October 02, 2020
Doctor Ma. Haidee L. Ibañez, M.D.
Medical practice can either be large or small. Whatever the case may be, some are quite successful than others. Perhaps a more important question to ponder though is what makes a medical practice successful? Is it because ofhow the staff run the operations on a day-to-day basis? Does it rely on the popularity and expertise of the medical practitioner or is it due to the marketing strategy of the operations manager?
Profitable and successful medical practice usually have happy, contented, and involved physicians and staff. But there exist practices that struggle to pay bills and have high staff turnover. This usually leaves the physicians and the staff displeased. The difference between the two practices above lies on a couple of factors. Patient population, culture, geographic location, and physician popularity greatly affect the success of a practice. But then again, how a practice is being managed has a lot more to do with success.
In 2018, a survey done by Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) revealed definite elements common between those classified as successful practices. The survey involved 676 practices deemed to perform better in terms ofoperations, productivity, cost-effectiveness and significance.
According to Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright, chief executive officer of MGMA, success was not solely centered on profitability and operations but also with physician contentment in their work. Moreover, culture played a big role on physician satisfaction. A practice that has a great culture cultivates a healthy environment where the physician and staff thrive. Although not imparted in medical school, she added that teamwork is a key ingredient in the success.
How do we identify a successful medical practice? What are the traits that we can look for? The following is a list of traits of a successful medical practice:
Patient-Oriented Medical Practice
Patient engagement is an important part of the practice because it could affect patient satisfaction which could result to more patients hence, more profit. Better-performing practices have been noted to expand opportunities for patient engagement whenever possible. The evolution of healthcare system is now focused on the patients and not the physicians. Before, medical practice was developed around the convenience of the physicians’ schedule and availability. Recently, healthcare has become patient-centered.
Patient portals are online applications that are health-related. These allow patients easy medical access to consult and interact with healthcare providers. Despite the advantages of the patient portals, not all physicians are approved of it because proper physical examination could not be done.
More Patients, More Chances of Winning
Primary care practices that have 300 or more patients were found to be better performing than their contemporaries. An increase in patient encounters would not only mean a greater profit but it would also mean that patient and physician engagement is satisfactory.
Practices that are open to suggestions and receptive to feedback have a higher chance of success. Physician and staff satisfaction surveys could help uncover discontent hence; room for improvement is much greater. Though many are not comfortable in airing out their discontent, it is vital for operations to solicit criticism in order for that dissatisfaction to be addressed.
Medical practices should invest in personnel and cross training of the staff for them to be able to perform tasks that could help when needed. Every staff should not only be trained to do his or her work but also be trained to perform other roles when necessary. The staffs should also be trained well on how to use the latest tools and equipment.
Communication is Key
Effective communication is very important in every aspect of teamwork. Better-performing practices been observed to have improved communications than others. Various types of communications could include monthly meetings that could address the recognized problems, daily, or weekly short meetings that could help in answering urgent issues. It was also shown that monthly newsletters and email updates containing evaluation of practice goals could help the physician and staff evaluate themselves.
Continuing Medical Education
Medical knowledge is constantly shifting especially with the evolution of new technologies, methods, and research studies. Continued learning was found to be adapted by better-performing practices. Constant training and education would not only make the staff moreknowledgeable but it would also make them feel more confident with themselves and with the work that they are doing. If a practice invests in the continued learning and education of the staff, they would feel valued by the team which could result to a positive work environment.
To attain financial success, it is very critical to stay within the budget plan. It was detected that better performing practices closely monitor and follow their budget plans. Financial plans do not only involve accounting but also the legality of the practice, the taxes, and financial strategies. To have a successful practice,financial assessment must routinely be done to assess what is going well, what needs more attention and what needs to be revised.
Part of continued learning is the evolution of technologies. Better-performing practices invest in adding new technology, tools, and equipment in order to improve the operations. In obtaining new technology, there should be staff member assigned to do research on the latest technology. For some patients, a practice with the latest technology is the best practice, hence investing in new technology could attract more patients.
Kane L.8 Traits of a Successful Medical Practice: MGMA 2018. Medscape. October 3 2018.