Every business, at one time or another, encounters problems!
If you haven’t bumped into challenges with your practice yet, chances are you will in the future. It’s “not if, but when.”
And here’s what’s important…
How will you respond? What will you do? Will you run and hide, or face problems head on?
All Shapes & Sizes
Problems in business come in many forms. Some are small, others big. Some are within your influence; others exist outside it.
Today, I want to talk about two groups of problems businesses face, from time to time. They are internal and external problems. Let me share some examples of each.
Internal problems start… from within the business. The good news is they are under your control and respond to steps you take to make a change.
- Your new hire turns out to be a problem employee and doesn’t get along with anyone. What should you do?
- You’ve noticed your biller is not following up on claims; reimbursements have slowed down to a trickle. How should you handle it?
- Two patients create problems whenever they come in. They’re rude to your staff and don’t pay their bills. What will you do?
- You’ve signed a contract with a payer who is slow to reimburse, challenging to deal with, and on top of it has the lowest reimbursement rates. The result is extra work and hassles for your office. Is it worth continuing with this payer?
Problems external to your business may stem from conditions in the economy, your community, or changes in your industry. Unfortunately, external problems have the potential to impact your practice in a big way.
While there are many ways to deal with internal problems, there may be little, if anything you can do to affect external ones. Here you may need to rethink, pivot, or even reinvent how you do business.
Let me go through a few examples:
- There is a downturn in the economy and unemployment is on the rise. As a result, your practice has been slowing down. What can you do to attract more patients to your office?
- A couple of months ago, the biggest employer in your community closed down operations. The majority of your patients lost insurance coverage. Your practice has taken a significant hit. How can your practice recover?
- A new office, across the street from you offers extended hours. You’ve noticed a slight drop in appointments. What should you do?
- Some of the offices in your community offer telehealth now. Patients have asked when you will follow suit. Should you add telemedicine to your list of services?
These are just a few possible scenarios.
What Will You Do?
But no matter what the problem, the question is how you will respond to it? What will you do?
While disruptive and annoying, internal problems tend to be more clear-cut, as long as you deal with them head-on because most solutions are within your control.
- It’s your choice to fire the employee who continues to cause problems.
- Start looking for a new biller because the work is not getting done.
- Drop your contract with the hard-to-deal-with, low paying payer.
The sooner you take steps to address problems the better. Ignoring them, sticking your head in the sand, is not a solution. And it’s rare that problems resolve all by themselves.
But how will you respond to external problems?
First off, it’s essential to be on the alert. You want to spot changes in the economy or your local environment that have the potential to affect your business.
Again, the sooner you respond and address the issue, the better. You want to stay ahead of the curve!
While you can’t do anything about a downturn in the economy, or a big employer closing their doors, you can do things in anticipation. At minimum, you can think ahead and create your “Plan B.”
Once you know that many of your patients may lose their coverage, you could:
- Create cash-pay programs for your patients
- Offer a variety of payment options
- Offer additional services to your current list
- Increase your marketing efforts to attract new patients
When a slow down in the economy is impacting your practice, you could:
- Cut back on office hours to save on expenses
- Expand your office hours to make your office more competitive
- Increase your marketing efforts to attract new and keep current patients
- Take your practice in a new direction and add more services
- Get third-party input for ideas of what you could do to revive your business, despite the slow economy
- Join forces with another provider. It would save on overhead and perhaps make you more competitive.
- Of course, as an absolute last resort, you could consider selling or closing down.
The big take away is this!
Any business comes with its share of problems. Some are internal to the business, and some exist outside of it. And there are problems you can control, and those you cannot.
Position yourself so you can spot and recognize problems. Don’t wait to deal with them but face them head-on.
When problems get ignored, they tend to get bigger and create more headaches down the road. And some may even take on a life of their own.
We’d love to hear from you… Join the conversation by leaving a comment or question below!
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.”