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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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Before Starting a New Medical Practice Ask Yourself These 10 Questions

Starting a New Medical Practice: Who's the Boss?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Can I go without any income from a new practice for 3-6 months?
  2. Do I have another income stream or can I continue to work part-time at the hospital or at an urgent care while I’m building my practice?
  3. Can I envision starting my practice by myself (no receptionist or medical assistant)?
  4. Do I have an existing patient base which will be interested in joining my practice?
  5. Is the community in which I want to work underserved or overserved in my specialty?
  6. Do I have a cash component to my practice that can help defray expenses while I’m building my practice?
  7. Will I be able to count on unpaid help from my spouse, family or friends to get things started?
  8. Will I be satisfied to start my practice by leasing space from another practice, or at a less-prestigious location that might not be my forever-location?
  9. Am I willing to shop for gently used and refurbished furniture and equipment for my medical practice?
  10. Will I be satisfied to use one of the free EHRs, even if it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles?
  11. Bonus Question: Do I have saved or can I borrow $20K to cover my expenses for the first 3-6 months?

Starting a new medical practice is not easy. No one should tell you that it is.

But, if you want to put in the work, make the decisions, and ultimately, practice the way you want to, then a solo practice may be a fit for you.

You may have to call your friends and family together to help you, you may have to work someplace else while you’re building your practice, but the good news is, you are the boss of you.

Posted in: Innovation, Quality, Starting a New Practice

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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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Are Patients Lost in Translation? An Interview With Dr. Charles Lee of Polyglot

Universal Medication Schedule (UMS)
Sometimes you find the most amazing things in your own backyard. In Research Triangle Park, NC, I found the wonderful Dr. Chuck Lee, President and Founder of Polyglot. I was bemoaning the lack of good translation software for healthcare and Sims Preston, CEO of Polyglot, contacted me on LinkedIn and invited me to see their product Meducation. I was fascinated by Dr. Lee’s story and I think you will be too.

Mary Pat: Dr. Lee, you had a very personal reason for starting a healthcare company that focuses on communication in different languages, didn’t you?

Dr. Lee: First, as a clinician, I’ve always believed that we need to help all our patients understand their health information so that they can make better health decisions.  To me, it’s just common sense that better health outcomes starts with better informed patients.  The challenge is that much health information is not usually written with the patient in mind.  It’s often written in high grade reading levels using medical jargon, and often only available in English.  If it is available in another language, it’s usually only in Spanish.

About one of every three US adults has some difficulty understanding health information and almost 30 million struggle with the English language – almost 10 percent.  Because I am a first generation Korean immigrant – I came to the US when I was 7 years old – I saw how my grandmother struggled to understand how to take her medications.  This is one of the reasons I became interested in this issue.

Mary Pat: How did your own experiences drive your vision for your company ‘Polyglot”?

Dr. Lee: It became very apparent that other HIT companies had little interest in serving the needs of minority populations – they said that there’s not much money in it.  They said it was too difficult, too costly, and that the market wasn’t big enough.  If you look just at the numbers, yes it may not make sense – but how do we continue to ignore almost 10 percent of the population – thirty percent if you count low health literacy! That’s when I decided to form Polyglot Systems to show that creating technology to support language and cultural needs of underserved populations doesn’t have to be hard or costly.  If our small company can do it, the big guys will have no excuse.

Mary Pat: Can you talk about the state of healthcare communication for non-English speakers in the United States today?

Dr. Lee: Just think about what it would be like for you if you were in another country and they didn’t speak English.  If you got sick and needed medical care, would you know how to read the signs? Know where to go? Know what forms you are signing? Know what the doctors were saying? What your treatment choices are? Or how to take your medicine if the bottle didn’t have English instructions?  That gives you a glimpse into what it’s like for non-English speakers in the US.

After I saw my grandmother’s pill bottles with instructions written in English that she couldn’t read, I became aware that this was not an isolated incident.  So I asked myself this: How many medication errors are caused by language barriers? Last year there were about 4 billion prescription written – that’s not including over-the-counter medications.  Just based on statistics, that would mean about 400 million prescription were given to patients who are limited English proficient.  The need was obvious.  If you include English-speaking patients who have difficulty understanding health information, this number approaches 1.5 billion prescriptions.  Have you seen some of instruction they give you at pharmacies? Even I can’t understand what much of it says.  Also, a lot of the instructions are printed in such small print that I had a hard time reading them.  So one of the features we built into Meducation was larger font support for elderly and visually impaired patients.

Mary Pat: It seems that the timing for Meducation is perfect based on the recent emphasis on patient engagement, eliminating waste in healthcare, and increasing medication compliance. How does Meducation address these?

Dr. Lee: For me, it all comes down to common sense.  We submitted our first grant proposal to the NIH for Meducation almost 10 years ago – when all those issues you mentioned should still have been issues back then, they just weren’t popular things to talk about then.

Healthcare statistics usually say that a minority of the population utilizes the majority of our healthcare resources. This includes those with heart disease, diabetes, CHF, etc.  Do we ignore them because they are the minority? Of course not.  I bet you that a significant portion of the patients with heart disease, diabetes, CHF have low health literacy and/or language barriers.  If we can make even a few percent improvements in these populations, wouldn’t it be worth doing? This just made sense to me.

I sometimes like to compare our healthcare system to the cable industry.  The cable companies spend tremendous amount on research and expense for laying fiber-optic cables in streets in front our homes.  But unless we can connect the home to the corner – what they call “the last mile” – it means nothing.  It’s the same in healthcare. Unless patients understand and act to self-manage their own condition, all our advances in healthcare will have little effect.  Patient engagement is the last mile.

Mary Pat: How does Meducation interface with EMRs?

