Five Steps to Taking Charge of Your Practice

There are many reasons physicians feel stressed with today’s current state of medicine. With external factors such as the regulatory environment, declining reimbursement, increased malpractice liability and an educated (and somewhat demanding) patient population, it’s no wonder physicians feel a lack of control over the future of their practice.

When so many external factors influence the way physicians practice medicine, it’s time they pause and consider what is important personally and professionally. When physicians can identify what is truly important and align both their professional and personal lives in a way that strategically moves them from where they are now to where they want to be, then so much more is possible. While the following steps are simple, they are definitely not easy. They take commitment, focus, and accountability.

Step 1: Consider what is currently working and not working in the practice setting. Key areas to focus on include: practice operations, financial results, practice growth, staffing, information technology and patient satisfaction.

Step 2: Once a current snapshot of the practice is understood, create a compelling vision (i.e., an ideal state) for how you would like the practice to look in the next 6-12 months. Focus on some of the same areas as noted in step one and create mini-visions for each category.

Step 3: To close the gap between where you are today and where you want to be, prioritize vision elements; set specific c goals; create tangible and meaningful strategies/tactics that will contribute to a successful medical practice; and create/implement an execution plan.

Step 4: Anticipate obstacles that may get in your way while executing ideas. Barriers can include intangibles (e.g., fear) or tangibles (e.g., specific people who may sabotage the process). Once these are identified, you are in a position to create strategies for minimizing them so that they become less influential as you move toward your goals.

Step 5: Build accountability into your execution plan and evaluate progress so that you stay focused and on track. This will also help you celebrate accomplishments and modify the plan where appropriate.

Bonus Step: Another critical component of Taking Charge of Your Practice is to consider what perspective you currently hold about your practice and medical career. What words or phrases do you use to describe your practice/career when asked, “How is your medical practice?” or “How do you like being a physician?” If your first reaction is to say something negative, then you are giving control and power to external forces influencing the health care industry. Change the way you think about what you do because this will empower you to make meaningful practice and career changes. The old adage rings true, “For things to change, first I must change.”

If you are not naturally comfortable devising strategic and/or business plans, tap into the skill set from someone on your staff or from an external professional.

It’s critical that your business plan explicitly follows the vision for your practice and that this vision is communicated from the top down. If not, your progress will be disconnected, short-lived and restricted. You deserve to control your practice and not let your practice control you. Take the time to invest in this process so that you/your practice can experience long-term and meaningful improvement.