Some doctors have very little interest in owning a medical practice; in fact, recent studies show a growing number of medical graduates are choosing employment in larger organizations over practice opportunities featuring partnership offers.
Practice consultant Kenneth T. Hertz, CMPE, finds that many physicians have a very difficult time assuming the business-owner role. Professional training for physicians includes precious little content about owning and running a business, and its importance pales in comparison to the volumes of science and medicine a medical student must master.
Physicians seem to have the most trouble mastering at least three key areas of practice ownership and management:
- Establishing and maintaining an effective partnership with their administrators;
- Paying attention to and nurturing the development and health of the practice; and
- Understanding and responding to financial and operational reports.
Partnering with Your Administrator
- Business operations;
- Financial management;
- Human resource management;
- Information management;
- Organizational governance;
- Patient care systems;
- Quality management; and
- Risk management.
3) Under-communicating. Does your administrator know what you expect from him or her? Probably not, unless you’ve taken the time to develop and maintain:
- A written employment agreement;
- A written job description;
- Written performance standards and goals; and
- Weekly meetings for the physician leader(s) and the administrator.
Nurturing the Practice
You’re not operating a piece of equipment here - you’re leading an organization made up of living, breathing human beings. Even as you long for your operation to run like a “well-oiled machine,” never lose sight of the fact that your practice is more like an organism than a machine.
Nurturing requires an attitude adjustment for most doctors. Traditional training and socialization emphasizes a physician’s independent decision-making; but to grow a baby practice into a healthy grown-up business, you need to engage your partners and employees so everyone feels included in the group.
Nurturing includes teaching and training, providing physicians and support staff with everything they need to get the job done, helping everyone feel cared for, and inspiring everyone with confidence that their leader knows where he or she is going.
Monitoring the Reports
Too many physicians ignore financial and productivity reports. They don’t really understand how to interpret those numbers and charts, and they’re too proud to admit it. But those reports are as critical to your business as diagnostic images and lab reports are to your patients. Often it’s the first early warning of poor performance.
If you don’t understand that page of numbers, ask someone who does. Or, better yet, read a book like Owen Dahl’s, Think Business!
If you can’t bring yourself to ask a senior partner or your administrator, buy an hour or two with your CPA or attend a few physician-executive courses. The return on that investment will be huge.
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