Entrepreneurs stake their claims in various ways. America’s diverse collection of self-employed workers includes retailers, tradespeople, restaurateurs, consultants, and service providers from wide-ranging industries. These ambitious business visionaries face a unique set of challenges, reserved for self-starters who are willing to risk it all, for a shot at professional independence. Among this enterprising group of business operators, medical professionals not only specialize in patient care, but they also take on many small business management responsibilities.
Successful medical practitioners effectively bridge two disciplines – providing high-quality, expert care and running profitable, efficient offices that attract and retain patients. Playing this dual role is a tall order for doctors and other health care personnel, so business leadership skills and an entrepreneurial spirit are big advantages for modern medical practitioners.
Apply Proven Business Principles
Most entrepreneurs are in the customer service business. Whether you are a self-employed retailer or a home improvement specialist – satisfied, returning customers are the bread and butter of your ongoing commercial success. Through reviews, referrals, and repeat business, entrepreneurial success relies on consistent performance and customer care. In private medical practice, patients are your customers, so creating a positive experience for them is as important to your future as customer satisfaction is to a remodeler, restaurant operator, or store owner.
Building a successful medical practice requires clinical expertise, paired with business sensibilities. Medical school, research, and continuing education keep you current in your field, but your direction may not be as clear, when it comes to operations. If you need guidance, borrowing effective strategies from the business community is a good way to manage your practice. Consider taking these steps to improve patient satisfaction and other important aspects of your health care business.
- Take Stock – Self-assessment helps measure your strengths and weaknesses, so conducting a comprehensive review of your medical practice is the first step toward lasting improvements. As you evaluate performance, don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Are your patients satisfied? Does cash flow smoothly through your practice? Or do you struggle with working capital? Have you made strides toward your long-range growth and earnings goals? Equipped with answers, you can prioritize pressing needs, and devote the resources needed to turn shortcomings into a thriving practice.
- Put Patient Feedback to Work – Satisfaction surveys, practitioner reviews, and other patient feedback provides valuable insight in to your medical office customer experience. Your performance standard should be nothing short of exceptional, patient-focused care. Evidence of anything less calls for your immediate attention; patient feedback doesn’t serve its most valuable function until the information is used to correct shortfalls and improve your practice.
- Consider the Competition – It’s important to focus on your own performance serving patients, but you must also remember health care is a competitive field. Failing to look beyond the walls of your practice can leave you at a disadvantage, growing your business. Assessing the competition and staying tuned to local market conditions are essential practices for small businesses of all kinds – including health care ventures. After identifying competing practices in your region, you may wish to delve into details such as specialization, reputation, exact locations, and other factors influencing their competitive strength.
In addition to learning about your competitors’ services, gaining insight into their marketing strategies can also be helpful for positioning your business. How are competitors getting out word about their practices? Do you see obvious strengths and soft spots in your competitors’ approaches? How well is your target demographic being served within in your territory? Answering these and other questions about competing practices gives you the tools needed to fine-tune the business side of your medical practice.
Embrace Business Planning
A well-articulated business plan is a hallmark of most successful commercial ventures. For the best results growing your medical practice, embrace business planning that accounts for today’s needs, and maps-out future growth and expansion.
- Put it on Paper – Business planning carries on nearly full-time for effective self-employed practitioners. From day-to-day decision-making about office activities, to weighing major spending and organizational matters, medical managers are continually occupied with running their practices.
With so much to consider in a fast-paced health care environment, writing a strong business plan provides a valuable, consistent reference. You can use it to look forward, accommodating growth and expansion, or to evaluate progress and performance, relative to goals you’ve set. Details are important, but even writing out an informal business plan is better than overlooking this important step toward organizational continuity and financial efficiency.
- Unite Staff – Formalizing your business plan creates a lasting document that helps unite staff around common goals. With a shared, stated mission to guide staffers, it’s easier to train new employees and retain top talent. Maintaining skilled staff and a low turnover rate are key business concepts to emulate; both improve your service and reputation, as well as reducing overall payroll costs.
A well-researched plan relies on information about local labor trends. Keeping your finger on the pulse of activity within your field ensures your compensation structure and benefits for employees are in line with prevailing area pay rates. Fairly compensated employees, in turn, keep productivity high at your practice, resulting in operational and financial efficiencies.
- Lean on Technology – Advances in computing and communication, as well as other tech improvements, can streamline medical practice management – but only if you put technology to work. Financial software and business budgeting apps, for example, make it easier to manage your money, providing templates and standardized treatments for your internal accounting needs. And when you want to track specific features of your finances, the programs’ advanced business functions produce detailed reports at a glance.
Beyond providing hands-on care, doctors and private medical practitioners also watch over their practices. Though medical offices have unique requirements, many of the challenges they face mirror small business concerns outside the health care field. If you’re satisfied with your clinical performance, but the business side of your practice needs attention, taking action today can boost profitability and improve your patient experience.