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!