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10 Books Every New Medical Practice Manager Should Read

 

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Daniel Pink recently published a list of 10 books every new manager should read. I’d like to spin his list into my own 10 books that I recommend for all new healthcare managers.

Dan’s pick #1: ‘Drive’ by Daniel H. Pink

I agree with his description:

In this best-selling business book, Pink explains why, contrary to popular belief, extrinsic incentives like money aren’t the best way to motivate high performance. Instead, employers should focus on cultivating in their workers a sense of autonomy, mastery, and purpose in order to help them succeed.

I have always felt that as a manager, my job is to make sure employees succeed, not look for the ways in which they fail.

Dan’s Pick #2: ‘The One Thing You Need to Know’ by Marcus Buckingham

I’ve not read this book, but I would replace it with my all-time recommendation The One Minute Manager’ by Ken Blanchard. I have given this book to scores of people that I’ve worked with over the years and I recommend it because it introduces you to the seminal concept of

“Praise immediately in public, critique later in private.”

I do agree on capitalizing on individual’s greatest strengths, but especially in small offices, one does not have the ability to craft jobs or tasks that play to one’s individual strengths. You can certainly search for those strengths during the recruiting phase, understanding what qualities often are reflected in those that are good at the front desk, in the exam room, etc.

Dan’s Pick #3: ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman

I had never heard of this book, but now I am anxious to read it. It sounds like it covers things I had to learn along the way, the hard way. Pink says:

Kahneman, a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in economics, breaks down all of human thought into two systems: the fast and intuitive “System 1” and the slow and deliberate “System 2.” Using this framework, he lays out a number of cognitive biases that affect our everyday behavior, from the halo effect to the planning fallacy.

Dan’s Pick #4: ‘Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader’ by Herminia Ibarra

Right away I have to say that I was turned off by the notion that you can be too authentic at work,. Authenticity can be much more of a problem for women than for men. Dan says:

For example, Ibarra, a professor at business school INSEAD, suggests leaders act first and then think, so that they learn from experimentation and direct experience. There’s even an entire chapter devoted to the dangers of being too authentic at work.

Being authentic doesn’t mean wearing your emotions on your sleeve, or making all employees best friends. It does mean being the same person at work that you are at home. See my blog post “Should (Female Leaders Cry at Work?”

Try ‘Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead’ by Sheryl Sandberg. Even if you’re a man. 

Dan’s Pick #5: ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie

Couldn’t agree more! This is a classic and there’s a reason it’s a classic – it is a book that not just all healthcare managers should read, it’s a book that all humans should read. In case you can’t find the time or justification to read HTWF&IP, my mother-in-law’s homespun synopsis of the book is “You enter a room and say hello to everybody.” Got it?

Dan’s Pick #6: ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck

This is another book that had not crossed my path before, but one that sounds similar to #2, only applied to oneself. I would substitute ‘Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking’ by Malcolm Gladwell for a slightly different take on listening to oneself to bolster confidence and self-learning. Actually, I recommend every one of Malcolm Gladwell’s books for a good read with powerful insights.

Dan’s Pick #7: ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius and Gregory Hays

To bring things into the 21st century, I suggest ‘Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best…and Learn from the Worst’. Author Bob Sutton is a hero of mine, if only because he had the chutzpah to write ‘The No Asshole Rule’, which I live by in my business. One of the foundations of my consulting firm is that I don’t work with mean people. I’ve had to fire a few (clients) along the way, but not many.

Dan’s Pick #8: ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe

If you didn’t cover this book in graduate school, or didn’t go to graduate school, pick up Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century’. It’s the book that changed the way we all look at healthcare and it’s good background reading for where we are today.

Dan’s Pick #9: ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths’ by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

Seems similar to Pick #2.

Dan’s Pick #10: ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins

Yes, and yes.

READERS: What books would you recommend to a new manager in healthcare?

Posted in: A Career in Practice Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Quality

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A Manage My Practice Classic: Five Simple but Powerful Performance Evaluation Questions

Performance Review

This continues to be one of our top ranking posts of all time.

This tells me that people continue to struggle with the process of evaluating employee performance.

The point of the “Five Questions” evaluation is not to focus on the fact that the employee is often tardy or doesn’t complete assignments on time – those things should be initially dealt with outside of this process (remember the old adage “No new news at the performance evaluation.”) They can be added to #3 as goals, but the idea is to to dig under those things and see if the employee is dissatisfied, overwhelmed or under-challenged.

