Archive for December, 2006

Are you busy and efficient with your time, or busy and inefficient with your time?

December 28, 2006

We rarely meet a healthcare professional who is not extremely busy. However, this “busy-ness” is not always caused by having too many patients. This is a bitter pill for some healthcare professionals to swallow, but many clinicians can improve the way that they manage their time, in order to earn a higher income. Also, even if a healthcare professional has too many patients, he or she may not have the most profitable mix of patients.

Our systems challenge you to take a look at how you spend your time, to assess your management practices, and to evaluate which payers and services are profitable for you. Sometimes the best answer is to renegotiate or cancel certain payer contracts; you end up seeing fewer patients and yet your profits increase. Other times we find that a healthcare practice does have room to see more patients, if it runs more efficiently.

At the same time, healthcare is becoming more and more competitive. It is important to stay on top of local market conditions and help to shape them, instead of reacting to unfavorable changes and threats when it is too late. To do that, you have to free up time from less valuable activities and make time for additional strategic activities.

We are all busy. The question is whether we are getting the best results possible in exchange for our precious time.

Think of your referral base as an Othello game board

December 28, 2006

Do you remember the game “Othello”? The game consists of a board laid out like a chessboard (but with more squares) and a stack of black and white chips.

The object of the game is to control an entire board with chips of your color (either white or black). The way to do this is to lay down chips so that two chips of your color outflank a row of chips of your opponent’s color.

You might think of your referral base the same way.

Your community is the game board. Each square represents potential referral sources. Your goal is to have each referral source become educated about how your practice serves patients, and to think of you first when they find someone with a health-related problem you can solve.

Most healthcare professionals don’t think aggressively enough about controlling the “game board” of referral sources in their community.

There are tactful, educational ways to develop your referral base — without feeling awkward or inauthentic.

One of the exercises we do here at The Healthcare Marketing and Practice Management Institute is to ask healthcare professionals to think in a systematic, disciplined way about the entire universe of potential referral sources in their community. Usually we find that these professionals have a respectable base of referral sources already, but they have not developed a systematic and proactive program to develop new referral sources while nurturing the existing referral relationships.

For instance, we recently worked with a physician practice that had offices near each of the two hospitals in their community, one on either side of town. An analysis revealed that the practice had done an excellent job developing loyalty from referral sources on the East side of town, but had barely penetrated the potential referral sources on the West side of town.

Once they recognized this fact, we went to work to educate a variety of potential referral sources on this side of town — while also taking care to thank and update existing sources.

As in the game Othello, if you don’t control the board, somebody else will. Don’t let things evolve naturally when you think about referrals. Rather, develop a proactive (and tactful) strategy.