Every organization, from small businesses to large corporations, has a culture. The culture refers to the values and attitudes of employees in the business or organization. A healthy company culture values each employee regardless of his job duties, which results in employees working as a team to meet the company’s and their own personal needs. A healthy culture improves the performance of a business in a number of areas is also responsible for attracting and attaining great talent, as well as creating a fun, happy and exciting work environment.

Your practice culture defines the way in which your team interacts with one another, with your patients and with your referrers. Your practice culture guides your team, as well as inspires and motivates employees.  A great practice culture attracts patients and referrals, which, in turn, creates practice success. Patients and physician referrers will choose your practice over others because your employees believe in your mission and love their jobs. Understanding this principal will quickly allow you to see the importance of practice culture.

Practices thrive by working together, recognizing each staff member’s needs and issues, and dealing creatively with daily challenges in a positive, effective manner. Each practice has its own unique culture, but productivity, practice morale, patient care and referrals from other medical practices can be improved for all practices by making company culture development a priority.  Here are some ideas:

1. Create an attitude where everyone in the practice participates in improving your culture. Encourage staff members to bring good ideas out in the open. This can create the ultimate outcome of improved care for each patient served in your office!

2. Openly talk about how things are done. Find out which staff member has knowledge in areas that need to be fixed — let him take the lead in changing “how we’ve always done it.”

3. Do a daily or weekly huddle, again using open communication, but use this time to review what happened yesterday and what may be the bottlenecks for the day ahead.

4. Share positive stories and successful patient outcomes with staff members.

5. Recognize each other with a friendly greeting in the morning, thank each other for a job well done, and find ways to reinforce the behavior that you want and expect.

6. Consider professional development opportunities for your employees. There are many interesting professional development initiatives you can explore to allow employees to learn and develop on the job.

7. Think about philanthropic opportunities for your practice. It doesn’t need to be drastic. There are plenty of smaller things you can do as a practice to give back to and get involved in your community. Volunteer together a few times a year or allocate a designated amount of time (maybe just an hour a month) for off-site volunteer activities.

In closing, ask yourself — What’s your practice culture like? How can you make it better? How can you make your practice a ‘best’ place to work? How can your employees make the referral process more pleasant for other medical practices?

Your practice culture should be designed for and built by you and your employees. These priorities give you a place to start, but the strongest practice cultures develop from input and feedback from employees.

Don’t forget, change starts at the top. Physician owners and leaders, as well as practice managers, must see the need for and be open to creative change; recognizing that every staff member can have a lot to offer. Getting everyone involved is a great first step. Communicate your support for creating a new attitude and don’t give up! Ultimately it will improve the care your practice provides to each and every patient and increase referrals from other physicians in your community!