Get Your Practice Ready for 2019
Written by Editor   
Monday, September 03, 2018 07:16 PM

Is your practice ready for 2019? Here are some tips to help make the upcoming year successful.

Many doctors work hard to run their businesses and make as much money as possible.  They work for their family and their future retirement but many lack specific benchmarks, goals, or plans to actually achieve such future goals. Many fail to craft the business plans necessary to ensure the business cashflow is present to fund desired future plans.  A business planis vital for the hard times, but it’s equally important when things are good. You should have a good understanding of how much you are making, how much of that you are keeping, and a plan to maintain or increase your success. Such details include marketing, cashflow, purchasing, hiring, onboarding providers/partners, and even your eventual exit strategy.

And while many doctors have the basics like malpractice insurance, some life and disability coverage, and some liability insurance for the office, a competent asset protection plan for a practice owner should cover all the predictable exposures for which you may be legally responsible.  These might include data breaches, premises liability including acts of violence and mass shootings, employee lawsuits, executive and fiduciary liability, payer audits and business interruption, and losses of all kinds, as just a few examples. Frequently, doctors are either un-insured or under-insured against such risks.  Remember that Liability insurance the best, cheapest first line of defense and an indispensable, non-negotiable business expense.  Insurance works best like a bullet-proof vest; it’s a system of many layers. Buy all the right kinds of insurance in the right amount, until it hurts. It is vital, but incomplete on its own, so always have a good back-up plan for claims that are uncovered or are above your limits.

Does your business have all the required formal legal documents it should? If your answer is yes, the next question is are they stored and managed in a way and place that they are easily accessible to yourself and others if you are unavailable?  Often a panicked “search and rescue” operation occurs during an emergency, after a death, or when a key employee leaves or is terminated, etc. Here are some of the most basic items you should be able to lay hands on at any given time that can mitigate such a “search and rescue” operation:

  1. Corporate formation documents, including articles of incorporation and corresponding operating agreements, buy-sell agreements, licenses, permits, corporate retirement plan records. etc.
  2. All insurance policies
  3. Tax records and returns
  4. Bank records
  5. A professionally drafted, state-specific employment manual
  6. Business contracts, both internal and with third parties and corresponding invoices for a reasonable period of time 

Also part of your business plan should be employee management. The Medical Group Management Association’s 2018 Practice Operations Survey examined comparative data from more than 1,000 organizations, and found  

  1. Medical practices with an employee appreciation program generally saw lower turnover than their counterparts without one.
  2. Among primary care practices with an employee appreciation program, business operations support staff turnover was 4.55 percent. That compares to 5 percent at their counterparts.
  3. Primary care practices with an employee appreciation program also saw lower clinical support staff turnover than their counterparts (14.84 percent versus 16.67 percent). 

Yet despite the efforts of many a well-intended leader, disengaged employeesare ever present. Understanding how to better motivate employeesand even how to build better relationships with employeesremains at the top of many leaders’ agendas.  A recent studyon the state of employee engagement surveyed more than 700 HR professionals, and one of the key survey questions asked was, “Which of the following factors are most highly linked to employee engagement in your organization?”  At the very top of the heap, 77 percent of survey respondents cited trust of their leader as the most important factor. 

You can build a stronger foundation of trust. You can become more trustworthy. Here’s how:

  • Truly listen and act on what you hear. Communication not only breaks down when the sender isn’t sending well, but also (more commonly) when the receiver isn't receiving. Listening isn't waiting for your turn to talk. It's committing to absorbing what the other person is saying and sending signals of absorption (a head nod, a knowing smile, etc.). Then comes the acid test--do you actually act on what the person has said? Visibly doing so sends the clear message that you've been actively listening--and that the transmission had an impact. Thus, people will trust that you’ll listen in the future, and will have increased trust you.

  • Give credit where it is due. While you're amply dolng out that credit, make sure it's warranted. Leaders that hand out praise for every little thing to every single person erode trust almost as fast as the opposite—so make it warranted and worthy. And don't forget to humbly and graciously take credit when it's bestowed upon you. Sidestepping credit up to a point is admirable, but you don’t want to be disingenuous if you and everyone else know that you were an integral part of the thing for which you’re receiving credit.

  • Care about their careers as much as they do.  Talk to employees, really understand what they want from their career. Help them articulate what they want, not what they're supposed to want. 

  • Practice what you preach. People look for congruency to make sense of the world. When you say one thing but do another, it creates an incongruence. When the words don't match the pictures trust exits. In such times, people try to make sense of who you really are and what your agenda really is, and that’s not where you want them spending their energy. 

  • Be transparent–always. There’s nothing more transparent than when someone’s not being transparent, and it creates searing doubt. Of course, there are cases when a leader can't be transparent, like when they can't disclose information for a variety of reasons. When someone has the option to be upfront and forthright and chooses instead to withhold information, to tell half-truths, or to operate with hidden agendas, trust is eroded.

  • Model selfless behavior. Nothing draws trusts like acting on someone's interest other than your own. Do it once, and you'll create a good feeling. Do it a few more times, and you'll create a few fans. Do it as a default, and you’ll create a following.

These tips, and more besides, can help to improve your success in the coming year.  Start now to prepare for 2019, it will be upon you all too soon.