My partner Joe Capko and I just had a new article published in Practice Link, a magazine for job-hunting physicians. Our assignment was to explore the idea of a "15 minute MBA for doctors." In other words, are there guideposts that we can draw from business school training that might help physicians know what they need to learn, and how to develop the business skills they'll need to thrive in the future -- whether they run their own practices or work for a larger system? We're delighted with the input we had from the physicians we interviewed -- wonderful advice for newly minted doctors. We spoke with a wide range of physicians -- including anesthesia, OB/GYN, pediatrics, family practice and academia -- as well as a number of practice management experts to get a diversity of viewpoints. Check it out here - we'd welcome any feedback.
Whether you're contemplating expanding your practice, starting a new practice, or simply wondering what your practice's profit potential might be, your profits depend on your understanding of local patient demographics. With a host of free online services available, it's easier and less expensive than ever to understand your area's demographics and how they might represent threats or opportunities. You need to know how well your area is being served by your practice-type! One very useful website is www.city-data.com that supplies wide-ranging demographic information on thousands of communities. Among the most telling information is the population and growth trends of your service area -- where your patients come from or nearby areas new patients could come from. Often service areas are defined by geographical barriers, valleys, rivers, etc.. When we work with medical practices, we find that compiling data from the various communities in their service area (and other areas of interest) in a spreadsheet is invaluable. First, we take note of these population demographics: total population, population growth, income and, naturally, any demographic segment particular to your type of practice, such as women, children or the elderly. Next, combine the separate community data so that you can have a single figure for "service area" for each demographic segment. Now that you've compiled data to define the demographics of your service area, you can compare how your service area compares to nearby or similar-sized areas anywhere in the country. Is there a relatively high, low or average number of your practice-type in your service area when compared to similar other regions? You'll need to employ your first-hand knowledge to help you define the "service areas" that compare to yours. Be mindful of population density, income and geography and you should be able to identify at least two competing service areas. You can plug these data from their respective communities into your spreadsheet to calculate the same measures you have for your service area. Now that you've become somewhat of an expert on the population, it's time to gather information on the physicians. You'll goal is to find the number of physicians (FTEs)
I've seen too many practices go through one, two and even three associates over a short period of time. They get sour and think young doctors just aren't what they use to be. Maybe, but maybe you aren't the same either. Physicians and administrators are so busy these days and have so much going on that they sometimes fail to give Dr. Newbie the tools to succeed. It's your job to provide Dr. Newbie with a good orientation, clear expectations, an understanding of the schedule, documentation requirements, billing processes and what support staff he or she can depend on. In other words you need to plan ahead, communicate well and be there when Dr. Newbie needs help. Then everyone wins and the team gets stronger! That's doing your job right. So look in the mirror when you have an associate physician that jumps ship after year one or two and think about what you might have done to make things turn out differently.Judy Capko is one of America's leading practice management and marketing consultants, and author of the runaway top-selling book Secrets of the Best Run Practice. Check it out by clicking on the book icon at www.capko.com