You can spot a potential blood clot a mile away, diagnose a rare condition by skimming lab work results, and handle the pressure of a busy ICU room during a full moon. But dealing with coding, taxes, and other business-related parts of the healthcare business causes you to break out in a nervous sweat!
Sound familiar? While these examples may be a little extreme, they’re not too far off the mark for millions of physicians each year. Your medical school education touched on running the business side of things. Yet, for the most part, doctors are more focused on treating patients than juggling their finances, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Still, you should never put blind faith in anyone when it comes to your money, license, and reputation. There are some business skills you must have, regardless of whether you’re an employee, employer, or independent contractor. Here are some of the top business tips you should know when you’re in the world of healthcare.
1. Master the Soft Skill of Communication
You’ve heard people complain about — and possibly even seen in action — doctors with no ‘bedside manner.’ They’re abrupt, to the point, and tactless, quick to move on to the next patient while leaving their previous one in confusion and tears.
The soft skill of communication is essential when you’re a physician. You frequently have the job of delivering bad or devastating news, and how you handle that delivery can be as important as the information itself.
You’re also talking to nurses, administration, and other staff. When you treat them as ‘less than’ because you’re at the top of the healthcare food chain, you develop a reputation for being difficult to work with and uncaring.
While this may not affect you directly, it does impact those around you. They have feelings, and you may find yourself losing prime staff. When that happens, your business slowly takes a hit as knowledgeable, proactive workers take jobs where they feel valued. Patients find other doctors where they feel safe and important.
Communication may be a soft business skill, but it’s a vital one. By connecting with others, you develop loyal, dependable networks that you can trust to act in your best interest while you’re working with patients.
2. Keep Up With Healthcare Technology
Are you still taking paper notes in the exam room? Does your end-of-day paperwork often wait weeks (or longer) before it’s completed because you just don’t want to deal with the computer side of the process?
The reality is that healthcare is predominantly computerized these days, and it’s not going to change. The information you enter into the system is shared with other doctors, insurance companies, and pharmacies. Keeping your notes up-to-date can literally be a life-or-death factor for some patients.
Open your mind to technology. Seek out small group or one-on-one training until you feel comfortable with the programs you’re using and how they interact with other entities. By getting familiar with the platforms, you’ll likely realize that there are things you can use the software for that saves you hours of time.
In addition, when you have your notes in the system timely, your office staff can do their jobs more efficiently. Requests for records for procedures or referrals become a seamless matter of printing or e-faxing the documents in the patient’s chart to the requesting party rather than waiting for you to finish your side of the task. Patient complaints reduce, your reputation improves, and your employees have less stress.
3. Take Side Courses in Business Management
We know you’re busy and your job is high-stress. But if you can spare an hour a week to continue your education and take courses relevant to running your business, you can move from working harder to working smarter.
The field of medicine is always evolving, and you’ll naturally learn these changes as coding, HIPAA, and insurance regulations show up on the scene. But it’s easy to let business practices slip through the cracks.
Look for courses that combine clinical skills with business needs, like those that cover accounting, major coding changes, or malpractice insurance. By understanding these essential parts of your job, you can make informed decisions when they occur on a daily basis. If you own or plan on opening a private practice, the business tips you pick up in these courses will become invaluable to your success.
Regardless of your position on the staff ladder, your job as a physician comes hand-in-hand with certain business skills. By learning the soft skill of communication, becoming comfortable with technology, and picking up some business-centric classes on the side, you’ll see your clinical side exponentially improving.