Imagine for a moment, you're at the pinnacle of your healthcare practice—patients are thriving under your care, your schedule is seamlessly managed, and your workplace is somewhere you look forward to going each day. This isn't just some eutopian daydream or a reality that’s only reserved for those who have “paid their dues” by trudging through the land of mediocrity in a practice that is unfulfilling and financially unrewarding.
Think back to when you entered school to become a healthcare provider…
Now that you’re in practice – actually doing the thing; is it everything that you thought it would be?
Now let’s ask a different question – is it what you designed it to be? Or is your current practice a reflection of your choices (or lack thereof)?
The good news is that you have the ability to change your reality by mastering 4 key elements that affect every aspect of your professional life-the 4 W’s: What you work on, When you work on it, Where you work, and With Whom. Whether you’re a student starting to contemplate your next steps after graduation or a seasoned entrepreneur looking to breath new life into your practice, understanding and learning to optimize these elements is not just beneficial—it's essential for delivering patient-centered care effectively and finding fulfillment in your day-to-day role as a practice owner.
#1. What You Work On: Prioritize Patient-Centered Care
In an era where healthcare is rapidly evolving, sticking to outdated care models can leave you lagging. Innovative practices are integrating holistic and alternative therapies, recognizing their benefits in treating active individuals and athletes. Consider, for instance, incorporating biopsychosocial models that look beyond the physical symptoms and explore psychological and social factors affecting your patients' health. Identify the most effective and efficient assessments for identifying the underlying cause of your patients pain or dysfunction and then utilize the most impactful treatments in your “clinical toolbox” to provide the best outcomes quickly and efficiently. Identify courses and certifications that will allow you to provide the best care possible and continue to invest in your education as research evolves. Make sure to never lose sight of the unique needs of each patient so that you bring your best to each and every patient visit.
Action Item: Continually hone your skills and progress your education throughout your career. Don’t allow yourself to become lazy or complacent when it comes to your patient care. No one ever aspires to be mediocre~always strive to be the best at what you do.
#2. When you Work On It: Control your Schedule or It Will Control You
When you work on specific tasks can dramatically influence your practice's efficiency and effectiveness. Time blocking is a strategy that can help. Allocate specific hours of your day to patient care, administrative tasks, professional development, and personal time. This not only ensures a well-rounded approach to your professional life but also helps prevent burnout. The added benefit? If your practice is experiencing a slow time, time blocking will prevent your patients from noticing as they’ll always see other people coming and going when they’re scheduled.
Action Item: Many EHR systems allow for online scheduling where patients are given a block of time to choose their appointment. The same goes for your front office staff when scheduling return appointments for existing patients. Instead of asking “when would you like to come back in?” they can simply provide options for the time blocks you have available within the day or week you’d like to have the patient return. People make decisions easier when presented with 2-3 choices MAX and you’ll create more structure in your office–allowing for each member of your team to have dedicated time to non-patient facing tasks.
#3. Where you Work: Make your Environment Fit You…and your Ideal Patients
The environment where you work can significantly affect both patient experience and your well-being. An inviting, well-organized space can enhance patient comfort and trust, while ergonomic considerations can prevent practitioner fatigue. Don’t get too caught up in what you “think” people expect to see in your office, but allow your brand personality to shine through. If you have a sports-oriented practice, for example, you don’t necessarily need to have soothing gregorian chant music and water fall fixtures in your waiting room, for example. Make sure your practice creates an inviting environment that aligns with your brand but also is inviting for your ideal patient.
Action Item: Assess your workspace for comfort, privacy, and efficiency. Consider ergonomic equipment and soothing décor to enhance the environment for both you and your patients. If you have a pediatric-focused practice, for example, having a play area in your waiting area, children’s books in your exam rooms and a colorful mural on a wall create an environment where children will feel comfortable.
#4. With Whom: Building Your Dream Team
The final 'W' focuses on the collaboration within your practice-this can encompass everyone from the coaches and providers in your local community to your front office staff. Take the time to identify and recruit the best fit for every position in your business, making sure that each new employee shares in the overall mission and purpose behind the work you do and the care you provide. Create a company culture of open communication that invites all staff members to provide feedback and come to the table with new ideas so that they are continually seeking out ways to improve.
A collaborative, multidisciplinary team approach ensures comprehensive care, regardless of whether the team members are under your roof or trusted practitioners in your local area. Building a network of professionals who share your desire to provide the best in evidence-based, patient-centered care can significantly enhance patient outcomes. This synergy allows for comprehensive care plans that address all aspects of an individual’s recovery and long-term health.
Action Item: Network with other healthcare professionals in your local area. Communicate with primary care providers, coaches and other providers when needed (with the patient’s permission of course). Reach out and invite other providers to coffee or lunch to learn more about how they practice and ways you can collaborate with each other.
The Bottom Line
Mastering the 4 W's in your practice isn't just about operational efficiency; it's about creating a practice that thrives on excellence, compassion, and evidence-based patient care. Each 'W' contributes to a holistic approach that ensures you're not just meeting the physical needs of your patients but also creating an environment where both patients and practitioners can flourish.
Remember, the journey to mastering these elements is ongoing. By continually assessing and adjusting your priorities, time management strategies, workspace, and collaborations, you're not just managing a practice; you're leading a healthcare revolution.
- Prioritize treatments that deliver the most significant patient outcomes.
- Utilize time-blocking to enhance productivity and prevent burnout.
- Optimize your workspace to fit you and your ideal patients.
- Prioritize creating a company culture that prioritizes continual improvement.
- Develop a referral network of local providers who share your patient-centered values.
In the dynamic field of physical medicine, where evidence-based care is paramount, embracing these 4 W's can be your roadmap to a practice that's not only successful but also profoundly impactful.