HOW A FEW KEY AREAS DETERMINE
THE SUCCESS OF YOUR PRACTICE
As a practice owner, you're responsible for a LOT of things on a daily basis. You're responsible for providing the highest quality care to your patients, the managing and guidance of your staff, the internal and external marketing and operations required to keep your practice running smoothly, and the dozens of components within all these areas.
It can seem impossible, at times, to do all of these things at the level that you need to do them at. So what's the secret?
The Critical Few
It's not a secret of course, but something well known and too rarely applied. It’s the Pareto Principle, often called the 80/20 rule. I'm sure you're familiar with it - in essence, it suggests that effort and effect are often HIGHLY disproportional. We’ve all heard that "80% of your success comes from 20% of your activities." Or "90% of your new patients come from 25% of your marketing efforts."
It's a beautiful principle, in large part because we can see concrete examples of where it applies in our lives and businesses. The problem, of course, is identifying all of the areas where the effort is disproportionately rewarded, and focusing more resources on the right areas.
Complicating matters further, every area that you need to focus on in your practice has these "Pareto Areas." There are a few key principles in managing your staff, a few key principles in working with your patients, a few key areas in record keeping, and so on. Trying to break down all of the key areas is far beyond the scope of this article.
Taking a broader perspective, your practice as a whole also has some key Pareto areas, which we'll dive into here. Without taking the time to focus on these areas, all the rest is meaningless, because without them your practice will be running at a tiny fraction of its real potential.
Where are the critical few in your practice?
The concept of Pareto areas deserves a lot of thought. Entire books could be written about how to implement any one of them. Since we don't have that kind of space, we'll look at just three of the Pareto areas of your practice:
1. Patient Retention Systems
In an ideal world, all of your patients would be so motivated to take charge of their health that they would be beating down your door to be treated & continue coming in until they'd completed the treatment program that you set for them.
We both know that the world's not ideal.
The sad fact is that in many practices, 30-50% of all patients will quit with under 10 visits.
Even among long term patients, there is rarely a definite end-point where you know they’ll be leaving your practice. In fact, often you won't realize that a patient has quit for months after their final appointment. They just seem to fade away (for any number of reasons).
By putting more time, effort, energy or money into solving the problem of patient attrition, you're working on one of the single most important areas of your practice - namely, ensuring that patients have every opportunity to complete their treatment program. Without these systems in place, almost everything else you do is wasted, because your patients won't be around to notice it.
2. Staff Training and "Buy-In"
It's sometimes scary to acknowledge, but early in the patient relationship, your staff has more influence on patient perception than you do. Your staff is who your new patient first interacts with, it's who they speak to on the phone, and it's the last person they see when they leave their visits.
Given all of that, it's little wonder that training and nurturing your staff is one of the most fruitful areas to focus on. So where are the Pareto Points in staff training & buy in?
First, it's in taking a LOT of time to make sure that your staff knows, at a deep level, the 'success stories' from your practice. To make sure your staff knows exactly how your treatment has helped patients live healthier, happier, pain-free lives. And to understand their critical role in that. A great paper by XX in 20XX showed that by doing this, your employees will have a much greater sense of commitment to the work they're doing than if you ignore it, or even focus just on the benefits to the employees themselves.
The second Pareto area in here is in ensuring that your staff knows exactly what's expected of them, and has all of the tools & resources available to do it well. Without being extremely clear about what you want them to do, and without providing them the tools & resources to get it done, you're creating a lot of confusion for your staff - and nobody operates at peak performance in a state of confusion.
3. Patient Education Systems
The more your patients understand about what you do for them, and about what you can help them with, the more likely they are to stay with you, to refer others, and to benefit from what you do for them. I know, it sounds simple. And it’s easy to think “Well, all of my patients know what I do for them.” Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
There are any number of ways to address patient education – Some practices insist that all new patients attend a 30 minute “Introduction to Chiropractic” class, others developing multimedia marketing materials to convey the information, and some just make a point of spending a few more minutes with each patient talking about different areas of what you do. Obviously, the more ways you have to communicate with and educate your patient base, the better chance you have of helping them understand not only WHAT you offer, but also why it’s so important for their health and well being.
Failing to do this, and assuming that your patients know more than they do, is one of the primary reasons for patient attrition, with new patients and longer term patients alike. In fact, it’s hard to find a “Pareto area” in this critical activity – Almost without exception, the more time and effort you can spend in patient education, the better off you and your patients will be.
While there are any number of areas that command your attention in the running of your practice, there are some that are significantly more important than others. One of the real “secrets” to success is to find ways to invest more in these areas – more time, more effort, more money, and more energy. If the areas require skillsets that you don’t excel in, then hire others to take care of them. If they fall into areas that you can add real value to, then spend more time there.
The shift of focus to the real
high value activities in your
practice will give you real and