Mark Weiss’ Three Most Important Tips for Thriving in a Down Economy

You’ve asked for it:  The three most important things I recommend you do for your medical group to thrive in a down economy.  Here they are.

1.  Control what you can control.

2.  Of what you can’t control, influence all you can influence.

3.  As to everything else, don’t worry about it.

Recently, a radiologist earning in the range of a mid-level hospital administrator criticized my advice as being “common sense.”   But he is living proof that, to quote Voltaire, common sense is not so common.

Thriving is that much easier when your competition is clueless.

Maybe They’ll Bail GM Out, But Will They Bail You Out?

GM ran its business into the ground by becoming focused on everything other than building cars that their customers wanted.  They didn’t even understand who their customers were (in the car business, manufacturers hold to the belief that the dealers are their customers).   But when people stop buying cars, the dealers stop buying cars and the whole system slows or shuts down.

Instead of focusing on cars, GM became a large social welfare company devoted to providing benefits to their workers, both active and retired.

Sound familiar?

In the healthcare industry there is a similar argument about who the customer is:  The patient?  The hospital?  The referring physician?  The payor? 

And in the healthcare industry, there is a push, both by private payors and the government, to balance the financial equation on the heads of physicians:  Reimbursement is cut, regulation (and the cost of compliance) is increased, yet physicians are still expected to provide the social service. 

So, will there be a physician bail out any time soon?  Don’t hold your breath.

You Can’t Solve Problems Working on the Fly

It’s 2:30 p.m. and you’re in the O.R. in the middle of a case.  Your phone rings and it’s the [hospital administrator/your CPA/your biller] asking you to make a decision that will impact your practice and perhaps even your bottom line.

Stop.

Don’t make it.  Even if you must give a response (which, I guarantee you is extremely rare), it should be a qualified one, such as,  “My initial thought is [xyz], but I need to consider my position carefully and get back to you.” 

You need to take the time to work on your business, not just in it.

Physician (non)Retirement – Impact on Your Practice

It’s widely expected that the decline in the stock market and the recession in general will force large numbers of physicians to work beyond their projected retirement dates. 

How will that affect your practice?

Some immediate thoughts for you to consider:  More competition for patients?  For your exclusive contract?  A “solution” for the shortage of practitioners?  Even lower reimbursement?

Luck

I’m fascinated by the role that luck plays in success.  For a good background on this topic, read Nessim Nicholas Taleb’s Black Swan, or even better, his Fooled by Randomness.

But I’m even more interested in those who simply rely on luck for their success:  That’s just plain stupid.

Yet it’s what most hospital-based groups do.  They think that just because they have been practicing at their faciliity for x number of years, that years x + 1 though infinity are in the bag.

There’s lots that you can do to load the dice if you take the time, and make the effort, to strategize and implement your own future.

Sure, Woody Allen quipped that 80% of success is showing up.  Even if that’s so, that other 20% is up to you.  And that other 20% requires thorough preparation and positioning.

Tough Times = Great Opportunity

Let others bemoan the bad economy.  Use your time to take advantage of the opportunities.

Physician groups that were focused only on the easy business or which avoided making the necessary investment in strategies to provide significant supplemental income, are those most likely, even destined, to fail.

The key is not to devote efforts to complaining (it will do you no good, only harm) or to take actions to merely “survive” (the wrong focus entirely) such as cost cutting without regard to the impact on return on investment.

Instead, the key is to develop and implement strategies to thrive, to fill the vacuum that the others’ failure and their blindness to opportunity will leave for you.  This is the time to develop stronger relationships with your fellow shareholders/partners, to make certain that key employees/subcontractors remain bound to the group, to revisit the economic relationships with your hospitals and payors, and to pursue new income streams that exist but have either been unimagined or left undeveloped.

Prudent investment in “thrival” trumps both failure and mere survival.

Free Teleseminar

Join me on November 20, 2008, at 4:00 p.m. PDT for a free telephone seminar on the Strategic Group ProcessTM.

Learn what the Process is and how it can benefit your hospital-based group.

Send an email to freetelseminar@advisorylawgroup.com to confirm your participation.