Feb 16 2013

Is Obamacare Killing Healthcare?

Doctors know where they’ve been


but they don’t know


where they’re going!


Today’s medical professionals are strapped to a rudderless ship at sea that’s being sucked into a raging storm.

Some politicos would have us believe that the scandalous fifteen-thousand-page Obamacare program (and when, by the way, was the last time anyone you know read 15,000 pages of anything?!) need not be such a shocking insult to healthcare consumers because after all, it helps “less fortunate” people to get medical care.

Steamrollered through an inept Congress, Obamacare appears to have little if anything to do with the realities of healthcare. Instead, Obamacare hints at having everything to do with the crippling economic and personal freedom limitations brought on by the relentless White House pursuit of dictating increased government controls on American lives.

The end result? We will definitely end up with fewer competent physicians.

And those who remain will clearly not be providing adequate care –regardless of competency–  because of the restrictions Obamacare piles on top of the restrictions already imposed on them that limit their ability to deliver meaningful health services.

But computerization is what tightens the noose around healthcare necks, some say. Not so. The mismanagement and misappropriation of administrative computerization advances by interfering and uninformed government misfits and ignorant insurance providers is what is at the root of today’s healthcare delivery shortcomings.

The de-humanizing of humanizing services is the characterization that uninformed and manipulative individuals, agencies, and organizations have wrought as they’ve twisted administrative computerization advances into shortcut invasions of patient and physician privacy. Have we lost even having thoughts of human dignity?

When “DOCTOR’S ORDERS” becomes “DOCTORS ORDERS” (as in orders issued to doctors by the White House) to conduct patient gun ownership surveys to build a bigger “Big-Brother-Watching” database universe designed to gain yet more government control, do you think this might possibly get just a bit in the way of doctors performing healthcare services?

Of course EMR (electronic medical records) and EHR (electronic health records) have succeeded at putting patient care over paper care. But are these important advances enough to be really helping doctors to know where they’re going?

And the Internet has fully armed healthcare consumers to be better prepared to understand and manage their own healthcare issues, to be more informed about diagnostics and treatments, and to work more productively with their doctors. But are these advances enough to be able to really help doctors to know where they’re going?

The whole lean organization, lean management fad (where did Quality Circles go?) may be a solution, but is not THE solution. It is simply a band-aid acknowledgement that things have gotten so bad, we can no longer afford for the physician to spare a minute or two extra with each patient and patient family to help heal, and help ensure and reassure a sense of well-being.

More dollars are saved. Care is more efficient. But –at the ultimate point of care– doctors don’t get to spend more time with their patients, so is this increased efficiency really enough to help doctors know where they’re going?

Being preoccupied with efficiency necessitates lower levels of individual healthcare delivery. And last time I looked, healthcare was a profession dedicated to individual care. Perhaps it’s time to redefine the word “care”? The bottom line is that doctors are literally trapped.

Adherence to rules and regulations designed to increase control over their skills and abilities to earn livings commensurate with their training and societal value is squashing the very lifeblood out of healthcare. And Obamacare will surface as the culprit when it’s too late to matter — unless enough small business owners and practice administrators and doctors start to make waves

. . . NOW.

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Hal@Businessworks.US   302.933.0911

Open Minds Open Doors

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  God Bless You and Thank You for Your Visit!

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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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May 26 2009


The Business of Healthcare

Reality is that doctors are no longer” just” examiners, diagnosticians, and healers. In fact, the way things have been going, odds are that something about the healthcare profession will be vastly different by the time we wake up tomorrow morning.

And today, doctors are routinely expected to be insurance experts; banking, investment and financial wizards; administrative hot-shots; marketing, patient relations and community relations gurus; human resource management directors; professional buyers; government compliance champions; shrinks (even if they’re not psychiatrists or psychologists); oh, yes, and family icons.

Does this all add up to patients not getting as much quality care and attention? Of course. How can ANY human being whose existence is devoted to providing professional healthcare be expected to give patients full attention with so many other commitments and expectations tugging at her or his stethoscope? There is a way. Read on.

Thankfully, doctors share many of the same hallmark characteristics as entrepreneurs — from managing diverse cases, juggling breakneck schedules, being able and willing to work long hours and turn on the proverbial dime (if FDR ever knew!), to being self-empowering, quick decision makers with fairly strong delegation skills…and commanding (commandeering?) egos.

     Both–doctors and entrepreneurs–are motivated by the desire for personal achievement and financial gain, as well as a deep sense of things spiritual. Both take reasonable risks. Hence the name I created many years ago: “Doctorpreneurs.”

The differences of course are equally important. Human (and animal) healing, relief, care, wellness, and hope are certainly not software, electronics, transportation…or beer, hot dogs, tobacco, and french fries!

Two telling characteristics common to savvy doctors and true-blooded entrepreneurs is that both will only take reasonable risks, and both are smart enough to recognize that:

A) They don’t know and don’t want to know everything outside their realm of expertise, nor do they want to sacrifice the time it takes to learn because it detracts from their specialized skills and interests, and

B) They need to find and surround themselves with people who are experts in their own fields because in the long run it’s easier and less expensive to pay professional fees than to waste time and energy learning by trial and error.

     These are not traits of government or corporate leaders.

In the end, they are the traits that will hold our embattled healthcare programs and services together in much the same fashion that entrepreneurs (ala Jobs and Gates) will be the true agents of change as captains of small business that will turn the economy’s tide to productivity, prosperity, and growth.

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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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