As a physician leader or medical practice manager, you always need to have your eye on the big picture. It’s up to you to be aware of potential opportunities and threats and to determine the direction that your specialty practice will take. However, this does not mean that you can afford to neglect the details. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference between a practice that is thriving and one that is not. Here are some reasons why you must pay attention to the little things:
1. It gives your patients and referral sources confidence in you.
When you demonstrate that you are on top of the details, it gives your patients and referring physicians’ confidence in your ability to practice good medicine and provide the best care for your patients. Often your patients’ and other physicians’ perceptions of your practice are actually a combination of several small details. For example, do you make it easy for other physicians to refer to your practice? Are you utilizing a physician liaison to go to their offices and let them know that helping their patients that need your care is important to you? Is it easy for a Referral Coordinator to call into your office and get an appointment for a patient scheduled quickly? Does your nurse thank them for their trust before getting off the phone call? Being on top of the details communicates excellence to those that may refer to you.
2. What’s little to you may not be little to your patients or referring providers.
Sometimes your perception of what constitutes a small detail is completely different from your patients’ or referral sources. What appears insignificant to you could be vitally important to them. For example, a thank you note to a physician that sends a patient can make all the difference and can mean many more patients coming your way in the future. While this extra touch may be (and very often is) easily forgotten by other physicians or practices, it goes a long way in letting others in the medical community know you are grateful and humble and easy to work with. Another example is the cleanliness and comfort of your office. Simple, but a tidy waiting room, clean patient rooms and spotless bathrooms are things well within your control that often times mean a lot to patients. Going the extra mile can mean big returns for you and your practice.
3. Sometimes small things add up to big things.
Big problems that can sink a practice often start out as small details. For example, if patients are not treated with kindness from the front desk staff or a referring provider gets put on hold by a rude phone operator from your office, they may decide that doing business with you or your practice is frustrating and move on to your competition. It won’t take many patients or referring providers leaving to impact your practices’ bottom line. Make sure that EVERYONE in your office is on the same page and committed to attention to detail.
If you don’t have time to pay attention to the details, hire someone who is; it could make a big difference. In the end, that’s what increases your future opportunities and referral sources and your bottom-line.
Here’s my challenge to you as a medical practice leader:
Examine the details of your practice and ask yourself how they reflect the message you want to send to your patients and potential and existing referral sources. What changes can you make that could create a Wow Factor? What do you want your patients and other physicians in the community to experience? If your patients or referring providers are writing or talking about you, what do you want them to say?
I’d highly recommend, then, that you attend to those details immediately and see how your practice begins to change.