Building a successful medical practice is not a short-term project with a final end result. While measureable goals along the way can help practices gauge their progress, success—especially in any type of ongoing business—is more a state of being that practices can maintain if their policies are thorough and consistently enforced and if their dedication is sincere. This state of being will directly translate to increased practice revenue.
While there is no perfect formula, success does tend to follow those who embrace certain key goals and characteristics as part of their daily drive and mission within the practice. Below are attributes of successful medical practices that have directly contributed to their success.
A culture of mutual respect and collaboration.
Culture is one of those strongly felt, but somewhat undefinable aspects of any environment. Since a positive, nurturing culture is often the core element in a successful medical practice, medical professionals have dedicated a great deal of time and resources to establishing how such a culture is achieved.
According to David Anderson, whose focus paper was published online by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), “Culture has been studied for over 80 years by industrial psychologists, anthropologists, and members of numerous other professional disciplines whom have shown time and time again that workers are more productive and have better attitudes when they are recognized and when concern for their working conditions is expressed.”
To that end, medical practice leaders play an important role, as do the clinicians and doctors who provide medical care and are assisted by nurses and other staff. They must lead the way in both demonstrating and strictly enforcing policies of mutual respect among all practice staff. Equally important is showing that the experience and intelligence of each member of the team is valued through collaborative efforts, especially those that would improve overall practice operations.
The right people in clearly defined roles.
Qualifications should not be the only reason for selecting a new team member. Obviously, experience and education are important, but building a successful medical practice is also about attitude, flexibility, and responsibility. The highest, most prestigious medical degree can’t make up for a contentious personality or a lack of respect for support staff when it comes to general practice.
Additionally, everyone in the practice needs to understand what is expected of them and how they can contribute to daily operations. Successful medical practices distinguish between different office and care roles to ensure all members of the team can feel confident in the work they do. Of course, this concept should also be tied into practice culture. It’s not acceptable to leave something undone just because “it’s not my job.” As one source put it, “Yes, everyone has core roles, but teams need fluidity. They must talk to each other, their work may need to overlap at times, and they must make it work for the patient’s best interest.”
Data monitoring and benchmarking for better decision-making.
Modern technology has made many things possible that once seemed beyond our abilities. One of those for modern businesses and medical practices is the ability to gather data quickly and efficiently, then use that data to identify trends and analyze potential variables. It’s a decision-maker’s dream come true.
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Successful medical practices have recognized the value in utilizing technology to its fullest. They often implement programs that not only improve internal office efficiency and patient interaction capabilities, but also provide a multitude of ways to track different aspects of the day-to-day operations within the practice. For instance, tracking patient no-show numbers, bad debt, and billing and coding data can establish areas for improvement that practice leadership can target to help bring the numbers and the people back on track.
Healthy respect for and dedication to regulatory compliance.
It goes without saying that successful medical practices follow regulatory requirements as consistently and thoroughly as possible—as should all medical practices, highly successful or not.
However, those practices that are more likely to come out ahead tend to keep track of changes in both the political climate and the regulatory standards of other states and nations. Considering that Europe is roughly 10 years ahead of the U.S. in many ways, as evidenced with the ICD-10 switch over, practices can predict and anticipate future regulatory changes by staying apprised of medical standards across the world, not just in the U.S.
Future-oriented mindset, with quality of care at the center.
Most successful medical practices become so by setting goals and adhering to high standards of quality. Barring unforeseeable setbacks—natural disasters, for instance, seem to be a popular occurrence these days—good planning and shared goals among the staff can keep any practice on a path towards improvement. Those goals, however, should not center around profit and financial gain. They can’t, not if the practices truly hopes to be successful.
In healthcare, particularly in the current climate of social media and many patients’ desire for more convenience in their provider hours and interaction, the patient is all. Ultimately, the patients decide the success of the practice and most internal goals need to revolve around providing a safe, comfortable, and cost effective experience in order for the practice to flourish. Encouraging and supporting patients in improving their health and providing the right kind of flexibility along the way will secure that outcome, particularly for small family-focused practices.
There are rarely guarantees in life, but there are always patterns. No outcome is certain, but a practice that focuses on its patients, supports its staff, and adheres to the highest quality in care goals will ultimately see a pattern of improvement that will spiral out to all aspects of the organization—resulting in a level of success that will see the practice grow and thrive.
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