We live in a society that is obsessed with goals, with pursuing dreams. While this drive to improve is essential to keep people and businesses reaching their potential, the endlessness of the journey, if we're not careful, can undermine our appreciation of what we've already achieved. We can fall into a trap in which we lose energy for getting better because the reality is we'll never be perfect.
The infinite nature of goal-setting is both its beauty and its curse.
Therefore, I'm not suggesting that you give up on continuous quality improvement or abandon your vision for your practice. With absolutely no authority to do so, however, I propose we declare today an informal practice-management holiday. Does "Pat Your Practice on the Back Day" sound too corny?
Probably, but you get the idea.
For five minutes today, put your to-do list down and reflect on the big and little things you've already done. It can be a practice-wide exercise or an activity you lead as a manager. Some of the questions you might ask include the following:
What types of technological gains have you made over the last five to ten years? Have you converted from paper to electronic medical records? Attested to Meaningful Use? Mastered the art of using a computer in the exam room? Gotten physicians who resisted electronic records to embrace their benefits? Whatever painstaking steps you've made to update your office's technological capability, celebrate them and thank those who helped it happen.
How has your practice become more efficient? Even minor tweaks you've made to your patient flow over the years have a measurable impact on satisfaction and your bottom line today.
How has your practice family grown? Attracting new patients, recruiting physicians and staff, and keeping them happy is hard work. Even if some faces have disappeared from your practice, everyone you've brought on board has made some contribution to your practice being what it is today.
What have you learned? It could be that at one time you had some pretty bad leaks in your revenue cycle, or maybe as a manager you hadn't quite figured out how to communicate with employees. Perhaps you weren't using your practice management system or other tools to their full potential, or had a good employee in a poorly fitting role. Whatever these mistakes may have cost you in the past, appreciate the value of getting them fixed.
Have you taken good care of patients? This one could go without saying, because it's the entire purpose of what you do, but it shouldn't be overlooked. You don't need to quantify it for these purposes, but think about the last patient who left your office with a little less worry or discomfort than with which he or she arrived. Think about the lives your entire office has played a role in improving, even saving. Take a moment to feel deeply proud of the wins.
I hope this exercise helps everyone in your practice see how far you've come and brings some renewed energy to push you toward where you want to go. - Deb (@PracticeMgt)