I typically use this form at 90 days after hire, then at the one year mark, then every 6 months thereafter.

Yes, evaluating this much is very time-consuming – but it pays BIG dividends.

Invest in your employees by using this form and meeting for at least an hour – you might be surprised that it’s one of the most in-depth evaluations you’ll ever do!

This is a VERY succinct performance evaluation that I’ve used for years. Called “Five Questions”, the employee completes it, submits it to the manager, then together they discuss, evaluate and add to it during the evaluation interview. Here are the questions:

  1. What goals did you accomplish since your last evaluation (or hire)?
  2. What goals were you unable to accomplish and what hindered you from achieving them?
  3. What goals will you set for the next period?
  4. What resources do you need from the organization to achieve these goals?
  5. Based on YOUR personal satisfaction with your job (workload, environment, pay, challenge, etc.) how would you rate your satisfaction from 1 (poor) to 10 (excellent.) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

You do have to stress that question #5 is not how well they think they’re doing their job, but how satisfied they are with the job.

The great thing about this evaluation is that it is one piece of paper and not too intimidating. Staff can use phrases or sentences and write as little or as much as they like. If it’s hard to get a conversation going with the employee, ask them “What was your thought process when you assigned your job satisfaction a number __.” Usually that opens the floodgates!

If you use a goal-oriented evaluation like this one, you will find that employees will grasp that you are asking for their performance to be beyond the day-to-day tasks, and to focus on learning new skills, teaching others, creative thinking and problem-solving and new solutions for efficiency and productivity.

Posted in: Human Resources, Leadership, Manage My Practice Classics

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Ch-Ch-Ch Changes: Endings & New Beginnings by Consultant Bob Cooper

Managing Change by Bob Cooper

As we pass Labor Day I find myself thinking about the transition from summer to fall, even though the fall season doesn’t officially begin for a few more weeks. It seems as if the pace starts to pick up again. Vacations come to an end, students return to school, and business tends to accelerate.

Change is a constant. Why do some people embrace change and others struggle?

After all, we know that the seasons change, one ends and a new one begins. In business, projects come to an end, and new ones begin. Changes in expectations, new technologies, increased competition, reduced margins are just a few examples of the changes businesses face today.

As a leader, it is very important that you take a good look in the mirror and reflect on how you embrace change.  As a model for others, you set the tone for how your team will be able to demonstrate resilience when facing the business headwinds.

In order for you to assist others to move through the changing seasons, you need to understand what happens to others when facing change. Change is external to the individual. A new boss, revised policy, or a new role become understood once explained to staff.  However, individuals react to changes differently.  The reason for this is some team members psychologically struggle to come to terms with the change.  They find it difficult to make the internal transition.  In my experience, the number one reason for this is fear. Perhaps they are not confident in their ability to deliver on the change.  They may be hesitant to take a risk due to a fear of failure. They don’t feel as safe or secure.

Questions you should ask yourself during times of change.

What do my team members need to let go of?

What do they feel they are losing?

Transitions require endings. Great leaders understand that certain changes have a big impact on individuals. Some individual’s self-esteem is tied to the old process. They may have felt an enormous sense of pride in what they had accomplished.  Great leaders effectively assist others to work through these endings, and become comfortable with transition.

The following are a few suggestions to assist others through change and transition:

  1. Explain what is changing and why it is changing. Let others know what is not changing.
  2. Allow staff to express concern, and show empathy for anyone struggling to embrace the change. Be tolerant of mistakes. Mentor others to turn mistakes into opportunities for learning and growth.
  3. Maintain ongoing two-way communication throughout the change process.
  4. Engage others in making the change work.  Listen to staff ideas and incorporate suggestions that are beneficial for the business.
  5. Be positive and promote a feeling of optimism.

Great leaders assist team members to come to terms with their endings, and work hard to help others to find new beginnings. Things will not be the same, but as a leader you can help staff to develop the competence and confidence to move forward.

You will be able to assist most team members to move through the changing seasons and find comfort in new beginnings, if you move through the transition yourself.  If you are stuck in the summer, as we embark on the fall, how can you expect your team to turn the page?

Great leaders treat each and every team member as a unique individual who experiences change in their own way. Without judgment, great leaders meet staff wherever they need to be met.  Some staff become the champions of certain changes, and others need a lot more attention.

