As the owner of a physician practice, you work hard and sacrifice a great deal of time to make your business successful. As the practice grows, so does your workload. You start on the front lines driving clinical treatments and referrals. Then you move to the back office supervising daily, often obligatory, physician practice management tasks just to keep the practice afloat.
It is clear that you are needed to keep the business running. However, you want to make sure the practice continues to operate efficiently even if you aren’t around.
Physician practice management: Freeing up time for yourself
Here are four steps you can take to replace yourself in the day-to-day management of your physician practice in order to free up more time for yourself:
1. Delegate responsibilities
Responsibilities can really weigh you down as they become more detailed and more time-consuming. When responsibilities start to detract from the things you love, it’s probably time to consider delegating some of those responsibilities.
Being a successful leader means learning to prioritize your duties and assign those tasks to someone who you can trust to perform well. Be aware that finding the right individuals to delegate responsibilities to can be time-consuming. You need to be sure whoever is assuming those duties can perform at your own level of expertise.
If you have a management team in place, reach out to your best employees and teach them how to do the tasks that take up a lot of your time. Alternatively, or in addition to training staff, considering finding a partner who can complement your business. As you consider delegation, don’t forget the principles of division of work.
When too many people share responsibilities, it wastes time and resources. When the staff is stretched thin, tasks are not completed on time. By referring to an organization chart, each person in the practice can determine what his or her responsibilities are. And, because of this, the medical practice functions more efficiently.
2. Outsourced help
Some tasks may be better completed by outsourcing rather than hiring and training new employees. Back office assignments, such as billing and collections, can be sourced out if you aren’t in need of full-time help. It is more important to free up your time for other, more heavyweight projects.
For example, if your time is spent on resubmitting denied claims rather than long-term planning, you could miss out on taking your practice to the next level of its potential.
Keep in mind, however, that if you choose this route that it can get costly, especially if a lot of duties are being replaced by outsourcing. Additionally, quality is a concern to consider as well if you choose this route. Will the quality be to your standard and will your practice be a priority for the vendor like it is for you?
Perhaps you want to take a bigger step back than just simply passing off some tasks to someone else. You want to grow your practice, but you don’t want to do it alone.
You can see the bigger picture, and you know a partner is necessary. A physician partner can help you get to the next level by bringing a complementary skill set to the table. Having a physician partner will allow you to spend more time doing the things you love outside the practice and focus on the things you have a passion for within the practice.
A good physician partner will want to see the practice succeed because of the synergistic elements the two of you bring to the practice. Physician partnerships are often a great idea providing you give thought to how you will structure one and why you wish to create a partnership.
Sometimes physician partnerships aren’t so successful — so it is crucial to choose your partner well. If you do decide to add a physician partner, there are many things to consider, which I have addressed in previous articles.
4. Consider a gradual complete exit
Maybe your aim is to retire completely from your practice. Or maybe you love your practice, but you’re drained and need to get out or move on. Perhaps your priorities in life have shifted but you don’t have a way to step back.
This is the road to succession planning. A new owner could be your best bet. Whether that’s a physician partner or another acquiring entity, you can work to create a transitional period after the sale.
Your practice is a financial investment for some buyers, so if you can illustrate the value your employees bring to your business, you can advocate for their continued employment. After all, if you are going to leave your practice, you want to make sure you leave your employees in a good place.
When it’s time to replace yourself, it’s important that you provide a secure environment for those you leave behind. Additionally, a gradual transition out of your practice will give everyone who works with you a chance to get used to the changes, and it will retain their respect for you.
Succession planning is one of the most important decisions a physician owner will face —when and how to retire from practice. Yet many physicians neglect to plan their exit.
All too often, they think they can wait to sell the business when they’re ready to retire without realizing they need to have their practice well positioned and ready to hand off ahead of time. Preparation can be the difference between success and failure.
Related Content: Buying or Selling a Medical Practice? Read This First.
Planning ahead allows you to focus on the best fit for the practice, first and foremost. Once you find the best fit that will respect the legacy of the practice and your employees, then it is very likely you will also find the greatest value.
Remember too, that transparency is crucial both internally and externally. Proactive communication about leadership changes alleviates the normal fears associated with change and uncertainty. Plan for this. Poor management of this process shakes organizational credibility and effectiveness.
The bottom line is that transitioning from a practice takes time and preparation. There are a variety of issues that must be considered, which is why it requires education and adequate planning to ensure the handing over of your practice is seamlessly executed.
The bottom line
Physician practice management tasks can be overwhelming. But there are specific steps that you can take to free up more time for yourself.
More by the author: Physician Practice Valuation: What You Need to Know
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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.