Pursuing a More Perfect Practice – July 2012

Pursuing   a   More Perfect Practice

A question  I often get when consulting with therapists is simply, “How can I make my practice better?” While oftentimes the answer revolves around strategies  to  increase productivity, efficiency  and  profit margins, sometimes the  issues are more subtle and directed toward how to make the practice owner feel better about what they do, and how they do it.  Practice owner feel better when they feel  useful but not used,  when they feel connected with their patients and colleagues, when they feel appreciated and when they know they make a difference.  Since we all know we can do it  better, what could a perfect practice encompass?

Can we become  more  readily available?? – We have all received that phone  call, be it from another therapist, a physician , or even a family member – “So and so”  just got their cast off… “ so and so”  is only in town for a few days, I am worried about “so and so’s” child…  Wouldn’t it be great to try to keep an  open appointment  in the weekly  schedule just  for those situations??  And how about improving   availability by  offering  easy access to scheduling – no talking to a prompt or machine, but going online to book a same or next day appointment, or calling in and doing so with a live patient intake coordinator.

Can we share up to date  info and advice online?  – How great would it be to have a current  online library of health information for patients and their families that you have already pre-screened   so that you know the information your patients is receiving is accurate and informative, and not misleading or hype. How about also   highlighting  disease-specific groups where families can connect with other families challenged by similar circumstances or similar medical conditions? And what about sharing stories  both  of success and distress –clips from families looking back at the things they would and would not  do if they did it all again.

Can we offer more e-visits, video-visits and two-way communication? Many therapists  want to be available to patients more  of the time, as long as  practicality and self-preservation are balanced in the equation. How great   would it be for  patients  to have access to their therapists  at reasonable intervals of time from the comfort of their home.?  Families could  stream 1-minute question videos asking for guidance, and therapists  can respond with 1-2 minute video answers. Imagine a practice where follow-up care , when appropriate can be  completed online, by phone or Skype.

Can our payment sources  acknowledge (all)  our  time spent, skill sets and communication offered?  If only third party and insurers  could value  what we know counts most –  our clinical expertise plus  our personal touch and time for  follow-up with patients, their families and other team members. Perfect practices  includes  getting paid regardless of whether  a visit that takes 15 minutes is on the telephone, on the internet, or in the office, and whether our time is “hands on” or “indirect” treatment services . A  payment structure that allows us to  reach  patients in ways they prefer, values the time it takes us  to communicate effectively, and utilizes the latest technology to make it happen efficiently and effectively. And of course a payment system that understands that  we need to imbed prevention and wellness into our treatment in order to have the largest impact on our patients.

 Bottom line, its not only patients that want to get better, therapists do too!

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