One of the most important lessons in leadership (and in life) is to treat every person you meet with total respect regardless of how they deal with the seasons of change. Not everyone can be the “A” student, but they all deserve to be in the classroom.  An individual may ultimately need to leave the room, but this should be handled with complete respect, understanding and compassion.

Bob Cooper: We are very pleased to announce that in collaboration with Consulting For A Cause, we will be providing another one day “Discovery Session” on Thursday, October 17 in Chappaqua, NY.  You will be provided with the opportunity to capture in your personal journal the following – how to turn talents into sustainable strengths, lead a life with purpose and passion, achieve quantum leaps in performance, brand yourself for future success, achieve a sense of work-life balance, and how to effectively execute your business strategies. Space is limited. To register, please go towww.consultingforacause.com

For a complete listing of our services, including our books “Huddle Up”, “Leadership Tips to Enhance Staff Satisfaction and Retention”, and “Heart and Soul in the Boardroom” please visit us at www.rlcooperassoc.com or call (845) 639-1741.

Bowie Photo Credit: Tim Yates via Compfightcc

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Posted in: Day-to-Day Operations, Human Resources, Leadership

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What Doctors Can Learn from Hip Hop Mogul Jay-Z

Jay-Z could teach your Doctor something about MarketingDo you know who Jay-Z is?

If not, chances are your kids do. Jay-Z is one of the most successful rap artists of all time, and has parlayed that success into a career in fashion, merchandising, his own line of vodka, as well as an ownership stake in the NBA’s New Jersey Nets franchise that he recently sold to begin a new career as a sports agent. More than anything, Jay-Z has found a way to brand himself as someone who brings glamour, street credibility, and cool to any project he is involved with. His success, beyond the normal hard work and talent, is ultimately in marketing himself.

Where do Doctors come in?

The healthcare industry is focused on marketing more than ever. Declining reimbursement, increasing regulation, and the long-term shift from volume to value have turned the heat up on physicians, practices, hospitals and systems to change the way they  do healthcare business to cut costs, improve outcomes for patients and deliver more value. Cost matters now more than ever for all the stakeholders in healthcare, and with more competition comes the need for ways to separate yourself in the market, and engage with potential and current patients.

This summer Jay-Z put out a new album and he did it in a very unique way

To promote his album, Jay-Z ran a commercial during Game 5 of the 2013 NBA finals announcing that he had recorded a new album, and that it would be available to download, free of charge for the first million people to download it from a mobile app made especially for the release. The catch? The album would only be free to people who had a Samsung mobile device – a mobile phone or tablet. Jay-Z signed an exclusive deal with Samsung to promote the album (modestly titled Magna Carta Holy Grail), Samsung products and the free mobile app to get the album before it was available via retail. Because of the hype (and the price, of course) the million downloads happened almost as soon as the album was made available on July 4th.

    • Samsung purchased the albums from Jay-Z, so RIAA certified the album Platinum immediately.
    • Samsung was able to associate themselves with one of the biggest music releases of the year, and guarantee that only their current (and future) customers were first to hear it.
    • More than that, using the permissions of the mobile app, both Jay-Z and Samsung were able to get tons of valuable market research about the internet and mobile habits of the downloaders.
    • The fans (at least the first million of them with a Samsung) got a brand new album from Jay-Z for free.

This is a basic form of content marketing, but it was groundbreaking for an artist as big as Jay-Z and a company as big as Samsung.

What can doctors learn?

Market research is critical. Jay-Z made a few million selling the digital copies of his album to Samsung, but the information he gained from the app downloads was priceless for future collaborations. 

The more you know about your patient base and where they come from, the better. For niche specialists, your market might be global so you’ll need to know more about them to reach them. Market research can take many forms, from hard data from census and surveys to anecdotal methods as simple as asking one of your patients “What could we be doing better?” In a future where providers are reimbursed based on value, leveraging the data in your EMR to understand your patient population as a whole will be critical to many of your most important business operations.

You gain by giving things away for free. By buying and giving away a million Jay-Z albums, Samsung became aligned with a major force in global culture and music  – and probably sold a few phones too.

What about all of the questions you hear over and over again on the phone and in office visits? Seasonal stuff about allergies, sunburns, the flu and physicals for sports. What if you gave this info away to anyone who wanted it on your practice website? With the changes coming in the ACA, what if your practice manager wrote a post or white paper about how your patients can prepare for what will and won’t change? If your practice offers a special service that is hard to find locally for many people, what if you prepared an ebook about how your particular therapy benefits patients, or how they can change other lifestyle habits to complement their current therapy? All of these things are ways to reach a wide variety of people, gain credibility, and give away high-quality free information that can be converted to marketing leads for your practice.

