AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - 12

RUNNING THE PRACTICE // FAST
XXXXXXX
PRACTICE

QUESTIONS THAT CAN

BOOST PRACTICE PERFORMANCE
John B. Pinto
"The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge."

E

very doctor you ever worked
for, in the course of their
training, developed and
semi-customized a question
set to help them understand
each patient's eye health.
They don't ask every patient
every question. But by the end of
a typical clinic day, if you were to
take an inventory, you would see
the same questions asked again
and again. The most thoughtful
doctors refine and personalize their
question sets constantly.
The same clinical art of asking
questions can be applied to practice
management. Here's a starting
point, with questions you can
refine and apply daily, weekly, and
in some cases monthly or annually
in your practice. Some questions
are micro, some macro. Some
should be posed directly to your
doctors or direct reports. Some
should be posed to rank-and-file
staffers. Some of the answers you
get will speak for themselves and
some should be cross-checked with
outside experts.
Your practice-in both clinical
and business dimensions-is the
most important "patient" you care
for. It's certainly the most demanding. Learning to ask the right
questions every day will improve

12

AE // July/Aug 18

-Thomas Berger
your organization's treatment plan
and prognosis.
THE QUESTIONS
1. Do we all know what we want
to do? Is it written down? Edited periodically? The start of
every business plan in a business as personal as medicine
is your deep understanding
of each doctor's professional
goals, because these ultimately
drive collective, institutional
aspirations.
2. How cohesive and aligned is
our practice team? Does your
practice have sufficient organizational "connective tissue"
so that the lofty goals held by
the doctor-owners are being
translated completely into
workday action?
3. Do we know what dimensions
of our practice are growing,
shrinking, or staying the
same? Bookkeeping controls
must be in sync with the scale,
financial challenges, and aspirations of your practice.
4. Do we have control over
the volume of patient visits
and the mix and volume of
surgical cases in our practice?
Rather than just taking what
comes through the door, es-

5.

6.

7.

tablish specific annual volume
performance goals describing
the number of new and total
patients and mix of services
you want to provide. Then
compare these figures monthly
to actual performance, implementing whatever marketing
actions are needed to meet
your goals.
Do we budget each new year?
How accurately? The rigor
with which you undertake
annual budgeting should
be proportionate to your
practice scale and pace of
change. Budgets are more than
cost-containment: They align
practice owners and managers
on company priorities.
Are there costs we could
reduce without adversely
impacting quality? For example, replacing reception area
coffee, tea, and snacks with
a glass-fronted refrigerator
containing chilled water still
provides an appreciated amenity and conveys welcome, but
at lower cost and with fewer
messes to clean.
Would these cost containment
efforts backfire and actually harm profitability? For
example, reducing marketing
costs $50,000 annually might
reduce revenue by $100,000.
Dismissing two techs might
save $100,000 annually, but



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4

AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - Cover1
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AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - Cover3
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