Physician leaders must be innovators to navigate their practices into and through the era of healthcare reform. True physician entrepreneurs take charge of change and continuously scan the outside environment for new and fresh ideas. They search for opportunities for ways to do what has never been done before, and many times engage consultants to help them with strategic planning. There should be no argument on the value of planning. Strategic planning will keep your practice focused on objectives despite the problems and requirements of the present situation.
The history of modern healthcare will continue to be filled by practices that no longer exist because their leadership refused to adapt and change until it was too late. Consequently, you must always be actively looking and listening to what is going on around you for even the most remote signal that there is something new on the horizon because today’s innovations can come from just about anywhere.
Hungry for growth
What most growth-hungry physicians want is to get and stay on top. What they do not realize is that the journey they think they are on will not get them where they want to go. The time to worry the most is when there aren’t any problems. That’s usually the result of misinformation or wishful thinking on someone’s part. Good is rarely good enough, and opportunities for improvement are never lacking.
Physician entrepreneurs should expect and accept disruption and resistance to change, and never lose sight of the fact that costs are high when change efforts go wrong. Even the most groundbreaking practices can get stuck and fail to see the possibilities evolving because success is comfortable and often too connected to the past.
Physician entrepreneurs can be characterized by having an attitude of wanting to change the business-as-usual environment. They recognize that there is no single solution to any problem and accept that not everyone will see their vision. They keep focus and balance as they push to change, understanding that there is no “one size fits all” approach.
A state of change
To be a true innovating physician entrepreneur means you must be in a constant state of awareness. No one can survive without focusing in their own way on what matters and drives their medical practice. Therefore, you must relentlessly focus that ownership on what drives your practice, create a culture that reflects who you are, and stay grounded as you make things happen.
Too often, we focus on what matters to survive now because those are the highest-value targets. As you push to evolve your practice, remember that nothing is ever going to be perfect, so don’t be embarrassed about the mistakes you make or the actions you take. Losses may hurt but they won’t kill the practice. You can recover as long as you have a plan. Failing to stay connected and see things from all angles, though, is a clear sign that you are losing perspective.
Medical practices must constantly change in order to survive in today’s competitive healthcare arena. Practices should never settle for something that is considered completed; all things can improve with change.
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While success is important, it is equally important to recognize that in the healthcare industry, success will generally not come easily or quickly. Highly effective physician entrepreneurs emphasize that success in the healthcare arena requires the planning and conduct of operations based on two imperatives: adaptability and perseverance. In an era when the future of healthcare may not be predictable, physicians must avoid overreliance on pre-existing assumptions.
Strategy as a vision
Physician entrepreneurs resist the “success as usual” syndrome, exploring new models and technologies. Their perspective helps them promote unconventional ways of thinking, solving problems, and challenging the status quo. These types of individuals know the goal is not to chase a fixed horizon, but to understand when and how the horizon moves as they approach it.
A physician entrepreneur’s strategy is a vision for the practice, owned by the practice. And to succeed, the whole practice must engage with it and live and breathe it. That strategy should be the pillar against which the physician entrepreneur assesses priorities, actions, and performance. It’s from here that great leaps in growth and productivity can be achieved.
Nick Hernandez, MBA, FACHE
Nick Hernandez, MBA, FACHE is the CEO and founder of ABISA, a consultancy specializing in strategic healthcare initiatives.
Since founding ABISA in 2007, his emphasis has been on developing and maintaining a strong relationship with physicians and identifying areas for business opportunity and support. The company’s client list includes physician groups, hospital systems, healthcare IT organizations, venture capitalists, private equity firms, and hedge fund managers.
Nick is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a former Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. He holds MBA degrees in both Operations Management and Information Technology & E-Business Management from Wake Forest University. He is Board Certified in Healthcare Management and has been named a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
He is a frequent guest lecturer and is often quoted in the national media. He has consulted with clients in multiple countries and has over 20 years of leadership and operations experience. Nick is a Subject Matter Expert in business strategy, practice management, telemedicine, health IT, and oncology.