Highlighting what many dentists and orthodontists already know, the October 6th article, More Adults Need Braces and It Isn’t Like In High School, by Sumathi Reddy, is full of information. It covers the numbers, for example 1,225,850 adults receiving orthodontic care in 2012 the most recent data available (up 39% from 1996), the pros and cons of care provided to an adult, the motivation of adults to have an attractive smile, and the need to have periodontal disease at a minimum. In my view, this is an exceptionally beneficial article that orthodontists should discuss and link to on their websites, blogs, and for that matter consider ordering reprints to give away at consults. This article hit a prime demographic of generally affluent business oriented adults that are interested in improving themselves and have the financial resources to pay for care.
I often talk to Doctor CEOs about the model of their practice or the model they desire for their practice. In many cases we at Berning & Affiliates act to strengthen practices, clarify vision and mission and help implement a practice transition. Recently I had a doctor indicate that what he wanted was to have an aspiring practice, one that everyone from staff, suppliers, professionals guiding the practice and doctors held one goal, to do their part better. It is a very interesting way to think of what is usually an operational discussion. In this discussion the operations were important to this doctor but not the most important. What was desired was an investment of caring by all involved to continuous improvement. It was a fresh take and one I thought would be interesting to share.
Are you and your practice involved in your community? For many Doctor CEOs this question has a strong affirmative, yes! But surprisingly for many others, especially I am finding for some group practices, doctors are absent from participating in the life of the community. They may live in a different community, feel they do not want to be involved or find themselves too busy with personal and family matters. Yet these communities need the perspective that health care professionals bring. Doctor CEOs in our view should be among the most visible in helping to advance the general well being. Sometimes not easy, but very rewarding! We encourage you to help move your local corner of the world just by being involved!
One of the traits I have found that endears a doctor to staff, patients and prospective patients is an optimistic viewpoint. I’ve seen it many times in comparing practices, in discussing doctor’s performance with staff and in evaluating marketing plan implementation. Repeatedly, the optimistic doctor that expresses a “we are glad to be here, happy to be of service and looking forward to a positive result” is ahead on almost any measure when compared to a more passive personality. It is one of the key items I suggest for younger doctors at this time of year considering a new practice opportunity and for practice owners looking at prospective associates, namely what is the optimism level of the doctor(s) you are evaluating?
Doctor CEOs sometimes wish for exactly what they do not have. Some larger practice CEOs on occasion wish their practices were smaller, reasoning they would have greater operational flexibility. Some smaller practice CEOs want to be much larger, reasoning there are few problems that a large practice can not solve given its greater resources. But both approaches can miss the boat. During many of my recent planning meetings in the west and eastern parts of our country it was apparent that being nimble, no matter what the size, was the one enduring characteristic that is most valuable in today’s economy. Using the size and scope of services offered by the practice to educate your local market on who and what is offered at the practice location can be an effective approach for any size of practice.
Are larger practices the only ones that get a high return from having doctors and staff be part of management, marketing or other planning or task oriented sub-groups? The answer is no! Doctor CEOs of all sizes of practices can extend their leadership and motivate staff to achieve significant results by creating a mini-group and assigning a task or tasks to it. For example, social media marketing vs in office print materials for marketing could be two mini-groups both working on their area of endeavor but sharing in marketing results. The fact is that a visible group, even in a smaller practice, brings attention to those involved, the group usually seems to raise better ideas and the members of the group can act to raise the level of motivation of all participants. I encourage Doctor CEOs of all size practices to explore the use of mini-groups to target objectives.
In recent discussions with Doctor CEOs I have seen two responses to current events. First, doctors that continue to search for opportunity to grow the practice, despite current and past local, regional and national economic issues. Second, doctors that are hunkering down, hoping that things change but not working to change anything. As I mentioned in my Facebook note for this week, I am working with a Doctor CEO that is aggressively seeking growth, taking on practice locations that others have left for dead. As a result deals are being explored, new doctors to help with the locations are being sought and deepened connections with all kinds of local organizations and people are helping the doctor advance. Here’s a suggestion for any doctor that thinks the way forward at this time is to do nothing: to improve your circumstance there is power in being on the move and a good planning session might just be the ticket
I often find during my consulting sessions with Doctor CEOs that they are isolated. Many seem to rely on very few advisors, sometimes limiting guidance to the practice accountant, a supply vendor and a few colleagues. Yet these same doctors readily admit that they are surrounded by very capable people, a local attorney, banking and insurance representatives, civic and government contacts and more. They just don’t think to access these very good brains! Some good questions they should ask are: perspectives on the health of the local economy, plans for the area development, opportunities to serve the needs of the schools or community. We are about to turn a corner and enter a New Year. I’d like to suggest that Doctor CEO’s make of list of contacts they have and make it a point to have a conversation with those on the list over the course of the next year. I know that those contacts will have lots to share and enjoy doing so with a local doctor!
Here at Berning & Affiliates we are very involved in year end and next year planning for doctors. It is amazing how many of our clients come to the meetings and talk about ideas they or staff or a spouse have for the practice but not done much to move forward. One new doctor client said, after going though our Doctor CEO Practice Planning meeting, “It is no wonder many of my ideas in years past did not happen – there was no step by step planning and even less implementation!” Doctors often have great ideas to help advance their practice, but an idea is just that if it is not evaluated, tested and if appropriate, put through a rigorous planning process and then implemented.
As we turn toward the end of the calendar year, I have noticed there is a tendency that many Doctor CEOs have to begin to float into the Holiday Season. They seem to take their attention off accomplishing lingering practice objectives at one of the most critical times of the year. My experience in guiding practices is that many of those objectives are nearly in reach and can be accomplished if the doctor focused time and resources. The suggestion is to be disciplined and ask staff to participate in prioritizing any remaining practice administration and/or marketing objectives — then launch into completing them before year end. You will find it is a great source of pride for Doctors and Staff to wind up the year having accomplished major milestones and not let them drag into another year.