Is Your Group a Vendor or a Partner? – Podcast

If you want your group to have a future, stop being a vendor.

What Can The Owner of a Plumbing Company Teach Medical Group Leaders?

A few years ago I met a “plumber; ” he had taken over his father’s small company with a few trucks.  Over the course of less than a decade, he built it into a statewide service with hundreds of technicians and was expanding into the two neighboring states.

I asked him, we’ll call him Chris, how he found enough qualified plumbers to expand so rapidly?

He told me that he didn’t especially look for trained personnel – he hired employees for attitude and taught them to be plumbers.  He knew that his business was largely commoditized and found that the way out for his business was to provide a complete experience to his customers.  His edge – tidy, polite, clean plumbers.

Hiring for skill is not even half the battle for your group – the price of admission.  To set your group up to break free of the commodity trap, and to prevent your group from crumbling from within, hire for more than medical expertise.

Mark F. Weiss


Physician Success Requires More Than Focus on Patient Care

Beginning in 2012, Medicare’s Value Based Purchasing program will  provide financial incentives based on the performance of quality measures. Patient satisfaction surveys will yield significant weight in measuring performance.

Many physician groups will make the mistake of focusing even more intently on patient care and on patient satisfaction.

Taken alone, focusing on increasing both the level of care and, significantly, the level of patient satisfaction, are important goals.  But in a very real way, they are simply an intensification of the “in your practice,” as opposed to “on your practice” focus that is damaging to your group’s overall success.

I can hear the complaints, so let me be clear:  Focusing even more so on patient care, to the detriment of other areas of your practice that also require devotion of quality “care,” is too much of a good thing.  Red wine, in moderation, a glass or two, has health benefits; drinking a few bottles instead of eating dinner is not a good idea.

The naturalist John Muir said that when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.

The same is true in respect of your group’s success.  Just as it’s tied to patient care and patient satisfaction, it’s also tied to the organizational structure of your group, the agreements among the owner-physicians and between the group and non-owner physicians, and between the group and referring physicians, hospital administrator and others.

Mark F. Weiss


How Scenario Surveys Strengthen Medical Group Strategy – Podcast

Planning is less effective than strategy and strategy is most effective when strengthened through the Scenario Survey Process.

Why Do Medical Society Leaders Assume Failure?

When I read the practice management presentation topics of many organized medical societies, I’m stunned by the degree of victimhood and of loss of choice assumed.

Topics such as how to deal with engulfment by the ACO, negotiating with the management company selected by the hospital, and selling out to the hospital.

Why do the leaders of these organizations assume that an unwanted system can be imposed on their members?

Not every profession or specialty has a future.  Job openings for ice deliverymen plummeted with the invention of Freon and the popularity of home refrigerators.  It would have done little good for ice deliverymen to protest.

Is this what these medical group leaders are saying?  That there is no future for their members?

Or, is there a future, but the leaders aren’t leaders, they are collaborators?  Healthcare collaborators, that is.

Mark F. Weiss

The High Cost of So-Called National Anesthesia and Radiology Groups

A few days ago I heard another of what is becoming a familiar story.

A hospital had dumped its longstanding hospital-based contractor (this time an anesthesia group) in favor of a “national practice.”  The national practice presented well – lots of guys in nice suits and far better graphics on their presentation materials than the old group.  And the old group “cost” too much.

Of so the hospital thought.

But the suits were empty.  The national group wasn’t a group at all.  It was a staffing, or rather, a billing, service.  And it couldn’t or wouldn’t recruit to full strength.  The hospital’s business faltered, resulting in the loss of millions.

Flash forward to a few days ago.  Less than a year after it arrived, the national group has been given notice of termination.  The hospital’s CFO, who championed the cost savings, has been fired.

Mark F. Weiss

Ignoring the Perceived Bounds of Weakness – Podcast

If your medical group signals its weakness, it will become easy prey.

The Problem of Perception – Healthcare Collaboration

What an odd color Mercedes; pink, like cotton candy.

But what color is that pink?  The pink in your mind’s eye is different from that in mine, and from that of each other reader.

That’s because colors are perceptions made by each of us.


The three students filed into the room and took seats facing the large screen.  A block of  color was projected onto it.

“What color is the block?” asked a voice from the back of the room.

“Blue – Blue – Blue,” they replied.

“And this?”

“White – White – White.”

“And this block?”

“Green – Green – Wait, that block isn’t green, it’s pink!”

No, not a difference in perception, but a college psych study of compliance.  Will the test subject, the third student, parrot the obviously erroneous answer of the two confederates? Will he say that pink is green?


So what’s the right way of looking at ACOs, physician alignment, hospital-physician collaboration and other initiatives to bind physicians to hospitals?

Is it that I, like you, see the true color – control not alignment, top down authority not participation, lockstep factory medicine as opposed to individualized patient care, cookbook versus innovation?

Or is it simply a matter of seeing the same color in slightly different ways?

The test, I suppose, is to construct a collaborative deal in the manner of what’s commonly referred to as a Dutch auction:  One party names the price and the other chooses to be the buyer or the seller.  Or your brother splits the brownie and you choose the bigger “half.”

So, if collaboration really is the real thing, let the hospital design the deal, but the physicians control it.

The hospital’s CEO is turning pink!  What color, exactly?

Mark F. Weiss

From Me to We: From Physician to Provider

The tides come in and out, ties get wider then narrower then wider again, and society cycles round and round from “me” to “we.”

Today’s society is heavily affected by “we” think, from notions of shared sacrifice, to paying your fair share, to “giving back.”

Not every individual or entity in a society buys into the current stage of the cycle and that’s why trends eventually moderate and return toward the antipode.  However, there are some who, while holding a view closer to the other extreme, understand that they can benefit from co-opting the current zeitgeist.

Thus the move by hospitals to take advantage of “we” think.

As the current wave of collectivism shapes trends in healthcare, hospitals seek to ride that wave to further their own “me” interests:  Witness the completely hospital-centric notions of Accountable Care Organizations, healthcare collaboration, and integrated delivery systems.

Physicians are told that the future of healthcare is not in rugged individualism but, rather, in the “it takes a village” world.

But they are being told that by the hospital that wants to be the mayor of the village.

Mark F. Weiss

How to Secure Customer Satisfaction – Podcast

Stop kidding yourself that the delivery of expert, even world-class, medical care is sufficient to guarantee your group’s future.  Understand how to identify and incentivize high level customer service.