Ivan Delman, DC offers advice on how to incorporate new practice management tips into an existing practice.

by Ivan Delman, DC 

Why Am I Here?

You’ve attended more seminars, taken more notes and spent more weekends sitting on hard chairs than you can recollect. You have shelves full of notebooks filled with terrific ideas, plans, strategies and the secrets of good practice management. Assuming you’ve absorbed some of that excellent information, now what do you do? How do you make it all work?

My first suggestion is to step back, inhale deeply, then a take a long look at your clinic operations. Then start by asking yourself, “Why does my practice exist?” Furthermore, “Where do I want to apply my talents?” The answers to those questions will be the basis for your mission statement.

It helps to understand that a mission statement is not some obtuse, lofty idea proposed by a paunchy pundit sitting cross-legged on top of a tall mountain. Quite the opposite. An easily understood mission statement is the launching pad that will shoot you to the stars. Your mission statement will help focus the direction you will want to take your practice.

Mission Statements Made Easy?

Mission statements are normally tailored to the personality and values of the manager creating that statement. Mission statements can be long, short or anywhere in between. They just have to make sense and be able to help guide the direction of your efforts and that of your staff.

Here’s an example of a reasonably short mission statement:

“The mission of the Do Right Chiropractic Clinic is to offer the benefits of our chiropractic services to the community of Dog Patch.We will maintain affordable fees through periodic evaluations and our hours will be tailored to meet the needs of our patients and community.We have a high interest and specialized training in the care of children; therefore, our emphasis will be directed toward providing services to the preteen citizens of Dog Patch and their families.”

Involve Your Staff

Your mission statement must be clear, easily understood and definitely capable of being easily communicated to your staff and patients. Also, your mission statement should be kept fresh by periodically being evaluated, then updated if warranted. Once your mission statement is formulated, it’s time to set your goals.

How to Set Goals

You certainly know how to set goals, but have you thought through the goal-setting process? For example, how do you word your goals? Do you make absolutely certain that your goals are distinct and separate from your objectives?

In a few words, goals are more generic than objectives. Some mentors prefer to use the word “strategies” in place of objectives. The terms are not as important as the concepts. The function of an objective is to provide a mechanism that will stair-step your progress along a series of ever-expanding short and long-term goals.

As an example, one of your goals could be, “To increase our new patient intake by 25% during the next quarter.”

One of the goal’s accompanying objectives could be stated as, “In the next 30 days, give three talks to community groups.” If you read closely, you’ll notice that the task of your objective is to move you closer to the attainment of a specific goal.

Another example of an objective designed to help accomplish your new patient-increase goal could be: “ Establish a health column in one of my community newspapers this month,” or “Initiate a strong internal referral program and have it up and running within the next two weeks.”

Your management skills will be stretched and enhanced if you set your goals just beyond your comfortable reach. In other words, don’t make them too easy. They have to be attainable but challenging. By having to grunt a little to make your goals, you’ll not only strengthen your management abilities but you’ll increase your confidence level as each goal is achieved.

Defining Your Objectives

Keeping in mind that your objectives are the specific stepping stones leading you from one goal to another will help you differentiate their wording. By following this planned protocol, you’ll not only more easily reach your goals but fly past them to even loftier and more challenging ones. Now that you are starting to have a higher level of goal achievement, you’ll have to start watching for another interesting phenomenon…too much success.

What did he say!

It’s a proven fact that by following the above format, you’ll begin experiencing a much higher degree of financial and patient care success. That success might be hard to handle unless you are proficient in utilizing the next logical step of good management: planning.

No Planning = Probable Failure

According to Entrepreneur magazine, “The second highest cause for professional practice failure is not planning for success.”

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Failure to plan is a lot like being the fastest car in a downhill race then, all of a sudden, remembering as you reach the bottom of the hill that you forgot to install a set of brakes. You may chuckle at the idea of too much success being a problem, but consider these quick questions. If your patient visits tripled:

• Are your patient appointment and record-keeping systems set up to handle the added volume?

• Are your office and staff hours sufficient to handle the increased visits? Simply put, do you have enough staff to handle all the new work?

• Do you have the right kind of staff? Will they fall apart under the added work load?

• Do you have a new patient intake system in place? Is it capable of properly scheduling all those new patients without interfering with your regular patient care?

• Are your supplies such as x-ray film, intake forms, file folders in good supply?

When we mentioned that lack of planning for success is the second highest reason for professional failure, can you guess the highest reason for professional failure? “The inability of management to properly plan, reach decisions and act upon those decisions.”

Well, you’re not going to have that problem because you now know the first couple of steps in the success process.

As we stated at the beginning of this article, having a successful practice goes beyond desire. It relies on constructing a strong management structure, coupled with realistic planning and flavored with the willingness to stretch your capabilities.

When you manage your practice using the above ideas, you definitely will be “Making It All Work.”

by Ivan Delman, DC. Reprinted with permission from Do Write Publishing.  

Dr. Delman is the author of the book The Business of Chiropractic: How to Prosper AFTER Startup. He has degrees in both business and chiropractic. After 38 years of enjoyable, productive work in both fields, he and his wife have retired to travel and write. He can be contacted at:   Ivan@BusinessofChiropractic.com.

Dr. Chris Clark, a chiropractor and consultant, purchased Do Write Publishing and Business of Chiropractic Publications in 2007. For more ways to improve your practice, visit  www.businessofchiropractic.com.