Here's a fun fact for you. Many, many weeks I spend just as much time (if not more) reading and selecting stories to include in FiercePracticeManagement as I do writing them. Part of that, granted, is the inherent distractibility that comes with a job that requires me to surf the Internet. But the other process that goes on is my responsibiity of looking at stories from your point of view.
Questions I ask myself before picking a story:
- Is this news?
- Is there something here that will help my readers?
- If there is no big takeaway, is it still of significant interest?
- Does this story matter today—not yesterday or too far off in the future?
- Is there something in it for most specialties?
One interesting story I decided didn't meet the criteria for a top story recently, for example, is the Johns Hopkins study suggesting that overweight patients are more amenable to weight-loss advice from similarly sized physicians. Is the correlation good to know (rather than merely intuitive)? Sure. But while most physicians can change their communication styles or message to better reach patients with certain problems, a doctor's weight is not a practice-management topic.
A piece I was on the fence about, however, is this week's story about oncologists experiencing high rates of burnout symptoms. Cons: only a fraction of you are likely cancer doctors,\ and we've already reported that nearly half of doctors across specialties experience at least one symptom of professional burnout. But I also see studies in my inbox constantly describing how pessimistic and unsatisfied the general doctor population is, too; while this new study suggests that oncologists are far happier than average, but still experiencing similar rates of burnout.
So the takeaway there is that no one is immune to burnout. This tells me that addressing it should continue to be a high-priority topic in FiercePracticeManagement, even though a number of readers probably skip those stories routinely thinking they'll never apply to them.
What's more, another one of this week's top stories points out that one overstressed doctor can have a negative ripple effect on your entire practice. Just as enthusiasm and optimism can often be contagious, so too can be detachment and discomfort. These are important points to talk about in your practice, in my opinion. I may not have quantitative research to show that stressed out docs make for uninspired staff, thus leading to unimpressed patients who miss appointments and slack on their bills and hurt your bottom line. However, this is a logical chain of events that can be easy to forget about when focusing on just one problem at a time (or dismissing advice considered unnecessary).
The truth is I don't know what kind of advice you truly need, but I'm in a role where I can make an educated guess.
Another story I wasn't sure about this week, for example, is yet another account of docs quitting working with insurance companies and raving about it. My question to you when reading stories like this is: How does this trend affect you? Does it make you consider following suit? If you currently run a traditional practice, what would be your tipping point for entertaining an alternative model? If you plan to stick with your insurance contracts, how is your practice impacted by the existence of concierge practices? Are they a competitive threat? Do the thousands of patients retainer doctors have to cut from their panels find their way to your office? For you, is this good or bad? Or are you a concierge doctor with a less rosy picture to share? (If you do have feedback to share about any of these questions, let's set up an interview!)
What I hope you'll gather from this post is a little more insight into the thought that goes on behind the scenes of an issue of FiercePracticeManagement. Many times, the dots of what make a story relevant connect in my head, but there isn't the space in what's meant to be a brief overview to spell it all out.
Today, I took a little more time to share with you my thoughts about this newsletter and the questions about it and you that come up each week as I put together an issue. I know I remind you every week, but please do use the comments section or send me an email to share your thoughts as well. Your fellow readers and I will thank you! - Deb (@PracticeMgt)