Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How Do You Choose the Physician Leader in Your Medical Practice?

Leader in Your Medical Practice
Leader in Your Medical Practice
We’ve served in practices where the partners or shareholders simply take turns at the helm. In these organizations, a title like “president” or “managing partner” really bears little weight beyond signing contracts and bank notes, and moderating governance meetings. Other groups we’ve worked for have tended to make “president” a life sentence—especially for a charismatic doctor whom the others trust.

The “good-ol’-boy” approach to leadership won’t carry your group very far down the road in the drastically changing environment in which a successful practice must operate in the next few years. Groups that want to remain firmly in control of their own destinies will have to get more serious and more businesslike in their governance. And that calls for exceptional, gifted leaders who exhibit at least these four kinds of characteristics.Instead of electing a “nice guy or nice gal” to be a figure-head, take a look at your partners and determine who among you already exhibits these characteristics:
  • A doctor who demonstrates self-discipline (think about medical records, patient scheduling, self-control in difficult moments) will more likely serve as an effective leader.
  • Doctors who already “set the pace” among their peers show that they can lead others.
  • Doctors who embrace change and show resilience in handling the bumps and curves have a better chance at inspiring their peers to “hang in there” through the challenging times.
  • Doctors who avoid “analysis paralysis” and show a determination to reach well-thought- out goals can help their colleagues continue to move forward.
Increasingly uncertain times lying ahead for physicians and group practices call for stronger physician leadership than ever. Seismic changes are on the horizon, and successful physician leaders will have to navigate territory heretofore uncharted. High-performing physician leaders exhibit four characteristics consistently:

Physician leaders increasingly must lead more than their partners in their groups. They are called to lead growing, complex health systems now. With the emphasis shifting to value over volume, healthcare delivery will continue to become more team-oriented. Physician leaders will have to organize and lead teams of providers.

The requirement for physicians to lead physicians hasn’t changed—and it’s as challenging a task as ever. The shifting environment makes it more complicated than ever, and the new healthcare paradigm demands strong physician leadership.

Monday, July 20, 2015

ZocDoc to Present Webinar on Strategies for Patient-Centered Healthcare with Industry-Leader Greenbranch Publishing -- (and complimentary book included)

Patient-Centered Practice
Patient-Centered Practice
Digital health platform ZocDoc will present a free webinar for healthcare providers on strategies to create a more patient-centered experience, as part of Greenbranch Publishing's regular webinar series.

The free online session – titled "The New Patient-Centered Practice: What You Must Know to Succeed" – will take place Wednesday, August 5, 2015 at 1 p.m. ET and will be led by ZocDoc Vice President of Marketing Richard Fine and The Journal of Medical Practice Management®, Publisher Nancy Collins.

Sign up at or call (800) 933-3711.

The webinar will offer key insights into patients' shifting expectations when it comes to transparency, convenience and instant gratification. Tools and strategies will be presented that healthcare providers can use to accommodate patients' new expectations and to modernize their practices.

The joint webinar on August 5 will address topics including:
  • How patients are "changing the rules" and the implications for your practice
  • Tools and strategies to accommodate patients' growing expectations
  • What you need to know about online reviews and why your online presence can't be ignored
  • How ZocDoc provides a solution and blueprint for success

"Running a profitable medical practice takes more than your staff's strong clinical skills," said Nancy Collins, CEO of Greenbranch Publishing. "Today's medical practice management is complex – including managing the patient process, technology needs, receivable management needs and personnel management. We are pleased to give Greenbranch audiences access to authoritative presentations to enhance their knowledge of medical practice management."

As a bonus, the first 200 registrants for the webinar will also receive a free copy of the best-selling book by Judy Capko and Cheryl Bisera, The Patient-Centered Payoff: Driving Practice Growth Through Image, Culture and Patient Experience, published by Greenbranch Publishing, (238 pages and a $51.00 Value).

About ZocDoc: Each month, millions of patients turn to ZocDoc to find in-network, neighborhood doctors, instantly book appointments online, see what other real patients have to say, get reminders for upcoming appointments and preventive check-ups, fill out paperwork online, and more. Patients can book more than 1,800 different types of procedures via ZocDoc, across more than 50 different medical specialties.

About Greenbranch Publishing:Greenbranch Publishing has earned a loyal following for its medical practice management educational materials, including the flagship publication, The Journal of Medical Practice Management and highly regarded books and seminars for physicians and practice managers covering reimbursement, practice development, compliance, patient safety, and financial and operational issues.

Sign up for the FREE webinar and receive the complimentary Patient-Centered Payoff book: or (800) 933-3711

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Method to Prevent Physician Turnover ... Hire for Culture Fit

Physician Turnover
Reducing Physician
When you abandon a sinking ship, you don’t generally interview the other passengers in each lifeboat to see if you’ll be able to fit in with the group. And as long as physicians feel that there’s no hope in their current practice settings (solo or small group), they will be tempted to jump at any employment opportunity that seems to offer them some sense of security.

