Many podiatrists are currently trying to juggle the business part of owning their own practice and the practical part of providing patients with exceptional podiatry care. How can you balance both and create a successful podiatry practice that will lead to the best overall outcome? While the answer isn’t simple, it can be simply broken down.
PATIENTS | THE FIRST KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL PODIATRY PRACTICE
Too often, there are distractions within the inner workings of the business, and it becomes easy to forget the primary focus—the patient. First and foremost, having patients who return for care is the best thing you can do to ensure that your practice is successful.
Did you know that, on average, studies show it costs 5 times as much for a practice to find a new patient than to keep an existing one?
Once a patient has entered your office, the hard part is done. The only thing left to do is instill confidence in your patient that you are listening to them and ready to help in all ways possible.
What Leads to a Pleasant Office Visit?
Greet your patient: Take the time to say hello and start with some small get-to-know-you questions before you jump right into what they need from you. This tells the patient that you are interested in getting to know them as a person, not just their condition as a patient.
Listen to them: Let your patient describe in full what they believe is going on without completing their sentences or cutting them off. When patients feel rushed, they tend to shut down and become withdrawn or defensive.
Be on time: Making a patient consistently wait on you is the quickest way to lose them. Granted, you can’t predict every minute of your day and there are times when you will run behind schedule. However, if it is a recurring problem, you may need to tweak your scheduling process to accommodate.
Provide eye contact: By making eye contact with your patient, you show them that you are listening and willing to give them your undivided attention. With all of the electronics that are used in the office, it is easy to get caught up in typing notes or searching for the correct aftercare sheet for print. Be aware if that is something you have a tendency to do.
Be knowledgeable: Being able to correctly identify the patient’s condition and start them on a path to healing is the whole reason they have walked into your office. You want them to leave with confidence that they haven’t wasted their time and money.
These simple things can mean the difference between a happy returning patient who recommends you to others and an unhappy patient who seeks treatment elsewhere.
STAFF | THE SECOND KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL PODIATRY PRACTICE
Your staff is the foundation of your business. Even if you only have 1 or 2 employees, they are essential to the success of your practice. Recognition for a job well done and respect for individual effort are important contributors to low employee turnover and high productivity.
Losing an employee can be costly. When an employee leaves, general productivity can take a big hit, as other employees are required to take over extra duties during the process of hiring and training a replacement.
5 Helpful Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Work Environment for Retaining Employees.
Thorough communication and training on office protocols will help reduce employee stressors and lead to unity within the office. Consistent instruction among your staff is going to alleviate many problems that stem from training variances.
Practical relationship-building activities are encouraged quarterly to create a positive work attitude. This will also allow you to get feedback in a setting outside of the office.
Cross-train employees on more than one position to ensure that when one is out sick or ends up leaving, there is always somebody else in the office who can fill that role. This also alleviates feelings of superiority.
Training employees is an ongoing process and shouldn’t be overlooked. Revisiting rules and common practices regularly with your office staff is the best way for everyone to be on the same page. Frequent communication will allow you to talk about what protocols aren’t working and redefine them.
Be careful as to not overload your staff. Overloading staff happens gradually, so pay attention to their workloads. They can’t be productive if they are juggling too much. You may need to consider other options such as hiring more staff, redistributing tasks, or outsourcing some of the responsibilities to a reliable company.
BUSINESS | THE THIRD KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL PODIATRY PRACTICE
There are many different reasons that podiatrists open their own practice and many different theories on what constitutes success. Viewing your practice through a holistic lens can help produce the outcome you’re desiring, be it a large multi-physician clinic or an at-home office.
Podiatrists provide a service. Determining how you want that service delivered to your patients will be crucial when it comes to producing results. Clearly defining a purpose and the actions required to accomplish that purpose will get you started in the right direction. We must remember that the purpose of our office should be to help our patients feel cared for on a road to recovery, not achieve an outcome that only benefits the business.
Questions that you can ask yourself to get started are as follows:
What purpose do I serve?
What am I trying to achieve?
What has to happen in order for me to achieve_______?
How can I recover when things don’t go as planned?
Billing and Insurance
Making sure your office staff is well trained in coding and billing will greatly contribute to the success of the practice. Having an efficient billing process can reduce headaches in private practices for podiatrists and patients alike. Patients want to feel that your billing process is upfront and fair.
Insurance claims should be handled swiftly and professionally, with full transparency to the insured client. Keep in mind that outsourced billing can all but eliminate the stressors that accompany these tasks. Billing is obviously an important process for any business. The more efficient and streamlined this process is, the more money you make and the more satisfied your patients will be.
Clean and Organized Environment
Creating a peaceful environment that is clean and free of clutter is a great way to show patients that you take pride in your practice. Throwing away outdated magazines and obtaining regularly scheduled housekeeping can make all the difference for a good first impression.
Keeping items that are regularly used in stock and easily accessible will lend to an overall feeling of professionalism. Clients want to feel relaxed and comfortable in both the waiting and exam rooms.
A SUCCESSFUL PODIATRY PRACTICE SIMPLY BROKEN DOWN
It’s true that there are many ways to bolster business through marketing, but if you don’t have the staff or an efficient business and billing process in place, then patients will be less likely to get your full attention.
Practically speaking, marketing before taking the time to ensure that these 3 areas of your business are running smoothly is much like putting the cart before the horse. It’s ineffective, to say the least.
These keys will unlock the door to success. Make a business plan and execute it. Train your staff well, but be prepared for bumps in the road. Learn from the bumps and be willing to put others first. Last but not least, outsource when it makes sense to streamline efficiency. Taking the correct steps will take time and investment, but it will surely pay off in the long run.