How busy was your last week in Private Practice?
If you were lucky enough to be fully booked, did the week end with a feeling of satisfaction or overwhelm? If however, your patient numbers were a little lacklustre, did you spend your remaining time in a highly productive manner, gaining new prospects and marketing yourself online? Maybe it all felt ‘a little bit too much to get into’ or that you didn’t have a clear path going forward, and somehow you didn’t make progress despite there being availability in the schedule.
Here’s the odd thing…
We crave the first example of being 100% booked, but the paradox is that it creates a problem of not making enough time for marketing and nurturing referral relationships. If times are lean, instead of knowing exactly what we are going to be doing that day with our downtime, we tend to fill it with fluff/we go home early/or we decide to take on administrative tasks we feel are ‘too expensive’ to be outsourcing to others.
The reality is, only you can truly make relationships with potential referrers or patients.
So how do we know what to be focusing on?
The answer lays in a regular CEO day.
No matter what your ‘why’ was for becoming a clinician, in Private Practice, you are also taking on the role of company CEO. You need to make time for that role. You need to schedule time for thinking and decision making, so that you can effectively steer the ship.
Here is what I typically see…
Clinicians lurching from feast to famine in a very reactive (not proactive) manner.
GDPR is literally around the corner, yet many Clinicians haven’t even mapped out how they are going to cope with this. (Are you secretly hoping it’s going to pass you by like Y2K, and you’ll come out unscathed?)
In the corporate world, the CEO takes on the following roles.
1. Developing the vision for the company, and setting goals for the growth of that company.
2. Delegating the managing of the business to others which includes accounting, finance, tech, and drawing up marketing plans.
3. Clarifying the “Brand”.
4. Developing the systematisation of processes.
5. Building a team and ensuring the flow of communication.
Sound all a bit FTSE 100 to you?
Whilst you might not want to float your company on the stock market, there is still a thing or two you could learn about the art of business from FTSE companies.
So, I’m going to challenge you to take a CEO day to look at the following…
Ideally, try make this in a geographical location which is away from the clinic, home, and Netflix. It needs to be a space where you won’t be disturbed, and make sure you have access to a steady stream of tea and coffee and Itsu if you need it. Bring your laptop, bank statements and a large Pukka pad, then close the door behind you and get to work.
Choose your ‘biggest frog’ to start with, which is probably…
Getting close up and personal with your numbers.
(Okay, I’m going offer you a safe place to say that it’s alright to admit that you feel you’ve completely lost touch with your finances. It’s about building new systems from here on in.)
What is happening with your billings? Are you still trying to do this all by yourself, or is now the time to admit that you are rubbish at this/that your secretary is overburdened/or you are way behind on bringing in the invoiced income. From my experience working with clinicians, it’s a no-brainer to consider embracing outsourcing this to persons who specialise in billing.
Don’t think you are earning enough to justify? Don’t kid yourself.
D.I.Y. billing and administration is the number one activity which can slow the growth of your Private Practice. Why is this?
Because your hourly rate compared to the billing rate of others means it’s not worth your doing the work.
Instead, every hour you spend trying to do this yourself, you should be spent connecting with others and marketing your practice. You will gain far more financial benefits that way, and the kind that are actually compound in nature.
Can’t get your head around this mindset shift?
Imagine you had an external source that was paying you £200 an hour to get your marketing act together. You would find the momentum quickly gathers then.
Next, you might want to seriously consider the getting a bookkeeper for receipts and tracking incomes. Not only is it a real faff, but you risk losing money if it is done badly and a bookkeeper can keep you on top of your figures with a monthly report. They are better at this than you – and I guarantee that.
At the very least dedicate two hours every month, to closely examining your numbers. Where can you make some savings and where do you actually need to be prepared to invest more?
For example: Hiring a P.A. to help organise your appraisal documentation, so that you can be freed up to see patients.
Look at the kinds of patients you are seeing and how your “Brand” is (or isn’t) drawing in these kinds of referrals.
Where do you need to make some changes in your ‘message’? Are you wanting to see patients with exercise-induced asthma or are you more interested in treating patients with sarcoidosis?
Tighten up how you explain your niche to the world, then draw up a list of areas where that information needs to be broadcast from.
Delegating administrative work to others.
This literally comes down to how you use your time, and you need to go and look at this.
Remember: It’s not just about seeing patients, it’s about allocating time to continue building referral relationships.
Pull up the last week of your clinic diary and look at the number of patient hours that you worked, and then calculate how much time you spent on admin around that. Were you dictating or (boo hiss) actually typing your own letters? I’m willing to bet there is at least an hour of every day you can outsource to someone who is better at this and can do it at a lower hourly rate.
Think that you are not seeing sufficient patients to legitimise this? Think again…
Gone are the days where you need to hire a full-time secretary. There are plenty of services run by companies out there which will enable you to get the administrative support you need for a percentage of your earnings. This is as often as little as 10% plus a monthly retainer fee. That way, you will have everything covered, including dictation and transcription, billings and patient phone call, and even booking procedures that you need to carry out at a hospital. It doesn’t matter how big or small your practice is.
Take two hours out of your CEO day to focus on planning your marketing. Feeling queasy? There is no need when you look at it from the angle of how you can help people.
Who do you like treating?
How can you help those particular patients with your expertise?
Where do you need to connect with and meet potential referrers?
Examine closely how you are appearing to the outside world in terms of your blogs, video and social marketing.
Finally, and very importantly, ask yourself how are you keeping up with those connections, so that you don’t lose sight of each other.
Sometimes, we all need a little extra help in building our practices – from a business perspective, as well as a clinical one.
If you need help in getting it together for a CEO day…
We are waiting to help you gain more patients and boost your referrals
email or call us 0207 993 6425