“Concierge Medicine is about doing something different, not doing the same things you’ve always done. If you’re too busy [in your practice] to not exercise good judgment when it concerns your staff, you will catch the shrapnel of their bad decisions. To which we say ‘as they go, you go …’ “
By Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief
In the past month alone, I’ve had several conversations with about eight to ten Physicians in Concierge Medicine that were discussions primarily centered around staff.
Whether it was a ‘thank you!’ from a Physician about a recent story we published or a question, comment or a concern, the issue of staffing is one that plagues every medical office, every business and every employer. Concierge Medicine is not exempt from these challenges as many Physician’s can attest and will relay this October in Atlanta at the 2017 Concierge Medicine FORUM (Oct. 27-28, 2017) — click here to register/learn more/schedule >>.
As we unpack this complicated topic you should understand that you are not alone when wrestling with these issues inside your practice. The business of medicine isn’t easy. It is interesting to note that our culture in business today … more or less shames business owners for having these struggles inside a company. ‘You didn’t know this was happening in your business?’
It is even worse for Physicians on an ongoing basis.
This article today is about revisiting an important topic and exercising good judgment on a regular basis. It is not about drawing harsh conclusions about the daily delivery and operations of a complicated healthcare practice and what it should or could look like.
“Business is tough,” says Dr. Chris Ewin of 121MD in Fort Worth, TX. “If you are doing something just for the money, you are never going to enjoy it. You will be the hardest boss you have ever had. So, find something you love and pursue it. Follow this advice and you will set yourself up for an enjoyable future in medicine.”
We recently asked [Summer 2017] our Concierge Medicine Today and DPC Journal Physician Readers the following question ‘How many business education hours [or #er of courses] did you take in medical school?’
- 70% said … Less than 5 Business Edu. courses.
- 25% said … Less than 20 hours of Business Edu.
- Less than 5% said … 30+ hours of Business Edu.
“Two notable observations we encountered throughout our entire [Top Doctors in Concierge Medicine, 2017-2018] review process was related to patient comments received prior to transition and staff issues— which seem to plague most medical offices, even those inside the four walls of a Concierge Medicine practice,” said Tetreault. “A physicians reputation in the public and online is dramatically different from the patient reviews they may receive prior to a physicians entry into Concierge Medicine vs. after the conversion. Many [physicians] go from zero to hero in the eyes of their patients in a matter of weeks or months. We have also noticed that the physicians staff and their individual attitudes towards patients still remains a sore spot among the doctor’s and patients concerns. Even post-transition, when physicians are well into managing their Concierge Medicine members … managing staff inappropriately can impact the clinic’s annual patient retention and ultimately, their bottom line. However, it is amazing what can be accomplished when Physicians walk this healthcare delivery process out and into their own communities. It is only now, that when we are able to look back and track these dramatic career moves of physicians that we see why so many patient experiences make so much sense.”
Here’s another true, anonymized example that we received this summer which I think provides a lens of clarity for our readers which is undeniable. It is a polarizing example that you may relate to and I hope many reading this, will learn from. After pondering, look inside the four walls of your own practice and see if this is happening to your patients.
“… she was going to a doctor who she loved, but did NOT like the staff as they were rude, lazy, etc. She had an appointment with her doctor and the Doctor was there [inside the office building]. But, she was sitting in her car. She just didn’t want to face or deal with the staff’s rudeness. Her doctor actually called her asking if she forgot about her appointment or was running late. She replied “I’m here, sitting in my car”. Then went on to say “I don’t want to come in because of your staff and how rude they are …” The Doctor replied “I will be right there.”
Pause. Whoah. Are you kidding me?
Your Staff, whether you believe it or not, influences the direction and quality of your practice and can shape the experience(s) [for better or worse] that patients have in the practice/program. Whether you have a small, family-like atmosphere with friendly staff whom you’ve known for years or multiple new hires that come and go … all of these people are all moving the direction of your practice, your reputation with specialists and ultimately, your influence with patients along a certain path. The question for you is, is this the direction you want to go?
Patients are hesitant to complete surveys they receive from medical offices, even it is labeled anonymous. They are afraid it will impact the relationship with their Physician. They are afraid it will negatively impact the care they receive in the future. And, finally, they are afraid if they speak up, it will impact their bill. It is hard to find a good Physician these days who is accepting new patients, spends the time necessary to gather all the facts and has empathy for their Patients. Patients are afraid to speak up and tell their Physician that they are having an issue with a member of the staff. They fear that it will ultimately result in the Physician’s dislike of them personally and possible termination from practice.
This is what our healthcare marketplace today feels like for millions of patients every single day. That’s why what Concierge Medicine and other healthcare delivery model variants are accomplishing with time … is so invaluable and critical to our ecosystem today. Concierge Medicine is about doing something different, not doing the same things you’ve always done.
For example, a long-time patient of a medical practice (15-years +) walks into the same office one day and learns that the dental hygienist they’ve come to enjoy seeing has moved onto another position. Now, a new member of the staff is hired and the replacement is unfriendly, direct and derogatory towards the patient.
Does the patient say something? Will it impact the relationship with the practice? Will it impact billing? Worse, could speaking up impact the future of the care they need? Remember, the patient likes the doctor but dislikes the staff.
To Be Continued … Come Back for Part 2 … to be released at http://www.ConciergeMedicineToday.com on September 12th, 2017 …