“Survival” decisions are very different from long-range commitments. Doctors focusing on escaping their current situations are likely going to discount “cultural fit” when evaluating employment offers from larger practices and health systems. That’s a huge mistake. We all know it’s important. A physician who operates under a very different value system than the organization that employs him or her will not stay long—and will spend a good amount of time looking elsewhere for employment.

Some pundits estimate that the next few years we will see the biggest exodus from private practice in history. That means a lot of doctors looking for, evaluating, and accepting employment offers. We expect things will move at a relatively rapid pace and that some markets will be seriously shaken up.

But regardless of how these dynamics unfold for you or your organization, don’t let desperation cloud your judgment. Recruiting organizations feel pressure to fill vacancies or to capture the best available doctors on the block. Candidates feel pressure to find a job. In the short run, you may keep the bills paid or cling tentatively to your market share; but in the long run, employers and employees will be on the hunt sooner rather than later.

The huge wave of practice mergers and acquisitions washing through the healthcare marketplace has many physicians looking for new jobs—some joining group practices for the first time in their careers. Diverse expectations about accountability, autonomy, and more put many newly employed physicians on a track for disappointment and threaten the group’s ability to retain doctors.

Reducing turnover requires hiring the right physicians in the first place. To accomplish that, there are three important steps that are critical for hiring the right ones:

Defining your unique organizational culture. Identify your core values, vision, and mission, and determine how they affect day-to-day life in the practice.

Screening candidates for cultural fit. Communicate these values clearly to recruits, and ask questions that elicit each candidate’s personal values for comparison.

An onboarding process for new recruits. Provide thorough orientation for new hires. Create a deliberate mentoring program that pairs new recruits with veteran group members.

Various studies estimate the costs associated with an established physician’s departure at nearly a million dollars for some specialties. A prolonged medical staff vacancy costs can approach $100,000 per month.

If you enjoy reading the blog entries in "Solving Problems in the Medical Practice" you may want to check out all the great products at Greenbranch Publishing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Here's How to Confront a Medical Practice Employee with a Performance Problem

medical practice HR
Dealing with difficult
Few physicians or managers relish the idea of confronting an underperforming staff member. Those few who don’t seem to be bothered by it have either become callous over the years or have a bit of a sociopathic streak. But like some of the tougher jobs facing parents, you have to steel yourself and “just do it.”

Having an organized method for dealing with this issue is the best approach. It provides a roadmap to keep you on track when emotions run high and threaten to deter you from the hardest parts, and it helps you treat employees consistently. Whenever you appear to go soft on a worker after being tough with another, you open yourself up to accusations of discrimination.

Committing to consistent accountability in your organization can yield incredible improvement in its effectiveness—if you also cultivate a supportive environment that shows an equal commitment to each employee’s professional success. That’s a hard balance—and it’s impossible if you aren’t sincere in your support for individual workers.

If your practice has a history of tolerating poor performance, your attempts to move toward accountability and quality improvement will meet daunting resistance from almost everyone. So you will have to develop nerves of steel to make it through the transition. The results, however, will be worth the pain and hard work.

There is a consistent pattern among managers at all levels: a pronounced lack of skill or will to sit down with under performers and have those tough conversations about their failings. Most experienced managers consider this skill set as part of basic management; but for various reasons, they lack the will to confront.

Here's a six-point methodology for effectively confronting an employee who doesn’t measure up:
  • Prepare. Gather your evidence of underperformance and organize it to present to the problem employee. Prepare an outline of what you want to say and how you want to say it. Keep in mind that your objective is to improve and salvage the employee—not to punish him or her.
  • Explain the issues. Keep your cool, and explain where he or she is failing and the effect it’s having on the organization. Avoid being harsh—but don’t “sugarcoat” it.
  • Ask for reasons and listen. Give the staffer an opportunity to explain his or her side of the story. Replace the tendency to scream, “What the blank were you thinking?” with something less confrontational: “Help me understand how this could happen.”
  • Solve the problem. If you have listened carefully, you should be able to ascertain the underlying problem(s) contributing to the employee’s failure. But continue to encourage the employee’s participation. Have a collaborative discussion. The employee will be more committed to a solution he or she helped develop.
  • Ask for a commitment, and set a follow-up date. Summarize the action plan to make sure you both understand it, and set a reasonable date to meet again and check on progress.
  • Express confidence and consequences. Early conversations (or minor problems) don’t require an emphasis on consequences, but sometimes you have to “turn up the heat.” Try to end on a positive note: “I know you can do this.”
Always document such meetings, and follow up without fail. Missing a follow-up date will seriously erode your credibility.

If you enjoy reading the blog entries in "Solving Problems in the Medical Practice" you may want to check out all the great products at Greenbranch Publishing.