Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Physician Business Ideas - The Effective Physician

I met yesterday with Steven Merahn MD, a physician executive who is general manager of Modernmedicine.com, a website dedicated to providing hard hitting, practical, and informative content to help physicians help themselves and their patients.

If physicians don’t help themselves, i.e., control your own destinies, who will? Not government. There is very little in health reform bills that will help physicians maintain your independence and increase your productivity. Not managed care or health plans. Their job is to control costs and utilization.

So who can physicians turn to for help?

You can turn to yourselves. You can recognize you still control events in your offices; you independent private physicians in groups of six or less still deliver 80 percent to 90 percent of care; patients still look to you for your experience, expertise, and guidance; and you still can control your own destinies rather than having your destinies controlled by others.

In future blogs, I shall give specific examples of how independent physicians have effectively controlled their position in the world.

In general, these physicians have done so by adhering to these principles, as set forth by Peter F. Drucker (1909-1995), in his book The Effective Executive (HarperBusiness, 1985)

Medicine is not a business, but a personal service, but these four principles still apply to practice.

• Pick the future against the past.

• Focus on opportunity rather than problem.

• Choose your own direction – rather than climb on the bandwagon.

• Aim high, aim for something that will make a difference, rather than for something that is “safe” and easy to do.

The future lies in information technologies, in intensely personal and informative services, in capturing and maintaining a loyal patient base that spreads the word, and differentiating your services in human terms.

Opportunities lie in using your time to handle complicated cases while delegating simple tasks to others, in having your patients enter their own data online in a structured but simple narrative format, and in being paid for such time-consuming knowledge tasks such as writing prescriptions.

Choosing your own direction means training your staff to anticipate those human “moments of truth” when patients enter and interact with your practice, in using online technologies, such as videos, so patients will know what to anticipate when undergoing a procedure, in followup phone calls and emails to see how patients are doing.

Aiming high for things that make a difference, rather than doing what is “safe” and “easy to do” may mean getting off your high horse and humbly asking your nurse and staff how you can do things better, appointing a chief innovation officer among existing staff, hosting regular innovation meetings with your staff and asking for suggestions for improvement.

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