Dr. Lee: This is our biggest challenge now.  We’ve developed APIs to make it easy for EMRs to request and download our multi-language patient information.  The difficulty has been getting many of the EMR vendor’s attention.  They are so preoccupied with Meaningful Use and certifications that they have paid little attention to patient education and engagement.  But I predict that this will start to turn around as reimbursements will force them to do so.

Mary Pat: Meducation also has videos with demonstrations on medication techniques. What types of videos are available and how can patients view them at home?

Dr. Lee: The videos focus on techniques for taking complex medicines such as inhalers, eye drops, etc., so the patients are actually benefiting from the medicine and not wasting it by using it incorrectly.  We want to expand these to include other techniques such as wound care, port care, etc. in the future.  The demos are free to patients if their healthcare provider or pharmacies use Meducation. Patients receive a card with the website and video ID so they can view it as often as they like at home.

Mary Pat: Meducation uses a universal graphic that shows patients when to take medication which seems like a great idea for communication despite the language the patient speaks – can you talk about this?

Universal Medication Schedule (UMS)

Dr. Lee: Yes, this is called the Universal Medication Schedule (UMS).  It was developed by a group of health literacy researchers at Northwestern University and Emory University.  It breaks up medication times into four times of day: morning, noon, evening, and bedtime. Over 90% of all daily meds can fit into this schedule and make taking medicines much easier to follow.  The Institute of Medicine (IOM), the American College of Physicians (ACP), and most recently the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) have recommended its use.  I really like it because it helps patients remember with pictures if they have difficulty understanding written instructions.

Mary Pat: You use the word “affordable” as part of your mission for Polyglot. I am always seeking solutions that are affordable in healthcare. Can you talk about the cost of Meducation for a solo primary care physician?

Dr. Lee: You know, I wish I could give this away for free to everyone.  But we have to make this a sustainable effort.  I’ve seen so many good projects die because they didn’t have a plan to keep it funded and going beyond the grant or some other funding source.  This is one of the reasons I left academics to start our Polyglot.  That being said, our products need to be affordable for front line providers – safety nets and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) – because they interact most often with underserved patients – and have the least financial resources.

For provider practices, the subscription list price is $50/mo for unlimited use.  That’s less than $2 day for the ability to print instructions for all your patients in 16 languages – including elderly English-speaking patients in larger fonts.  As a comparison, $2 is about what it cost to use a telephone interpreter for about 1 minute.  Mary Pat, we would be happy to provide your readers a discount on Meducation.  Just have them contact me at lee@pgsi.com.

Mary Pat: What other projects do you have planned for the future?

Dr. Lee: I think the opportunities to improve communication for patients are only limited by our imagination.  There is so much that we can do create quality literacy and language solutions and deliver it inexpensively to a wide audience.  We are currently working on a solution to reduce hospital readmission through simplified multi-language discharge instructions that can be individualized for each patient.  We are adapting this for use during home care visits as well.

Charles Lee, MD, President and Founder of Polyglot
Dr. Lee: Polyglot Systems was founded in 2001 to help our US medical community care for the 26 million Americans who are unable to communicate effectively in English. Our mission is to deliver solutions that eliminate communication barriers at every stage of the medical encounter – improving the experience of both the patient and health care provider.

For more information about Meducation, Dr. Lee invites you to visit the Polyglot websiteHe is extending a discount on Meducation to readers of this article – please contact him at lee@pgsi.com.

For another post on communicating with patients, read my post “Can Patient Safety Be Improved By Asking Three Questions?” here.

Posted in: Amazing Customer Service, Compliance, Day-to-Day Operations, Electronic Medical Records, Innovation, Quality

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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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Master the Vacation Balancing Act

This article was originally published on LinkedIn as a part of their Influencer series.

Vacation Balancing ActSummer is traditionally the slow time of the year for healthcare. Summer in medical settings means vacations and staff coverage, new physicians fresh from residency, and more chances for the local kids to get creatively injured with school out. Even though summer might not have the intense volume of cold and flu season, or the intense number-crunching of the end of/beginning of the year, as a manager there’s always something demanding your attention. So when you need a vacation, you Need A Vacation. How do you achieve the balance of taking time off with being able to step in and manage if the need arises?

Access is the name of the game in achieving balance. I want to be able to go away knowing that I can easily get to things I need without a lot of fuss. That’s why I am such a fan of mobile technology that lets me stay informed or in touch when I’m away – whether at a conference, on vacation, or fitting in family or personal time.

The key to access is using your phone or tablet to enhance and protect your out-of-the-office time, not invade it. Access equals peace of mind and allows the total unwinding that is so critical to rebuilding your energy for the next round. While I’m taking time off this summer, these are the apps I’m using to stay in touch and give me the confidence to let go!

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Posted in: A Career in Practice Management, Day-to-Day Operations, Quality

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Start PQRS Now! It’s Not As Hard As You Think

Getting Started with PQRSNOTE: CMS has just added additional presentations of the webinar below – please check the end of the article for added dates. MPW

What is PQRS?

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Posted in: Collections, Billing & Coding, Compliance, Day-to-Day Operations, Electronic Medical Records, Finance, Headlines, Medicare & Reimbursement, Quality

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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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Can Patient Safety Be Improved By Asking Three Questions?

This is Patient Safety Week. Patient safety may bring to mind infections acquired in hospitals, but we know strides are being made to make hospitals, health centers and other patient care facilities much safer for patients.

But what are medical practices doing?

Ask Your Doctor Questions to Improve Patient Safety in the Clinic

According a recent article in JAMA, primary care practices need to work harder at patient safety, but for reasons that might surprise you. The article cites communication and process issues as key to creating potentially unsafe situations for patients.

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Posted in: Headlines, Innovation, Quality, Social Media

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