Changes in medical practice

Medical practice is on the edge of fundamental changes in the way patients are selected, evaluated, treated, and billed. Physicians who put management and financial issues to one side may find themselves wondering how they got left behind.

A major change that most physicians have felt has been the shift from small, independent clusters of physicians to integrated networks of care providers. Doctors are more likely than ever to be employees of hospitals or networks of health care provider rather than members of a solo or group practice. They are also more likely to be working shoulder to shoulder with “physician extenders” and seeing more of their traditional hands-on methods taken over by other members of the health care team.

Technology is penetrating the practice of medicine even as costs have soared beyond the ability of individuals, insurance providers, or the US government to pay for fully. From computerized patient records, to distance conferences with super specialists, from the sharing by computer of images and data to complex pre-birth surgery, doctors are challenged as never before to tune their skills to the latest changes.

There are plenty of bumps on the high-tech road, but ignoring innovations in the way information is collected, stored, and utlilized can lead to deep ruts as competing organizations learn how to use technology for greater efficiency and higher bottom line performance.

—brought to you by Griffith Publishing


Now what? You’ve got the basics. It’s time to grow.

Build credibility for your medical practice
Build credibility for your medical practice

To put your medical group or solo practice into a solid, revenue-producing mode, you need to center in on building a higher degree of credibility than the competition. Credibility leads to trust, loyalty, repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals.

You contribute to your credibility every time a patient walks in the door, sees an attractive waiting area, is greeted in a timely and courteous way, sees the doctor within a reasonable time, is treated with respect during the doctor visit, and leaves feeling good about what the doctor has said and actions they’ve been asked to take.

Pharmacists, dentists, and chiropractors work hard at achieving a higher degree of loyalty and often choose among scores of programs “guaranteed” to help them build a loyal clientele. Medical doctors rarely need to attract new patients because their practices fill up so soon after opening an office. They need something more than an influx of new patients. In a word, physicians need to build credibility with–

  • Colleagues who will refer patients
  • Patients and family members
  • The public 

More on these important topics later…

For more information, go to Griffith Publishing or, for information for doctors who are also writers, go to our physician publishing site.  

Practice building services: a summary

Following are some of the services that specialize in building a client base for medical practices. This is an informational list only, and, unless otherwise noted, comments are based only on a cursory visit to web sites. No payment is solicited or accepted for listing.

Practice Builders.  The company says it is “the nation’s leader in healthcare-practice success since 1979.”  They offer a free marketing assessment to determine which of their services could benefit your most.  Be sure to take the time to review the 13 questions on the opening page. Practice Builders also offers training workshops for practice representatives, workshops, on-site consulting and many other services related to medical practice growth.

Building Your Ideal Practice. This company offers a variety of free seminars, a free newsletter, and a 6-week practice monitoring service, among other things. They also offer an Affiliate program. No physical address. The business is owned by David Steele, “a California-based licensed marriage and family therapist and relationship coach.” Programs feature the owner as the speaker.

I won’t even link to this one…It’s a garish web design touting a patient-getting service for chiropractors that “gets you an additional 23-35 new patients every month and requires no work at all!”

Healthcare Success Strategies. Not limited to medical practices, this company promises to “grow your revenues with the cases you want most.” Services are listed in three categories: Free and low-cost, expert guidance consulting options, and marketing and creative services. Like many companies in this category, no physical or mailing address is given, but an area code of 949 reveals a southern California address.

One Source Consultants Group. This company bundles practice management with architectural services for medical practices. They also offer medical billing, insurance contracting, web hosting and design, and many other services needed by a growing medical practice. They are located in Colleyville, Texas.

I thought I would find more practice-building consulting services, and I’m sure that there are dozens more if I were to keep searching.

There are plenty of articles, books, newsletters, and web pages dedicated to suggestions for building a medical practice, and in another edition of this blog I’ll reference as many of those as I can.

This information is brought to you as a complimentary service of Griffith Publishing, producers of books and newsletters for health care providers.

Step 2: The physician-patient bond

Think of strong bonds in our society: the bond between mother and child, between man and woman, between boss and worker. But the bond that underlies the work of building a strong client base for your medical clinic is the doctor-patient relationship.

People who choose your practice for their medical care want to like and trust you. They may be nervous at the first visit or two because they want so much to avoid getting in the way of a helpful relationship. If you as the physician can set your new patient at ease, both of you will enjoy a higher level of success.

The most direct way to establish a healthy bond with your patients is to have an honest appreciation for each one and a genuine desire to help them achieve better health. If you’re growling inside, it doesn’t matter how big the grin is on your face, people can tell you’re upset. Your patient knows that all is not well. On the other hand, if you have a sincere sense of cooperation toward your patient, it will show.

