Pursuing Medical Practice Success: An Hour a Month Could Save You Many Sleepless Nights

    Posted by Dale Gentz and Katrina Slavey on Feb 1, 2018 9:56:00 AM
    Part of the Pursuing Medical Practice Success series:
    1. An Hour a Month Could Save You Many Sleepless Nights
    2. The Practice Manager as Change Agent
    3. The Heartbeat of Your Practice
    4. The Building Blocks for High Performance
    5. The Big Picture


    Staying current in today’s rapidly changing medical environment is a challenge. The ever-present need to understand and implement new regulations, maintain patient satisfaction, and achieve fiscal responsibility can lead to many sleepless nights.

    So, what do you do?

    The answer is simple: Create a culture of accountability where all the stakeholders are partners in the solution.

    Medical practices that perform better than their peers don’t do so by accident. Their providers, management, and staff optimize medical practice operations because they are purpose-driven and focused on success.

    This is the first post in a multi-part blog series on how you, too, can move your practice from average to superior.

    The Practice Operations Council

    In your practice, how many times have decisions been made on the fly but not communicated to the entire group? These decisions may put an end to the current crisis but could potentially create chaos in other areas.

    The real solution for effective decision-making in successful medical practices lies in open, honest communication between all parties.

    Who are those parties?

    The key stakeholders in any practice are the providers and the practice manager. Creating and nurturing a partnership between providers and management sets your practice up for success and prepares it to meet the ever-changing challenges that physician practices face today.

    In the most successful medical practices, providers and management meet and engage in meaningful dialog at designated, regularly scheduled intervals, with a planned agenda to guide the process.

    We know what you’re thinking: “Wait, what? Doctors hate meetings—and time is money.”

    You’re right, on both counts.

    But investing in a monthly meeting that holds all parties accountable is the key to success in any practice. We like to call this meeting the Practice Operations Council, because it is just that: a meeting where providers and medical practice managers discuss all those items that keep medical practice leaders up at night.

    In a Practice Operations Council, or POC, membership consists of the practice manager and all providers, and the meeting is facilitated by the practice manager. All attendees are expected to participate in the discussion and to support the decisions reached.

    These regular meetings provide the platform for discussing every aspect of medical practice operations, including:

    • financial performance,
    • provider productivity,
    • patient access,
    • process improvement,
    • support staffing, and
    • quality initiatives.

    In addition, this meeting gives the POC a forum for agreeing on strategies for implementation. And to keep everyone accountable for results, the POC uses a tool called a site-specific action plan (SSAP), which we’ll discuss in a future post in this series.

    As stated earlier, open, honest communication is key here. The purpose is to optimize medical practice operations so practice providers can deliver excellent service and quality medical care while meeting the fiscal responsibilities of the practice.

    The practice manager is responsible for assisting the providers to work smarter, not harder. Council members should send every potential decision through four critical decision filters:

    Does the decision, policy, or process preserve or enhance

    1. clinical quality, as defined by your physicians and by evidence-based practice?
    2. service quality, as defined by your patients and referring physicians?
    3. provider productivity?
    4. practice operational and financial viability?

    If the answer to any of these questions is no, keep talking to see if a better alternative can be reached. While the best decisions and policies meet all of these criteria, not all will. The point of the conversation is to come to a consensus about whether a decision is worth implementing—and why. The four critical decision filters can help you make that call.

    Once the Practice Operations Council has determined the tactics for success, the practice manager must assume a pivotal role in implementing the decisions of the group within the practice.

    In our next blog post, we’ll discuss this role of the practice manager in implementing the decisions of the POC. You won’t want to miss it, so stay tuned!


    Topics: Operational Governance, Physician Practice Management, Engaging Employed Physicians, Hospital Leadership, Medical Group Consulting

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