Post-reform business models: 3 ways for leaders to adapt

In the post-reform market, competition will continue to heat up while relationships and collaboration increase in importance. Smart leaders must learn to adapt. One way to do that, according to a panel discussion of gastroenterologists summarized in Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, is to become the 'go-to' practice in your specialty.

There are a variety of tactics to achieving that goal. Consider these three sometimes-overlooked areas that require leadership attention:

1. Thoughtful leadership structure. Under traditional practice structures, physician leaders, who have built trust within the group and understand its culture, have emerged from within, said Arnold G. Levy, M.D., president and CEO of Capital Digestive Care LLC, near Washington D.C. But leaders of organizations created by mergers and acquisitions must take a delicate approach, lest they be branded outsiders. "That person has to be willing to listen to input from everybody, analyze and organize all ideas and demonstrate leadership by being inclusive," Levy said.

According to a recent article from American Medical News, merger and acquisition activity is expected to increase, both in terms of hospitals buying physician practices and large groups growing larger. "You're going to be seeing more hospitals buying physician practices to control referral sources and to have a better and bigger say in quality as they start to get penalized for readmissions," Stephen M. Monroe, editor of Irving Levin Associates' Health Care M&A Report, told the publication.

2. Strong relationships. Relationships are critical to the success of the office team. "You need physicians who are willing to do their share [and] help a colleague, a staff member or particularly a patient," Bergein Overholt, M.D., of Digestive Health Specialists in Tacoma, Wash., said in the Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News article.

One way to build appreciation and teamwork within your office is to walk in your employees' shoes. Office manager Brandon Betancourt recommended in a recent blog post on Pediatric Inc. that managers take a lead from the TV show Undercover Boss and work the front desk or phones for several days. "This perspective will give you keen insight into how to better service both your internal, as well as, your external customers," he wrote.

3. Aesthetics. Although we're all taught not to judge by appearance, in healthcare consumers equate the look of an office with quality of care. Leaders at Digestive Health Specialists make it a priority to keep their 14-year-old office looking new. "In so many places, you walk into a tiny waiting room with chairs jammed around the outside wall, causing you to wonder what's going on in the doctor's mind and what type of care you might receive," said Peter Donaldson, the group's CEO, according to Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News.

One way to make medical office design more patient-friendly is to eliminate clutter, including televisions and bulky toys, in favor of sleeker built-ins and water features, which can help patients feel more relaxed.

To learn more:
- read the article from Gastroenterology and Endoscopy News
- see the story from American Medical News
- check out the post from Pediatric Inc.