Instead of bursting into the exam room where your new patient is waiting and blurting out, “Are you Joe Jones? What is your complaint?” You will say, with hand extended for a handshake, something like this: “Joe Jones. I’m Dr. So-and-so. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Let’s see what we can do for you…”

The other people your patient sees are also important in setting the trust level for your visit. You can’t expect a person who stands at the counter waiting for ten minutes while the desk people take care of their telephone calls to feel that good about seeing you. A friendly encounter by the receptionist can come across as rudeness if her voice is shrill or if she barely allows one second to tell the patient that she’ll be right with him or her and then goes back to the phone.

You will never have patient flow with no waits, no interruptions, no mistakes. You can’t afford to have so many workers that they only have to move when a new patient walks in the door.

You don’t want to be the personnel manager for your clinic, but there is one thing you can do that will help set a friendly, helpful, professonal tone in the office: be the leader. Your clinic staff will borrow your attitude towards them and your patients. If you’re business-like but happy, they’ll ease in that direction.

It doesn’t hurt once in a while to compliment a nurse or assistant who goes out of his or her way to deliver what you need on time. “Thank you” still works as a great way to express gratitude.

As you speak positively to your staff about how well they are doing keeping the mood upbeat in the clinic, they will subconsciously work harder to do just that. Of course it has to be sincere. Issue your compliment when you see good work.

In future blogs we will talk about the way you can take the doctor-patient relationships to new heights as you share health-boosting information with your patients, your staff, and the public.  

Published in: on October 1, 2008 at 8:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Step 1 to building your client base

The first step to achieve a broader client base is to look within to see how your practice can do a better job meeting the needs and expectations of your current patients.

Put yourself in the shoes of a patient at your practice. What does that person see first when entering the waiting room? What is the first exchange of words? How does the receptionist or nurse explain the possibility of a delay in seeing the doctor?

For an excellent checklist of items to include in a thorough pracice assessment, go to the website of a professional medical practice consulting service, Healthcare Facilitators. These pages break down the areas of your practice and show you what to look for in your own practice. By studying these points you can perform a self-evaluation that will help you make changes or decide if consulting services would be a good investment for your clinical practice. Here is a sampling from the list:

  • Lobby image
  • How the receptionist greets the patient
  • How the physician enters and exits each encounter

and more…

Whatever your position with the practice, you will pick up comments from patients about their care. You may hear a disgruntled patient complaining about how long he had to wait, or a desk person commenting to another worker that Dr. So-and-so is late getting to the clinic on Monday morning, again. Pay attention to these comments, but don’t reorganize your practice because of one remark. Ask questions, listen, and make or suggest changes accordingly.

Published in: on September 30, 2008 at 12:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Your patients are your clients

Griffith Publishing has been working for years with physician practices and individual physicians to build their practices and strengthen loyalty with patients and staff.

One way we do this is by working with physicians who love to write. Whether it’s a tale concocted out of sheer imagination or a recipe for making it through cancer therapy, people love to read what their doctors have written. For dozens of ideas and suggestions, visit our “just for doctors” website, or call us at 208 454-9553 or 800 359-9503.

Another way we do this is by turning the physician into a newsletter publisher. Studies show that people read and trust information from their doctor. When this information is presented in an interesting, understandable, and graphically pleasing way–they want to know more, and they pass the word around.

A third channel of service we offer is helping physicians set up productive and easily managed web sites. We determine content by discussing your practice and your marketing needs with you and then become your liaison between the clinics or health care group and the graphic designer we recommend for your project.

If you’re looking for quick-fix, high-priced, or globally comprehensive projects, you’ll need to keep looking. For work at your budget level and your time line to bring you what you need most to establish strong and lasting relationships with your patients, we’d like to show you what we can do.

And don’t stop with communicating with your patients. You need a visible presence with your colleagues, your staff, leaders in your community, for a wide circle of influence.

You can help your patients and others better understand the world of medical practice and how they can work with you for the best results.

We plan to stuff this blog with tons of ideas and suggestions as well as links to other sites where you can go to learn more about successfully marketing your clinical practice.

Be sure to visit for general information about Griffith Publishing, and then visit our blogs that deal with medical issues:

  1. Tobacco/Comments on the play of power to get our children hooked on cigarettes
  2. Pills n Potions/ News and comments by a lay person on pharmaceutical news
  3. Healthworks Tips and suggestions for occupational medicine physicians and managers

Call any time with your comments or questions: 208 454-9553. We’ve been working with physicians in publishing since 1988.

Published in: on September 29, 2008 at 3:04 am  Comments (1)