Why is this so hard?
Healthcare providers are typically very up-to-date on ideas and information that will help them better care for their patients. They are the enthusiastic early adopters of new approaches if it will help with disease management. They are smart, well-read and have the ability to quickly grasp complex data, and put it into action.
Why then do so many private practice owners lag behind in fully utilizing electronic record keeping, participating in an ACO or Medical Home and utilizing Nurse Practitioners or Physician’s Assistants? We all know that there has been a mass exodus of excellent doctors (and others) from practice ownership to employment or early retirement, and the reluctance to adapt to these changes plays a large role in the decisions.
The new requirements do mean more time spent on non-patient care priorities. But wasn’t it always easier to be an employee, and let someone else worry about the business and regulatory end of things than to own your own practice? If all you ever wanted to do was see patients, than I bet you could have found a job somewhere long ago doing just that. Most business owners care about more than just being the service provider. They are willing to work hard for higher returns, and that includes the non-financial rewards of building something that you own.
So is it possible to view these changes in healthcare in the same light that you view medical advances? As something to be learned and implemented in such a way as to provide maximum benefit to your patients, rather than something that is just being forced on you. If you find some of it confusing, imagine how your patients feel. If your office can become the go-to place for them to get answers, then that alone might set you apart. It’s certainly not that you’re not intelligent enough to comprehend the changes. Maybe you can find the elements there that will help you provide better care to your patients than they can receive anywhere else.
If you take control of how these changes get implemented than you can use them to help your patients become better educated on their own health, and even their own finances as it relates to healthcare costs. And these tools work equally as well to give you better real-time feedback on the state of your practice, and to make the needed adjustments to stay ahead of the game. Most private practice owners I know have always operated very transparently to begin with. This can be your opportunity to build even better relationships with patients, peers and the community.
This can also be your opportunity to evaluate your role as leader, and analyze how you are spending your hours. The more you understand what needs to be done to stay current, the more equipped you will be to appropriately delegate and manage your team, so that you can spend more of your time feeling like you’re getting ahead rather than just getting it done. The availability of qualified NP’s and PA’s make it somewhat easier to provide both affordable and quality care. If you go to work for a big organization you will undoubtedly be working with them. If you make them part of your team, you continue to monitor and control the quality of your patients’ care.
Obviously many outstanding providers are working for hospitals and large organizations. If that’s the environment where you will best nurture your desire to be a great doctor then certainly that’s where you should be. My goal is to encourage private practice owners who want to remain in private practice. I believe that you do have the resources to successfully meet the never-ending changes that impact your world, and use them for the good of your patients and your practice.
For more information on the impact of healthcare changes on private practice owners, see A Tough Time for Physicians: 2012 Medical Practice & Attitude Report.
What does any of this have to do with marketing? More to follow in my next blog post.