring the expertise of the practice to the table while a business coach brings the knowledge of the process. Through this collaborative effort, a practice can develop and implement a strategic plan and business management process.

What are the steps in the strategic planning process?

A great way to start the process is to schedule a full-day strategic retreat with the physician owner(s) and any key employees. In this session, the business coach acts as a facilitator of the strategic planning process. Some key deliverables from the strategic retreat include an assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), a three-year vision, strategies or direction, and key goals for achieving the vision.

After the strategic plan is developed, what’s next?

The most successful organizations ensure that all employees’ individual goals align with company goals. Alignment is critical to execution. Without it, leaders resort to pushing and pulling their employees to focus on the right things. The physician owner(s) must “sell” the vision to their employees to engage them in the business management process. This means all employees must see what’s in it for them if the practice vision is achieved. Once individual goals are established, everyone should be held accountable for their results.

What are the benefits of utilizing business management in your practice?

You can expect overall improvement in your results in key areas, such as profitability, employee productivity and retention, patient satisfaction and retention, quality, and an increase in the value of your practice. While the process requires an investment of time and money, your return could be as high as five- to six-fold.

For more information about implementing business management in your practice, email Kay Wakeham, M.B.A., PHR, Chief Performance Officer at The Growth Coach of San Antonio at k.wakeham@thegrowthcoach.com or call (210) 492-2400.