We spend our entire lives making decisions by weighing the costs against a desired return. As small children, we learned the risk/benefit process quickly and soon enough, we faced the first instance of a parental scolding that began with the ominous phrase, “I hope it was worth it.”
Medical professionals become engaged in this process of weighing costs the minute they graduate from high school decisions about higher education, medical or dental school, a desired specialty, building a practice, etc. All these decisions require serious, and often gut-wrenching cost/benefit considerations. If this journey ultimately leads to private practice, there is a radical shift from career to business decisions…and uncharted territory.
At the risk of stating the obvious, if you are a doctor or other medical practitioner, your core competency is in your professional skills and knowledge. If you had significant business acumen most likely you would have chosen a different profession and paid a lot less for it. In establishing and running your practice you certainly have a comfort level with your cost/benefit decisions on equipment purchases and issues that pertain directly to your professional skill set. After all, you just want to get on with it, and take care of your patients. But you have a business, and businesses require operations, and operations require employees, and of course the whole engine requires patients, and those patients are sought out through marketing and retained through superior patient services. And all you really wanted to do was practice medicine!
Is it worth it?
Of course, it is if you are willing to make logical cost/benefit decisions on running your practice.
This is not a foreign concept. You have always made logical decisions based on information garnered from other’s expertise, whether it’s equipment or pharmaceuticals. They are all things you understand and feel comfortable with because they intersect with your core competency. Then things get messy. You accumulate employees who supposedly have duties that are supervised by someone that has a title of office manager. You can keep your arms around the universe in which you exercise your skills, but you are giving the steering wheel of your practice over to a group of people being paid $15 a hour. See a problem here?
As your flow of patients decreases, revenues slow, employee turnover increases, and the wheels start coming off your operations. It’s predictable, because it happens so often. At any point during this devolution did you ever seek out the necessary expertise for input on how to create and maintain a healthy practice? Did you abide by that information? Or did you blow it off because it didn’t seem worth it?
It’s always your decision. It’s a simple math problem. After all, you did the math on the cost on outfitting your practice and how many procedures you would need in order to cover those costs and create the revenue that is needed to make your practice successful. The operations of your practice require the same math. Your practice does not become successful through the sprinkling of wishful thinking, imaginary patients, and fairy dust. When you get a good dose of advice on how to fix your practice, keep it running smoothly, and increase your success then don’t run and stick your head in the sand. At least make an honest determination of what you want and stop pretending and wishing.
Maybe you can’t afford to fix the problems in your practice. That’s life. Close the doors and join another practice or do something else. That is not the choice that most medical professionals face. They need to determine if it is worth not correcting the deficiencies in their operations. These deficiencies do you not correct themselves. Quit kicking the can down the road by refusing to address those issues that are sinking your practice, inhibiting the maximizing of your revenue, and adversely affecting your patient care. Doing that is an indictment on your ability to do simple math and own a healthy and successful practice.
Quit fooling yourself. Have the courage to truly ask, “Is it worth it”, and proceed to act accordingly to the results of the math.
About the author
Lisa Marie Wark, CEO
Ms. Wark has established herself as one of the leading business and marketing consultants in the health/wellness and beauty industry. She has over 15 years of experience in business development, operations and marketing for various medical facilities, i.e., Century Wellness Clinic, an integrative medical and wellness facility, Growing Young, an age-management treatment center, Cancer Screening and Treatment of Nevada, a conventional cancer treatment center, and numerous cosmetic medical practices. Ms. Wark has an M.B.A. from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a bachelor’s in International Relations from Willamette University. She is a founding member of the International Medical Spa Association and a member of the International SPA Association.