Jun 28 2011

You’re not God anymore!

Sorry, Docs and Esqs,


 but you’re not God





Well, one good thing about the current Administration (and it may be the only good thing) is that it has snapped Americans back to reality — the reality that no matter how great you can talk, action speaks louder. And taking no action speaks loudest of all. Like a whirling dervish, this tax-and-spend do-nothing White House spins in place.

So that’s the good news: we’re all learning from our mistakes. Watch the blur!


Now on to doctors and lawyers: You guys are being shopped around for on the Internet, and you haven’t yet caught on to the reality that this single shift in patient and client technology is driving your practice into the ground because you’ve chosen to ignore and discount its impact on you. But you can’t. You need to take action now

Reality is that your services are no better a commodity than peanut butter, plumbers, snowplowing services, or used furniture once a prospective patient or client gets her or his pudgy little fingers into the Bing or Google search window.

The days when you needed not to worry about your staff customer service skills are long gone.


Heart patients in Pennsylvania fly to Arizona or Minnesota for surgery. People with vision problems in Florida will travel to Baltimore. Just because a local physician or lawyer diagnoses a problem seldom means anymore that the patient or client will stay with that professional. Many, if not most, seek specialized care referrals online.

A good part of the reason for this, and one that’s continually dismissed, has a whole lot more to do with office staff treatment and “bedside manners” of the doctor or lawyer than most professionals would care to admit. Truth is it’s likely to be costing you 50% or more of your practice volume. And it’s close to 100% avoidable!

Incredibly, to most of America’s population raised on ER and Law & Order, there are studies floating around that show over 90% of all doctor and hospital visits (including those to the ER!) are for reassurance

— being told with a warm smile and backpat, “You’re going to be alright. Take two aspirin and call me in the morning” seems to sum up what most people consciously or unconsciously seek.

And I strongly suspect the same dynamics of pursuing empathy come into play with lawyers.


Lawyers thrive on delay. Doctors thrive on patient loyalty. Neither of these payoffs are very much in the cards (or the stars, tea leaves?) anymore because people want gratification as immediate as a txtmsg response, and loyalty is directly proportionate to truth (readily verifiable on the Internet), and personal attention with every contact.

So, solutions? Here are 3 FREE solutions: More frequent and more genuine use of smiles, and of “Please” and “Thank you.” Don’t assume your patients and clients are being treated the way you want them to be. I can tell you of over 100 medical and law offices where they are not. Find out. Use friends as “secret shoppers” to report experiences.

Reward positive attitudes. Small, inexpensive, frequent rewards actually work better than lump sum cash or raises (which, remember, are permanent). Consider outside professional coaching help.


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Hal@Businessworks.US or 302.933.0116

 Open minds open doors.

Thanks for visiting. God Bless You.

Make today a GREAT day for someone! 

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Jun 09 2011

It’s Patient Loyalty, Doc!

Businesses have customers.


Shrinks, lawyers and CPAs have clients,


But you, Doc,


have patients!



If you have a doctor-friend in your life, you might want to share this post. Useful, straightforward “business” posts for healthcare professionals are not typically or readily available. You may also want to consider how these same dynamics apply to you in your business or non-medical practice.



So what, you say?  Here’s what: Given that healthcare has now become even less predictable (than the plights of business, shrinks, accountants, and lawyers) as we edge ever closer to that Obamacare precipice, you may already be starting to lose patients as you lose patience.

I mean, businesses, CPAs, and lawyers already see the staggering new costs handwritten on the walls. And shrinks? Eh, who ever knows about shrinks?  Anyway, it’s all about you, Doctor. You are being called on as never before to rise to the occasion and bite the business bullet. You must grow your practice in stagnant times

This means riding out the economic storms and going with the insurance provider flow even when all you want to do is practice medicine and be fairly paid for your expertise, training, experience, and compassion. Ah, but there stands Obamacare in your path! And you can’t get over, under, or around it. 

So, you’ve got to get through it!   

The only way to “get through” it –to survive and thrive in the next few months and years ahead– is to build and strengthen patient loyalty.

Patient loyalty is the single most critical component of practice growth, especially in hard times. It triggers increased  patient volume and stimulates referrals faster and more cohesively than any other factor.


