- CATEGORIES: Doctors and Hospitals,Improve Your Practice,Ravi Raheja, MD,Technology,Technology for Providers
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Why YOUR Practice Needs To Make Plans
If you talk to co-workers, colleagues, and other business professionals, most everyone will agree that there is more to do than there are hours in a day. As a result, healthcare organizations and private practices alike have a difficult time staying on top of the myriad of tasks and projects required for a successful business. Countless professionals are so busy “putting out fires” and responding to everyday tasks, that they don’t have time to think through and plan how best to get work done. As a result, some work doesn’t get done, projects take longer than expected, and both time and money are wasted. In order to be successful, healthcare practices need to incorporate organized planning into their business activities so they can make appropriate adjustments and respond to the complex and ever-changing market, while staying on-track with business goals and objectives.
Turning Reactive Into Proactive
“Firefighting” in business is stressful, hectic, and inefficient. Unfortunately, most businesses operate in this mode a majority of the time. When you don’t plan ahead and are constantly reacting to issues as they happen, you are always behind. Reactive teams deliver lower quality work, miss out on strategic opportunities, and team members are likely to become frustrated and find a new employer. The financial results of working reactively can be very costly.
Conversely, proactive planning pays off at a rate known as the “1:10:100 rule.” This rule applies regardless of the industry, and shows that each dollar spent on planning and preparation saves $10 on project work, or $100 on fixing problems after the project is complete. Additionally, a well-planned project takes one-tenth the time of a project without planning, and every hour of planning saves 10 hours of project time, or 100 hours of stress later on. While you may think you are too busy and don’t have time to plan, the reality is you will have more time available if you plan properly. Furthermore, you will have an advantage over your competition if you proactively plan your work activities rather than reactively address issues when they arise.
Proactive in 5 Steps
Proactively planning business processes, projects, and special activities will help you reach your business goals. There are five main steps, each building on the others: Prepare, Do, Follow Through, Review, and Adjust.
- PREPARE: Your first step involves identifying what is happening with the specific area of concern. Perhaps you need a new system for collecting and keeping patient information because you need that data in four different databases. The very first thing you want to do is select a team to work on this project. Include employees who are directly involved and/or affected by the patient information process and outcomes. You need their expertise to properly identify the issue and create viable solutions. Once you have your team, discuss: “What is happening with our patient information?” “Who is responsible for collecting it?” “Who inputs it into each database?” “Where is the breakdown in data collection/input occurring?”, and “What can we do to make this process more efficient?” Identify what you and your team can do to address the issue. No answers are wrong, some are just more appropriate than others under the circumstances. Create clear and measurable goals and objectives for the project, and devise your implementation plan.
- DO: Once you have decided WHAT you are going to do, it’s time to take action. The best way to start this is to work backwards with a timeline. Identify the steps needed to complete the project, then determine WHEN you want the new process or project in place, and provide a time when each step needs to be complete – and by whom. (By “this date” the new patient data collection and input process will be implemented. List and prioritize each step needed to make this happen, and assign due dates for each task required.) As you are doing things, make sure you track your progress and take action when you go off track.
- FOLLOW THROUGH: As you work through the project, make sure everyone involved on the change Teamis doing their part, and those not directly involved have a means for giving feedback, updates, and additional suggestions. Have regular meetings to ensure everyone is on task, and address any changes that may be necessary.
- REVIEW: Regularly review the outcomes of the project with the Planning Team. Make sure the outcomes match the goals and objectives of the project. And, continue to look at the process to ensure it is the most efficient way of addressing the issues.
- ADJUST: Business plans need to be fluid – ready to adapt to new circumstances. Don’t be afraid to adjust plans as needed. Sometimes, things don’t work the way we expect them to. View each setback as an opportunity to better streamline your business and make it more successful. You may even need to start over and try a new plan.
Planning each aspect of your business process and projects will ultimately be more effective than if you are rushing to “put out the fire.”
Basic Benefits of Business Planning
- Staff will be happier and more effective
- Objectives will be clear
- Priorities will make more sense
- You’ll understand interdependencies
- Milestones will keep you on track
- Managing team members and tracking results will be easy
- You can better plan and manage cash flow
- You will no longer wait for things to happen. You plan, track, and make adjustments as needed so you can succeed.
Do you incorporate Project and/or Strategic Planning in your practice, or wait for issues to occur before addressing them?
Andrews, J. (2007). Strategic planning is an evolving process. Healthcare Finance News. Retrieved online December 4, 2013 from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/228220
Kemp, S. (2006) Project Management Made Easy. Entrepreneur Press. Retrieved online December 5, 2013 from: http://www.entrepreneur.com/downloads/assist/project_management_made_easy.pdf
Mind Tools. From Reactive to Proactive Management.Mind Tools. Retrieved online December 4, 2013 from www.mindtools.com/pages/article/reactive-proactive-management.htm