The Need For Operations Management For Professional, Medical Practices In Transition

A quick review of this week’s offerings displayed medical practices for sale from Michigan to California and Maine to Washington. A study by the Health care Association of New York State listed a number of concerns:

• The average age of practicing physicians in New York State is 52, and 16% are over the age of 65, meaning the pace of retirements will accelerate
• Nearly, 1,600 physicians retired or left their communities in 2009.

Today professional practices are faced with obligations and interfaces that may have never been covered in preparing to practice; a modern office includes:

    • Project management
    • Time management
    • Group dynamics and teamwork
    • Project delivery
    • Communication and leadership skills
    • Design and information technology
    • Marketing
    • Legal and licensing issues
    • Succession planning
    • Financial management
    • Risk management and professional liability insurance
    • Client and contractor relations

At times an overlooked thread that ties many if not all of these together is Operations Management; how to do the same thing better. operations management is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on managing all aspects of an organization’s operations.

“Standing pat may appear attractive, but being content with mere survival is a losing strategy.”

What are your tie breakers?
If your medical practice has all board certified doctor’s, the latest tools, technology and competitive costs? What’s the tie breaker? What makes you different?

The operations management might be the difference maker, operations management should make you and your partners think, challenge and change. A friend has a Professional Practice with eight physicians and a staff that includes an office manager; they also have relationships with an Insurance Agent, a CPA practice and Legal Council, but no one is responsible for the entire operation. There are few if any metrics in place. A New York Times best seller, “The Checklist Manifesto” sparked a number of discussions. The author links the safe landing by US Air in the Hudson and significant improvements to checklists.

Skilled Physicians spend years learning their art. Managing a successful practice requires additional skills. Some major universities have begun offering undergraduate degrees in Organizational Studies, aiming at the young professionals, trying to introduce them to operations and business. Outsourcing, purchasing leverage, job sharing, turnover and metrics may not be common thoughts in a professional practice. Would the practice be better is any or all were considered? Have you bench marked your practice? Do you know what your accounts receivable are by professional, what your costs are?

As the economy changes, more and more pressure and challenges are being placed on our Professional Practices. Building a solid practice, keeping a solid practice, all the time providing outstanding care and service is a full-time challenge for the professionals.

The Operations of the practice, having a plan, measuring and adjusting will be a key to profits, client satisfaction and making a difference — you need to tie all these areas together. Professional practices need plans, metrics and a willingness to change and improve.

All the runners in a race compete, only one wins.

Run to win!

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