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5 common Medical & Dental Practice Challenges
I see firsthand, day after day, the major issues doctors face with trying to make patients happy while hoping to stay up-to-date with key technology changes that could make or break their practice in the long run. Not only is technology a valid concern, but making sure your employees are taken care of, and given the best work environment possible can be a hard line to maintain.
1. Slow antiquated computers
First off, don’t believe the infomercial “Speed up my PC” or similar variations. Those commercials prey on naive people and will waste your hard earned money and time.
Note: If you use a Mac or a LINUX based computer, disregard this. You don’t need any manual tuning.
1) Use Microsoft update and be sure to choose the “Custom” option. Select all the updates (except MS Live) and update your system. Use your Start menu to check for updates. Windows Update is included in Control Panel. In the future, to check for updates. Click the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Update.
2) Remove ALL unnecessary programs. If you don’t use it, delete it! Be careful and use the uninstaller that came with your program. If you get too aggressive, you can break things!
3) Update all of your programs, not just the Operating System. Often vendors will release fixes for problems, patch security holes and maybe even add new features.
4) FREE AV Program! Yes, it is FREE from Microsoft.
5) Piriform is your friend. Get and use their CCleaner and Defraggler Products. Again… FREE Note: Don’t schedule Defraggler it will wear out your drives by doing a lot of unnecessary maintenance. Also be sure to use the Registry Check feature in CCleaner. http://www.piriform.com/
That’s it! You have safely tuned your PC without inviting questionable entities into your computer. Did I mention that it was FREE?
Common sense states if it takes an extra 5 to 10 minutes per morning for your staff to get set up, online, and be productive, the overall cost per year to you is far more than the cost of a new computer. This does not even factor in the lost productivity and frustration that your staff endures. I personally recommend upgrading PC’s every 3 to 4 years, the costs are affordable enough to warrant this expenditure. Your staff will thank you for this.
Some items to consider:
1. Solid-state hard drives (SSD) – To put it simply they are much faster than their magnetic hard drive brothers, and resemble the speed of the flash drives that you carry in your pocket. Newer computers using this technology can boot up almost instantly, reducing the long wait times in the morning and can run programs very fast. Interested in the technology of SSD’s – Read more at Wiki.
2. Upgrade with more RAM (Random Access Memory) – More RAM the better, recommend 4 to 8GB of ram for most new PC’s. More RAM will help you multi-task and process information faster.
3. Two monitors – I for one have 4 monitors in front of me, while most may think that is overboard, it actually helps a lot. Researchers have said you can increase your productivity by 9 to 50 percent and make your workday easier. And you can begin using it right away just by adding a second monitor. Just be sure that your video card can accept two when you buy your new PC. Study if interested.
Donate your old PC
Recommendation: Donate your computer to a local school that is in need or other charity.
2. Why most EHR’s will fail, is yours next?
Choosing the wrong EHR could be catastrophic for your practice and cause severe financial harm. What would happen if your software went down for a month and you could not collect payments, files become corrupted, inaccessible patient data or productivity grinds to a halt due to your vendor not updating in a timely manner?
This very thing occurred with UCSF in California, Please note that I have no direct knowledge of what happened to UCSF during their implementation, which took place a few years ago. But according to blog Health Care Renewal , UCSF had to halt its $50 million roll-out midstream, doubtless at a huge cost, despite hand-holding from GE itself.
Competition is fierce between EHR vendors seeking to capitalize on federal stimulus opportunities, but many experts and industry insiders agree that only a handful of the strongest vendors will survive.
Like other industries – banking, insurance, airlines – it’s not a matter of if the industry will consolidate, it’s when. Development of a quality EHR product that meets increasingly stringent federal mandates – including enabling providers to achieve Meaningful Use stages 1, 2, and 3 and supporting ICD-10 code sets – requires substantial programming and development resources that small, under-capitalized vendors may struggle to pull off.
Some industry consolidation and product discontinuation has already occurred – just ask users of McKesson’s PracticePoint Manager™, MediNotes™, PeakPractice, and Allscripts Misys EMR, among others. Only the best EHR products will be acquired and supported by large vendors with deep pockets. Many systems will simply be discontinued and users will be left to fend for themselves.
3. Are you properly marketing your practice?
We recently wrote a very detailed article about “8 Quick Steps You Can Do Today to Set Your Healthcare Practice Up for Gigantic Success” that outlines some great ideas on how you generate huge interest from both patients and other doctors online.
Marketing has changed dramatically in the last few years, there are so many ways to capture the attention of potential patients that it takes some strategic planning to properly design an plan of action to follow that gets results.
How much should I allocate to my marketing budget?
I get this question a lot, there is no simple answer. When working with different types of practices that have different goals it’s important to realize what you want to gain from marketing, is it 10 more patients a month, or is it 50? You need to know the exact number and determine how much added revenue those additions will bring in.
Once you know how many new patients you wish to add/month and what the revenue is worth to you, allocate at least 20 percent of that profit to your new campaign. This will ensure that you will meet your goals if you follow the above article we provided.
4. How to increase staff morale?
No one enjoys constantly hiring new staff, and finding a front office administrator that will stick with you through thick and thin is very hard. These jobs are typically low paying with little to no benefits, so how do you make it better so your staff will stick around and help you grow your practice?
Recommendation: Just like a start-up incentive program, I would recommend creating an employee profit sharing pool of 5 to 15 percent, so as the practice grows and expands, so do the employee shares. This will create a sense of ownership and you and your patients will reap the rewards of better performance and care.
Another option is to create a monthly bonus program and ask your staff to participate in writing great articles for your website blog. If the goal is achieved, everyone that wrote a blog will share in the bonus.
Please refer to the previous section for how to properly create a blog on your website.
5. Hedging your practice against the unknown
With the threat of future Medicare payment rates being slashed, and a real ever-growing issue of uncertainty looming on the horizon. It has never been more important to hedge your practice against the unknown.
There are a few different ways for doctors reduce their financial risk; mind you this is just one idea, not including the stock market, real estate etc.
One potential investment opportunity that is readily overlooked is investing in healthcare start-ups that you believe in, and would readily use their product or service. By investing in a company that you would actually use, you can fuel its growth by being an evangelist and spearhead the movement by helping to promote it to all your colleagues.
Not only will you benefit potentially from the investment (10x to 100x returns or more) but also get a sense of pride of being a part of a company by giving great feedback to the start-up founders.
There are a few ways of going about getting involved, many hospitals that we have spoken to have their own Angel meetup groups that get together monthly and discuss investment opportunities. You can either create your own group, or join an angel group such as HealthTech Capital, or others in your local area.
One place to start is to visit Angel.co, an online investment forum for early-stage start-ups, a great resource to check out. There are criteria that will need to be met before investing, so please consult your tax and legal advisors.
One more tip (Well 8 tips) for you to grow your practice: Read more on this very detailed article about how to create amazing content that your patients will love and spread like wildfire through their social channels.
What do you do to promote your practice?