Basic Managerial Skills

Family Physicians constitute the largest one-man industry across the country. From mega cities like Mumbai to simple village hamlets, the Family Physician is the first port of call for the lay person.

The Family Physician is working in a constantly changing environment. The medical world is changing. Patients & their demands are changing. The entry of major corporates into the healthcare area is also having a significant impact on the Industry.

Against this backdrop of change and volatility the Family Physician needs to stay on his toes to protect and build his practice. For better customer retention, customer bonding and to exceed customer expectations, inculcating excellent managerial skills is as important. Continuing Medical Education alone is not enough to sustain a practice.

The era where generations went to the same doctor is almost over. Our non clinical skills overshadow our clinical acumen as today's customer needs much more than a good diagnosis and appropriate treatment; they look for a comfort zone.

Every doctor has certain management responsibilities, including managing patients, resources, staff and his/her time.

Answer These Crucial Business Questions

  • Profitability: Does my practice generate sufficient income?
  • Staffing: Is my practice adequately staffed? it over or under staffed?
  • Billing and Collections: What are my annual losses on collections? How effective is my collection process? Do I end up losing patients because of my collection focus? Can my staff manage this adequately?
  • Service Access and Availability: How long do my patients wait for seeing me as compared to other doctors? Is my waiting area adequate? Does the patient feel at home in my clinic or do they feel unwelcome because of lack of infrastructure and poor staff handling?
  • Production Capacity: With my patient base and available office space are there some services that I can add for my practice to be even more financially successful?

It is time we medicos gave some thoughts to Customer Relationship Management, a concept that is gaining increasing importance in the service industry. With expanding technologies and the information superhighway, customer expectations are rapidly changing and our customer now expects us to know everything that comes on the web even before he reads it.

With increasing competition among GPs and specialty groups, each is eroding the others bastion. It is time that we Family Physicians, realize the value of long term relationships with individual patients and corporate clients including Insurance cos.

The emphasis should be two fold. First and foremost we must build the depth of the relationship with current patients and then build new patients.

Primarily enhancing the value of our existing faithful patients and developing a strong bond with them ensures sustained long term profits. We must therefore spend some time and thought on developing effective (for better relationship) and efficient (for our ease of working) processes in our day to day to practice.

It is now time to shift gears. We need to move away from our mundane routines of examine, prescribe, order for drugs, count cash & back home!
We need to put some pep into our practice.

In this era of intense competition and increasingly demanding patients, developing close co-operative relationships is of utmost importance. From the viewpoint of practicing Doctors one-to-one relationship with individual customers is very important. This becomes even more crucial when dealing with a corporate client. With a corporate client there may be many patients from the same source or company and you can be sure they exchange notes about the Doctor they visit. What's more, people from the corporate world very often have greater expectations than other patients.

The difference between a good doctor & a great doctor is knowledge & decision making. With more and more advancements in medical science and with more and more new information being added, we have to put great emphasis on Information System techniques helping our crusade of healing the mankind. If we have access to the information, this helps our ability to take the right decisions.
Modern medicine largely depends on decision making.

Three of most important aspects that need immediate attention are

  1. Communication skills - most families lament that doctors are insensitive when talking to them especially when breaking bad news. A large percentage of law suits can be traced to the treating physician not having communicated well to the family. Knowing what to say? When to say? Whom to talk? Whom not to talk etc are very important and should be consciously adapted. Proper bed side manners & mediquettes are as important.
  2. Time management - doctors have NO value of other people's time is a fact that can not be argued. Poor time management leads to a doctor not having enough time for family, friends and updating himself/ herself.
  3. Customer Satisfaction - With measurable performance parameters, it is time we appreciate what is expected from us and take special efforts to satisfy our customer.