“The three-point shot will ruin basketball,” was uttered by many basketball coaches and fans when the rule was first installed. In fact, the three-point shot has revolutionized basketball in a positive way. It’s made the game more exciting to watch, leveled the playing field for teams that don’t have a dominate inside man, and increased the revenue at programs that had been seeing a drop in attendance.
Unfortunately, the three-point shot was not enough to carry the University of Tennessee men’s basketball team to the final four, but that’s another story. The point is this: teams that embraced the change and found ways to change their game plan to benefit from the new point system prospered ahead of their peers who resisted the change.
So it is with your medical practice. You may not approve of the President’s medical reform initiative–many states have joined in a law suit to repeal sections of the announced plan. Changes will come to the plan as members of both political parties push to interpret the rules in a manner that supports their own views and agendas. Once the plan is in place, each provider will be challenged to determine how to change their own operations to optimize their practice.
Wishing that things were the way they used to be is counterproductive, unless you are determined to practice the way you always have until the money is gone. This is what I used to refer as the “Down Five” Plan–how to smoothly go out of business in five years or less. You can spend your time in a Quixote whirl, sparring with the new world in hopes that old behaviors will win out, or you can spend your time looking at your strengths and how best to deploy resources for the future so that your practice can actually thrive under healthcare reform.
Thrive you say? How can we possibly thrive when healthcare as we know it is being destroyed?
Look at the history of our country. Over and over again, the business landscape has gone through dramatic changes. The most dramatic growth in any industry comes after periods of unusual, even catastrophic, changes that are often viewed as extremely negative at the time. Only then, when the pain of change is at its maximum, are the resourceful minds of America able to focus on new and creative methods to grow and advance business practices.
First, you must recommit to the practice of medicine. What was it that you set out to achieve as a healthcare provider? If your goals were purely monetary, and I know there are some who did choose to practice medicine for the monetary rewards, you may need to reassess your financial goals. But for the majority who still enjoy providing the highest level of healthcare in the world, the future is still bright. The medical practice model you had in your head may need to change, regardless of your financial goals.
Again, the key is to make the decision that your practice is going to continue to be a success. That you will not give in to the defeat and failure broadcast by those predicting gloom and doom.
Secondly, you must commit to re-engineering your practice to survive and thrive. Again, determine where your practice excels–this may take an outside resource to give you an honest practice review.
You may need a totally new focus, but you must keep an open mind. Many practices have resisted change and fallen into the rut of “doing things the way we always have” because it’s comfortable
Nothing about the healthcare reform package has been described as comfortable. If you are going to be uncomfortable, then be uncomfortable in positive changes for your practice.
Remember, the world is divided into three types of people:
- People who make things happen;
- People who watch things happen:
- People who wonder what happened.
The bottom line: Embrace the three-point shot, learn the new rules, and determine how your practice team can optimize resources under healthcare reform.