Separate yourselfJay-Z probably couldn’t have released his first album in this manner. Jay-Z has been successfully building his brand for almost twenty years now though. The name Jay-Z has come to mean quality.

To compete and thrive, healthcare providers must be able to offer a level of service and execute that service in a way that makes them stand out from the crowd. If someone moves to town and Googles the name of family practice doctors in your area, do you know whose practice comes up in the results, and how you can capitalize on that? If people ask their neighbors who is the best cardiologist in town, would they say your name? If you treat a more specialized population, where do they gather to compare caregivers, and what do they say about you? To brand yourself today as a quality care provider, you have to actively highlight and grow your footprint and reputation for outstanding value and patient satisfaction.

Physicians and other healthcare providers may never listen to Jay-Z, or any rap. But chances are, Jay-Z’s marketing example could lead the way.

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Posted in: Innovation, Leadership, Practice Marketing, Quality, Social Media

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5 Ways Technology Can Help Your Patient Relationship Management

Using Technology to Improve Patient Relationship ManagementPatient relationship management is about more than just healthcare issues; it’s about building a connection that leaves your patients feeling that you genuinely have their personal interests in mind. We all love to be recognized, and your patients appreciate it when you recall what their children’s names are, what you discussed with them during their previous visit, and where they went for their vacation.

It’s pretty impossible to keep track of everything if you have several hundred patients, however. That’s where technology can help you. Remember the old box of patient card files on which you’d make notes? Now, keeping track is just so much easier with the various tools available to physicians.

#1: Keep Electronic Records

If you’re a typical technophobe and don’t relate well to unfamiliar software programs, your record-keeping can be as easy as a Word or Text document for each patient. Set up a template for yourself that lists the data you want to keep track of, and simply enter the information into the file after each patient visit. Information could include fields such as:

  • Personal info
  • Family details
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Allergies
  • Medication
  • Visits

As long as you update the patients’ records diligently after every visit, this patient relationship management system will work for you, although it doesn’t enable you to communicate regularly.

#2: Use a Spreadsheet

A slightly more sophisticated way of keeping records than basic documents, Excel spreadsheets offer data sorting abilities that are useful. You can also keep all your patients’ information in one file, which saves you having to track and open multiple files. Use the worksheet tabs to categorize and group patients by type of illness or some other criteria that’s meaningful to you.

#3: Set Up a Database

There are multiple free and paid database programs available that you can use to set up a patient relationship management system. From Microsoft Office’s Access program through to Apache Open Office’s Baseand the software will not only store the information you add but generate reports, graphs, reminders and a mailing list that you can use with an email marketing program for communication purposes.

#4: Get a CRM Program

Commercial CRM programs such as InTouch CRM and BatchBook enable medical practices to store patient information,communicate via email or text message, and keep track of message opens and click throughs.  A customized CRM program can do the same for your practice. Not only does the program have the ability to store all relevant information about each patient, but you can set up alerts to identify critical changes in the patient’s condition based on data input from one visit to the next – without having to do a manual evaluation.

The patient relationship management program compares current data with data from previous consultations, such as blood pressure readings and cholesterol screening results. If the comparison generates an alert, you can proactively contact the patient to discuss it. At the same time, the system can generate automatic emailing of information to the patient to help educate him.

#5: Implement a Patient Portal

Cream of the crop is the digital patient portal, which enables you to store all information about your patients including test results. Patients get a secure login that lets them view their health records as well as make appointments online or communicate with you via a question facility or a discussion forum. You can set up automated emails based on criteria such as birthdays (personal info), allergies (seasonal) and medication refills needed.

Whatever method you choose to help you with your patient relationship management, keeping the information up to date is vital to enable it to be successful.

Greg FawcettAbout the Author: Greg Fawcett is President of leading North Carolina medical marketing firm Precision Marketing Partners. In this capacity Greg helps healthcare service entities to research their target markets, build their brands and develop creative strategies to reach patients.

