Focus on Three Areas for Future Success.
Let’s face it. Managing a successful practice is the epitome of running a successful business. And, running a successful business, regardless of industry, is about creating long-term relationships by meeting the demands of your market. The healthcare market is demanding more each year. As you are approaching the end of the year, there are three key areas that you should be planning for in 2019: the patient experience, risk management and practice branding. Focus on these areas now and you’ll have better results in 2019!
Improved Patient Experience
This isn’t just a “catch phrase” any longer. If your team isn’t focused on a patient-centered culture, stop everything that you’re doing and refocus your energy here. Study after study shows that patients are leaving their physicians for another practice if they can have a better experience. In your market what does that mean? Better access? Patients are demanding a more digital experience. Online scheduling tools allow patients control over their appointments minimizing the need for rescheduling and frustration. Improved medical billing? Patients want to understand medical costs and get issues resolved quickly. Addressing uncertainty about a billing situation quickly minimizes concerns and keeps patients positively engaged. Mobile communication? A recent Harris Poll found more than 50% of insured patients would choose a primary care physician who offers some form of mobile communication over one who does not. Do you offer a Patient Portal System? And, more importantly, is it easy to use? Do you offer two-way texting? These conveniences, when done right, will set your practice apart. White-Glove Treatment? Your team doesn’t have to wear white gloves to make every customer feel like they’re receiving five-star treatment. Evaluate every touch point the patient has with your practice and identify those areas where you can focus on making the experience top notch. Is it at reception? Is it in the waiting area? Is it in the exam rooms? Maybe it is some sort of follow-up? Do something that is so memorable that patients will tell their friends and family about it.
The Fear of a HIPAA Breach, the possibility of a Medicare audit and the threat of a malpractice lawsuit are three of the biggest stressors physicians and administrators face when it comes to medical practice risk. For a modern medical practice to be successful at risk management today – the best defense is offense. But you can’t assign this task to one person or even one team. To truly be successful it takes dedication, energy and an “all hands on-deck” effort from every single person at your practice. Learning the common areas of risk, identifying team member roles, creating policies and procedures and establishing ongoing education and communication are all activities you should be planning for a “reduced-risk” culture in 2019.
Branding (Marketing Your Practice)
Branding is defined by The American Marketing Association (AMA) as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.” Physicians must take the definition of brand a step further to include “name, term, sign … and anything the customer experiences.” If you haven’t thought about your Practice brand before now, this is the time to start. Where should you begin? First, do you have any idea of how your Practice is perceived – both by existing and potential customers? Surveys are a great place to start. Focus Groups provide detailed information. And, a Mystery Shopper Evaluation can provide invaluable insight into the patient experience. Is your Practice offering what patients want? Surveys and Demographic Studies can help you plan for improved service offerings. Does your team understand their role as Brand Ambassadors? Every team member should understand what your Brand stands for and be able to perform a minimum level of defined customer service standards. If you haven’t established these, assign a team to do these now and roll them out in 2019. Do you have a Policies and Procedures Manual that incorporates the Practice brand into daily activities? Is your Brand pervasive? Take steps to make sure that the Brand is recognizable everywhere. Signage, Reception, Staff Attire, Online Communications and Printed Materials should reflect branding. Most importantly, do you have a written Strategic Plan? Most likely, your budget won’t allow for incorporating all these activities in first-quarter 2019. An approved Strategic Plan not only provides a road map for identified tactics but also provides an avenue for measuring results. Proper planning improves consistency. Consistency leads to positive impact and a quicker road to long-lasting brand awareness.
Are you in the planning stages for 2019? Are you interested in embarking on any of the above tactics but you’re not sure where to start? Maybe you have an idea of what you’d like to do but you don’t have the personnel? Comprehensive Physician Consulting (CPC) can help you with a wide-range of medical projects and on-going, day-to-day tasks like medical billing, staff recruitment & education and practice marketing. Our experts use their knowledge to become an extension of your team, to better serve your patients and, ultimately, to get results.
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