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
We hope you’ve been reading our Pursuing Medical Practice Success blog posts and finding them useful in your practice.
In the previous post in this series, we discussed the value of a site-specific action plan (SSAP)—a tool that serves many purposes. The SSAP is where you will
- document the high-priority issues you and your practice providers have agreed to address in your Practice Operations Council (POC) meetings;
- identify the goals or outcomes you want when implementing solutions to those issues;
- make a clear statement of the tactic you plan to use to accomplish your goal; and
- spell out the specific detailed action steps you must take to carry out your chosen tactic.
In order to take full advantage of the SSAP as a foundation for success, be sure to assign an accountable party for each tactic. (In other words, name the person responsible for seeing that the tactic is implemented.) Include a planned completion date—and keep in mind that “ongoing” is not a completion date. Finally, for most tactics, assign either a dollar impact or another quantifiable impact.
The SSAP in Action
The site-specific action plan is a living, breathing document. That means it is the practice manager’s key to-do list, keeping the providers and practice staff focused on the issues which, when addressed, will make a difference in the practice.
At the POC meetings, the SSAP serves not only as an agenda, but also as a guide for reporting progress on accomplishing the tactic, discussing barriers encountered, and determining how they were or will be overcome. If at first you don’t succeed, it is time to adjust the plan and create additional tactics.
Let’s look at some examples:
Note that each of these examples includes an issue of concern to the practice providers. These are the concerns that keep stakeholders up at night and will have the biggest impact on practice success.
Once you have identified an issue, you must follow it up with a goal that
- addresses the concern; and
- is specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic, and time-based (that is, it is stated as a S.M.A.R.T. goal).
The tactic is the method you choose to achieve the goal. Again, remember that the SSAP is an organic document; your first set of tactics may or may not work. Continue to adjust your tactics over time to ensure that you meet your medical practice goals.
The action steps describe what you need to do to implement the tactic. Many POCs make the mistake of failing to list all the key steps which must be carried out. But assuming “everyone knows we’ll do that” is not an option. This is perhaps the most important reason for assigning an accountable party.
More often than not, the accountable party will be the practice manager— the implementer of the plan. The practice manager must be able to communicate the plan clearly, engage providers and staff in the tactics and action steps decided upon, and monitor the plan’s success.
Here is what an update might look like for the action steps listed above in Example A. This approach gives a clear status on those items completed, underway, or pending:
Building on a Solid Foundation
Once you have attained a goal, it’s time to add another.
As you develop your SSAP, remember to keep it realistic. Often, practices seize the opportunity to list every goal they would like to achieve—but doing so can bog down the process. Prioritize your goals and determine which to tackle first so the practice is always gaining momentum. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day; it’s perfectly acceptable to arrange your goals by quarter. The POC can work together to select which specific goals the practice will address first.
You have now laid the foundation for your practice success: You have a fully functioning POC, you have hired the right practice manager/implementer, you have developed a SSAP, and you’ve put solid tactics in place.
Achieving individual practice success is just the first step. If your practice is part of a larger overall organization, how can this model help it ensure its success? How does your practice fit into the strategic initiatives of that organization? How do you share best practice success? Stay tuned for our final post in the series, where we’ll discuss medical group governance.