Here are the five key sets of values that determine success in acquiring and strengthening patient loyalty:

  1. Your professional skills, resource network, and “Google-ability”

  2. Your training, experience, and regional word-of-mouth reputation

  3. Your patient-centric care approach and reassuring “bedside manner”

  4. Your office staff’s abilities to communicate clearly and pleasantly, and to handle insurance reimbursement tangles quickly and simply

  5. Your effectiveness in managing patient support, diagnostics, and referrals

Notice that the first four value sets above are ones that you should control and/or that should rely almost entirely on you. The fifth one, however, depends on others. This distills down to the reality that you must first attack the first four and fully capture or re-capture them into your control before moving into value set five territory.

Why? So you can strengthen the area that’s not in your control by coming at it from a position of strength in the four areas you are able to harness.

Take a hard look at the ten qualifiers suggested in the first four numbered value sets above. Can you rate yourself a “9” or “10” in each? In which areas are you weakest? What do you need to do –specifically– to get to those ratings in each suggested category? Can you identify three steps you can take next week to lead yourself there?

When you can honestly give yourself those 9-10 ratings, move on to #5 above and ask yourself what specific actions you can take now to improve the ways you manage patient support, diagnostics and referrals. Are you, for example, using resources that keep you in case management control over each of your patients?

The farther away from Med School and Internship and Residency you are, the more vulnerable you may be to economic invasion, and the more important it becomes to self-assess on a regular basis. Quarterly works. It might be the most rewarding investment you can make in your practice . . . or the most costly one to avoid.

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“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson]

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals. God Bless You.

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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Jun 01 2009


Hey Boss, what’s


your T-shirt say?


     One of the most useful exercises you can do as a business owner or manager is to take a shot at branding yourself and your business… regardless of whether your business is already in the middle of a branding campaign or not.

     This exercise is just between you and yourself! And don’t offer any feeble not-enough-time-type excuses because this whole adventure shouldn’t take you more than 3-4 minutes!

     Put two pieces of paper in front of you. Label one “Me” and the other “Biz.” Put “Biz” aside for a minute. On the “Me” page draw the simple outline of a blank t-shirt… no knit collars or sleeves, no tag sticking out, no concern for size or crooked lines; remember, it’s just for you, and you can toss it when you’re done.

     Now close your eyes and take two deep breaths (go ahead; I’ll wait!). Good.

     Next, put some representation of whatever you think would be the most appropriate visual message [word(s) and/or picture(s)] on that t-shirt to represent you, your thinking, your personality, your approach to things, your attitude, your values, your goals/ambitions— whatever strikes you as something that accurately represents what you’re all about.

     Perhaps it’s something you might want a stranger to know about you, or even something that might surprise those who do know you?

     Good. Fold the paper and stick it in your pocket.

     Now, close your eyes again and take two more deep breaths. Okay, now pick up the “Biz” page and draw another t-shirt (same as the first one), but —on this one—record what it is that you most want others (customers/patients/clients/employees/vendors/referrers) to see in your business.

     In other words, when others hear or read or think about the name of your company or practice, what do you want come to the front of their minds? What quality or uniqueness or value or key characteristic? Write/draw it on this second (“Biz”) t-shirt. 

     Finally take the first one out of your pocket and unfold it. Put the two side by side and make a note on the “Me” page about what the two messages have in common. On the “Biz” page jot down what the difference(s) is/are.

     Ideally, there’s a synergy between the two. Whatever differences there are should be healthy ones. If you think you could never wear both shirts, you might want to start career-hunting again. If the messages run parallel but you think they need to be more closely aligned, what can you do starting at 9am tomorrow morning to get that to happen?

     If the messages are identical, you may want to think about stepping up your personal life a bit. Eating, sleeping and breathing your business is admirable, but quickly becomes an unhealthy state of existence that magnetizes stress, illness, and family disruptions. 

     If I see you this summer without a t-shirt, I’ll know you’ve been busy working on your message, your business, and your life… or are about to be arrested! All four situations need your undivided attention! 

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Input welcome anytime: Hal@TheWriterWorks.com (”Businessworks” in the subject line) or comment below. Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals, good night and God bless you! halalpiar  # # # 

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