As we have approached 2013, many of us have made New Year resolutions that we will most likely give up on before month’s end. While this can become an amusing habit in our personal life, giving up is certainly not the way to proceed when trying to properly manage and improve your radiology practice.
The fact of the matter is that there are changes in health care being implemented, such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, that can and will affect private practices. Now, let’s remain optimistic here and not give up so easily (like we have on going to the gym).
Be sure to take the initiative to continuously improve your radiology practice (even if you think you have everything going the right way), and focus on all the key contributors that help build the business: owners, qualified staff, patients, referring physicians, and even vendors. The strategies below can help improve operations for all aspects of the practice.
1. First and foremost – set goals (I suggest both short term and long-term goals), and make it part of the company norm. Most companies have mission statements that establish what the company continues to aim for each and every day. Don’t just merely mention your company vision on the first day of opening – reiterate it and keep it moving forward.
2. Though your imaging practice is not considered a Big Four firm (or a big anything), it is still wise to utilize big business practices. Think of the pillar model set up by the Studer Group® to help guide your business and align your goals. The pillars are: Service, People, Quality, Financial, and Growth. You can customize your own pillars, but the idea is to provide a balanced framework in respect to your goals. Be sure your pillars become part of the workday and clarify these pillars with the entire team, which brings us to the next point…
3. Communicate. Make a presence in your practice, be attentive of staff needs, and know what each member’s role in the organization is. Staff engagement is very important for the success of any organization. Be sure to take the time to thank employees for providing excellent care to patients and helping the practice meet its goals. Staff that feel good about themselves will be motivated to continue producing results. Moreover, not only is replacing and training staff an added expense (and burden), but it also disrupts the consistency and continuity of care.
4. “Time is money”. Timeliness is important for any operation that expects to be successful. The value of time is significant for both the doctors and the patients. In radiology practices, referring physicians expect a smooth process for patient scheduling and accurate results in a timely manner. In addition, patients themselves have their own time table, and expect to quickly get in and out of their appointments. Be sure you have an organized and functional process to help utilize time efficiently.
5. Develop a positive, compassionate experience for patients; they should feel like the most important person in your facility. That assurance displayed by the staff will help the patient feel more confident about their safety and quality of care. Though good customer service may be hard to find these days, make yours an environment that thrives on friendliness, and differentiate your operations from your competition.
6. “The customer is always right”… in your case, your patients are your customers. Be sure to keep track of their testimonials, suggestions and complaints. Patient input is considered “golden” for enhancing your practice, and should be taken seriously when implementing company policies and change.
7. Safety and cleanliness should be top priority throughout the facility for both patients and staff. Let me break these up:
i.) Safety measures. It is important to have a safety program in place that involves and educates all staff members, and becomes part of the work culture. This can help minimize potential accidents and life-threatening injuries to patients, technicians, and others in the vicinity. Proper patient engagement is also critical for safety. Be sure to take the time to listen to patient concerns, fears, and most importantly, their medical history, as this can certainly impact a scan.
ii.) Good hygiene. In addition to cleaning hands often in a hospital environment, it is just as important to ensure the equipment and facility are cleaned often as well. Implement procedures such as mandatory hand washing/sanitization, cleaning any items that come in contact with patients, inspect and replace pads when necessary, and always use extra caution if a patient has an open wound or infection.
If you have any questions about improving your radiology imaging business, or even tips you would like to share with me, I would love to hear from you!
President and CEO