Posted in: Amazing Customer Service, Day-to-Day Operations, Innovation, Leadership, Practice Marketing

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[Guest Post] – 7 Tactics to Improve Patient Retention in Your Medical Practice

Tactics For Retaining Patients in your Medical Practice MarketingAttracting new patients to your practice is one thing, but keeping them can be an entirely different issue. The days when you got to treat all members in a family from the cradle to the grave are long over, and regular attrition is an ongoing concern. You may not be able to avoid losing patients who move from their current location to another city or state, but you can try to avoid losing patients to other medical practices.

From primary care physicians through optometrists and gynecologists, patient retention is an important factor in the success of the practice. Here are 7 tactics you can use to keep your patients coming back for more.

Tactic #1: Think of Your Patients as Clients

Let’s face it, your patients need you probably more than you need them. Far too often, however, medical professionals treat patients as if they are doing them a favor by seeing and treating them. Even if it isn’t true about your practice, how certain are you that your patients feel as if you value them? By thinking of them as clients and fostering a customer service attitude among your practice staff, you can ensure that your patients feel important and cherished. The customer doesn’t always have to be right – he just always has to be king!

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Posted in: Amazing Customer Service, Day-to-Day Operations, Innovation, Leadership, Practice Marketing, Quality

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Explaining the State Health Insurance Exchanges in Seven Minutes: A Video for Your Medical Practice Website

Seven Minutes to Learn About State Insurance Exchanges

I came across this video from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and thought “This is exactly the kind of content medical practices can use for their website and social media content.” In this seven-minute video, the “YouToons” learn how the coming healthcare reform will affect them by placing consumers into one of four insurance categories: employer covered, government covered, privately insured, and privately uninsured.

The video is a straightforward, approachable overview of a complicated subject, and would make a fantastic post on the website of a physician or medical office. Even providers without a website could educate patients  by posting this link to Facebook or Twitter, or by including it in an email newsletter. My partner Abraham wrote a primer on talking to patients and staff about reform last July, but this video is even simpler, and is everyone’s favorite – an entertaining movie! It even has clickable icons inside the video for calculating premiums and finding out the status of state health insurance exchanges by state.

Why is a video like this a great piece of content to share with your patients and readers? Here are three reasons:

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Posted in: Amazing Customer Service, Headlines, Leadership, Medicare & Reimbursement, Practice Marketing, Social Media

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MOOC For Healthcare: What Can You Do (for Free) to Improve Your Management Skills?

Managers can Go Back to School with MOOCsOur clients and readers are constantly asking “What do I need to do to be ready for all of this change in healthcare?” There is so much to digest, plan for and keep track of that our industry is constantly seeking new skills to confront new challenges. Professional development is a critical part of career plans in most industries – but the speed at which healthcare administration is changing is pressing the issue even further. But when can already-swamped managers find the time (let alone the money!) to stay sharp and expand their skill sets?

In the past five years a solution has emerged from the Internet. The MOOC, or “Massive Open Online Course” is a model that has the potential to revolutionize how we educate people on a large scale – not to mention give busy managers a chance to get high-quality education at little or no cost on a flexible schedule. After several universities put free, open-coursework courses online to great success, several sites developed to expand the scale of the model. Now sites like Udacity, Coursera and edX offer free courses with video lectures, materials, and examinations to anyone who can access their site. The New York Times dubbed 2012 “The Year of the MOOC”, but it might be 2013.

If you are a manger looking to stay sharp, check out some of the Coursera offerings for summer and fall of 2013 below!

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Posted in: A Career in Practice Management, Headlines, Leadership

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Everyone Is Essential: Guest Author Bob Cooper

Obama Fist Bump with JanitorSome organizations will use the terms essential and non-essential workers as a way to distinguish between who needs to be on site in the event of an emergency, and who does not. I do understand the purpose of this distinction, however, it’s very important that businesses not give the impression that some employees are more important or valuable than others. (more…)

Posted in: A Career in Practice Management, Amazing Customer Service, Day-to-Day Operations, Human Resources, Leadership, Quality

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Cutting Waste is More Important Than Ever: An Interview with Lean Healthcare Expert Mark Graban

Lean Processes in HealthcareMany colleagues I speak with have a sense of or some experience with the tenets of “Lean.” But how does it really apply to healthcare – and is it really a way for medical practices to do more with less and maximize their resources? I recently spoke with Lean Healthcare Expert Mark Graban about where the rubber meets the road in healthcare.

Mary Pat: Most people have heard of Lean or have had some experience with it – can you explain what Lean is? (more…)

Posted in: General, Innovation, Leadership, Quality

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