Owners of independent pediatric practices are usually both healthcare professionals and small business owners. Like any business, growth is necessary to accomplish your short and long term goals, like serving more patients, adding locations, or accomplishing excellent vaccination rates. An excellent and underutilized way to grow? Getting out of the office. Here are some ways getting out of your practice and your comfort zone can help your practice and community grow.
Learn Something New, Online or Off
PCC’s Director of Pediatric Solutions Chip Hart is familiar to many pediatricians as a business and data consultant and from his blog, Confessions of a Pediatric Practice Management Consultant. One of Chip’s most often recommended strategies for pediatricians looking to grow their business is to get into other practices and spaces to discover how others in the industry are accomplishing the same work. By getting out of the office, there are nearly endless opportunities to learn something new.
These days, getting “out” of the office is both easier… and more difficult than ever. In his original seminar, Chip recommended that pediatricians visit their neighboring practices or ask around for introductions to see how others in your geographic area handle everything from patient intake to the patient portal. He encourages pediatricians to attend courses, join Facebook groups, and attend conferences to grow their business, refresh their knowledge, and update their brand's look and feel.
These are still excellent opportunities, but since nearly every pediatrician is busy nearly all of the time, scheduling the time to get out of town can still be difficult. That’s where the internet can help you get “out” of the office and back in time for your next patient in 15 minutes. Try online courses or seminars for education credits or further learning. Engage with colleagues on a Zoom call with a coffee and a list of questions. You can even attend conferences while completely remote! While there is a lot to be said for getting out of your physical space to refresh your brain and knowledge, sometimes that’s not always possible. What is always possible is the opportunity to learn something new, wherever you are.
Being a Small Business Copycat
They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. While you know better than to go around plagiarizing others’ work or intellectual property, pediatric practices can and do learn a lot from their peers and from other small businesses, which often have similar goals. Here are some ideas:
- Ask friends and family about their child’s patient portal. What do they like/hate about it?
- Your mother’s yoga instructor managed to get her on to Tiktok! How could you apply the same lesson to encourage families to log on to the patient newsletter, portal, or subscribe to your social media channels?
- Your friendly neighborhood competition – another pediatric practice – has invited you to help staff their drive-thru flu clinic. How do they handle vaccine information sheets, safety, traffic, and vaccine inventory? Will they help at your flu clinic?
- You catch a course at the AAP’s National Conference & Exhibition where a doctor describes her success with concierge billing. Could switching up billing practices benefit your patients? Your partners? Could you get the speaker's email?
The great thing about being a small business copycat is that while you often learn the most from peers in your field, there are plenty of small businesses around you that you can learn from too. Will all of the things you copy work right away? Of course not – but they can be adjusted to your patients’ and staff needs.
Are you a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on Administration and Practice Management (SOAPM)? If not, consider joining for not only the benefits listed on the tin – advice and feedback from other pediatricians across the U.S. – but also for the opportunity to share your own knowledge.
While growing your business is often about listening and learning from others, giving advice and help to others who are struggling with the same problems that you have is a core part of growth. Will answering a phone call from a clinician you’re mentoring at 11pm help your bottom line? Perhaps not. But that clinician will never forget your help, and fostering positive relationships is how you and your practice practice become industry leaders.
Supporting one another is a natural way to become better community leaders, professionals, and business owners. It also doesn’t hurt that offering useful advice is a core aspect of many marketing strategies, which can help grow your practice’s reputation. Try thinking about the unique experiences you have that you could share with others – could you present a course? Co-host a webinar? Guest post on a publication such as Contemporary Pediatrics or your local paper?
Leave Your Safety Net Behind
We all have different strengths. Leveraging others’ strengths is one way to build an excellent medical home team. Another great way is to challenge your comfort zone and leave your “safety net” behind. Chip’s recommendation? Whether you get out of the office to learn something new or share your knowledge with others, return to the office with new perspectives.
“The first thing I want you to do is get out of your office. This is the only way you're going to learn what is happening outside in the world, what other people are up to, and how they're solving those problems. But when you go on vacation, I want you to walk back into your practice with a fresh set of eyes. What do your patients see?” Chip Hart, PCC’s Director of Pediatric Solutions
You’ve gotten out of your practice doors… so now what? The first step is to keep an open mind – inspiration could strike anywhere. At events, practice networking and get others’ perspectives on your practice’s current problems or goals. If you’re shopping for a new vendor or business partner, come prepared with questions or bring the person at your office who is always the squeaky wheel for change.
With a whole world of learning at your feet, sort through the chaos by selecting the priorities that matter to you and your patients. You can also divide and conquer goals by getting your colleagues on board – while you visit your state’s AAP Chapter meetings, your colleague could attend the national conference and compare notes with you.
Ready to get out of the office and build a better business? For more advice on avoiding the mistake of getting siloed, be sure to check out Chip’s webinar – and keep an eye out for opportunities at your practice, inside and out. Don’t forget, PCC is happy to connect with you! You can find us at the annual AAP National Conference & Exhibition, the Pediatric Management Institute’s conference, and many more events!