A successful practice from the inside out

April 1, 2008

A practice can lose money marketing externally if none of the employees internally knows about the campaign. Time, process, resources, and knowledge, "have to come together and they have to work efficiently for you to make a profit on your external marketing."

You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, your ideas won't get you anywhere, said Lee Iacocca, former Chrysler chief executive officer.

According to Polly Neely, a practice can lose money marketing externally if none of the employees internally knows about the campaign. Neely, a medical practice consultant from Philadelphia, said time, process, resources, and knowledge, "have to come together and they have to work efficiently for you to make a profit on your external marketing."

Maximize employee performance

Identify the root cause of substandard process performance, said Neely. The main cause of a process failing is that the employees don't know how to do it and it is too hard or because the old way was more comfortable for them, she said.

"When you are comfortable you will not grow, you will not make changes. You will not become step number two; you will always be step number one," said Neely.

"Does time manage you or do you manage time?" Neely asked. She suggested managing your time. In the practices that she timed, technicians' time spent walking usually added up to an hour and a half.

"Look at how your patient flow goes and how your schedule goes so that you can maximize your offices and your resources so that walk time is minimized," said Neely. More patients will be brought through, generating more money. "Then you can have more money to do external marketing," said Neely.

Patient referrals are the number one referral source, according to Neely. "Don't you think it's more important that we spend money marketing and training and making new creative staff than it is to market train and make new creative ads to go in a paper that our staff knows nothing about?" asked Neely.

The way a practice looks can also promote or demote the services it provides. "Your appearance is internal marketing," said Neely. "If you're touting that you have the best technology, at least have nice furniture and make it clean. At least have technicians and front desk people who are properly groomed."

The biggest thing that will inhibit a practice from internally marketing is an enabler, according to Neely. Administrators are considered enablers because they decide that a job isn't going to get done right unless they do it.

Neely said that wastes time and does not allow the staff to learn on their own. Employees settle at doing a job halfway because they know someone else will come along and finish it for them.

Keep informed

Process is very important, said Neely. She asked, "How many of you have campaigns running right now that your office has not been educated on?"

Instead of letting that happen, Neely advised educating the staff about all of the new campaigns. Receptionists are extremely important because they answer the phones and talk with patients the most.

Neely suggested letting the receptionist follow a technician or doctor around for a day so they can be educated and excited about the practice.

The process should be looked at on a quarterly basis. "Only 20% of your staff is following the process. Eighty percent are marching to their own drum and it's costing you money," said Neely.

Employees fall into three different categories: campers, quitters, and climbers. Get rid of quitters because they hold the practice back. Encourage climbers and let them take some initiative with projects.

"If you died tomorrow and didn't show up, could your office run without you?" asked Neely. "Make everybody around you as good or better than you are. If they can't be that way, get rid of them and find people that are."