You will forgive me if I am preaching to the converted, but we’re getting to the end of 2017 and it’s a time when we should be reflecting on how our practices have shaped up in terms of growth.
It’s also important to get to the end of 2017 and know in your heart of hearts, that you haven’t been a douche bag. Now’s a good time to ask ourselves, ‘going forward is there anything I probably shouldn’t be drawn towards doing in my practice?’
You might be thinking that this couldn’t possibly apply you…
But, sometimes in Private Practice, we can be tempted into situations which might feel compromising, particularly if it involves the behaviour of others. Private Practice is a competitive world and there are individuals out there who will stop at nothing to poach your patients, bad mouth you to anyone around, and generally flog snake oil. Thankfully, there aren’t many of these characters, but it can be galling to watch them raking it in whilst you behave ethically.
Here’s the thing; it takes a long time to earn a good reputation and about four and a half minutes to trash it…Make sure you hold onto your hard earned, excellent clinical reputation.
Three key areas you might want to think about avoiding, when growing your practice.
Do Not get locked into financially driven, back scratching arrangements with others.
So, what does this really look like?
All referrals for patients should be driven by patient need. No doubt, you will naturally have a reliable set of go to people for onward referrals.
Good clinical relationships will naturally lead to back and forth referrals, but as soon as you wrap a money framework around this, it can get a bit messy. If you are receiving a top slice or financial incentive for your referrals, it can easily backfire.
In 2015 the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) put a ban on “Financial schemes that could induce Doctors to give preference to the facilities of a particular independent hospital operator, when they treat or refer patients”.
Whilst this applies to hospitals and clinics, you should use it as a guideline when it comes to professional relationships. Patients are as switched on as you are and the moment they sniff a slimy backhander, you have lost them, and the person who referred them to you.
Another reason not to do this is if the clinician you are referring to does something clinically unsound or ethically tacky. You will effectively have been a paid vehicle to that process.
All clinical relationships should be founded on trust, and you should be able to walk away from them when that trust is broken…Don’t find yourself tied down.
Beware the lure of a shiny new machine.
Depending on your specialty, there will come a time when you are romanced by the lure of a shiny new machine.
Let’s imagine that you are a physio practice and you have decided that you would like to look at purchasing said machine as a way of having a tool which helps fulfil a patient need (for example, shockwave therapy). Shiny machines can be very expensive and whilst purchasing one to grow your practices isn’t unethical, persuading your patient to part with their hard-earned savings for a clinical indication it wasn’t devised for, is well, a bit dodgy.
The other issue is the temptation to use it as your sole treatment, because you bought it, it’s there and it needs to pay for its self. Feedback from patients quickly gets around, and you would hate to find yourself being known as “the person who uses that ray gun on everybody.”
Watch out for Overtreating.
All of us want to help our patients and sometimes this leads us to being a little bit blinkered in our approach.
We might find ourselves gaining small successes, but we might keep pushing well beyond the stage when we should have paused and asked for a further opinion. In large practices, there can be a top-down pressure as well, to treat a patient for a certain number of sessions before you change tack.
If you have ever had a patient say to you “Do you think we should get another opinion or get some tests done, because we are not making much progress here?”, then this might be a trap you are falling into.
Remember, it’s healthy to ask for the feedback of others. Put your ego on a shelf for a few minutes, and ask “Did I refer at the right time or were there clinical hints or signs that should have made me refer earlier?”
“Keeping your nose clean” and keeping it patient (and not money) focused, will bring you greater success and raving fans in the long run.
Sometimes, we all need a little help and guidance with our Private Practice,
We are waiting to help you gain more patients and boost your referrals
email or call us 0207 993 6425