A nice article on the DIY craze in the medical profession. Basically, if you’re a dentist and you’re thinking of doing your own marketing (or HR or cleaning or construction), you may want think again:
Here’s the entire article:
5 Things in Your Practice That Aren’t D-I-Y
When to call in the professionals
By Carrie Rossenfeld
The do-it-yourself or D-I-Y trend has become quite popular among homeowners looking to save money or gain satisfaction by renovating, decorating or landscaping on their own. There are whole television networks, books and websites devoted to the D-I-Y phenomenon and how to accomplish seemingly complex tasks without the help of a professional.
In the medical arena, D-I-Y has become more popular recently as practices look for ways to make up for reimbursement and revenue shortfalls. It can be very rewarding to save money by doing certain things yourself, but not everything in a medical practice is—or should be—D-I-Y, for the sake of you, your staff or your patients.
Why not D-I-Y?
There exists the erroneous belief that D-I-Y is less expensive, says Rodger Roeser, CEO of The Eisen Agency in Newport, Ky. “In reality, it takes away focus from your core competencies, it’s rarely done professionally or at the level it needs to be, and your time is worth something. So overall, D-I-Y in most cases outside of the core competency is pound foolish. There can be some level of ‘satisfaction’ in doing it yourself, and if you have a particular affinity for doing it well, but in most cases, D-I-Y should be saved for tiling your kitchen.”
Jeff Ziegler, VP of business/client development for Crane Creek Communications in San Francisco, which specializes in medical marketing, adds that D-I-Y is best left for gardening and car repairs (if you are an enthusiast), “although I wouldn’t recommend changing brake drums and pads unless you are very confident in your ability. D-I-Y has always been a popular option for professional practices—doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc.—especially when it comes to areas of the practice where the practitioner has a ‘bit of knowledge’. Many say that ‘a little knowledge can be dangerous,’ and in many D-I-Y instances, it’s true!”
Some practitioners who own and manage their practice have an entrepreneurial spirit that encourages D-I-Y. “They run their business with the same commitment and dedication they give to treating patients,” says Laurie Kendall-Ellis, a physical therapist in Alexandria, Va. “They want to do it all.”
5 things in your practice that are not D-I-Y
Experts say you should always get professional input and often execution for the following:
1. Marketing, advertising and public relations—Marketing issues are far removed from the competencies of most medical and medical-related practices, but because many doctors believe they are experts at everything, they try to take this on as well, says Roeser. “Most do it poorly, if they do it at all. Some of the worst marketing and tactical implementation I have seen in any industry as a whole is in the medical profession.” Instead, speak with several experts in this field to determine which one will best promote your business to the public.
(Read MOT’s article, “Scoping Out the Competition—What are You Up Against?”)
2. Social media and website design—This arena is still fairly new to most people, especially professionals. Utilizing social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and other online tools effectively can be a full-time job, and, along with website design, falls under the category of marketing, advertising and public relations as something most providers shouldn’t try to tackle themselves. “What are you going to do today: operate on a patient or update your Facebook page?” says Roeser.
Ziegler says a practice’s website, social-media presence and patient views can make or break the decision of which provider to choose for many new patients, so it’s important to get it right. The right professional can help you do that. “A vast majority of medical websites are botch jobs that were done by website designers who know little about what medical practices need to achieve from websites and marketing—mainly because medical practices don’t know what they need to achieve. This is both unprofessional and alarming and shows a lack of understanding of the market, patients and the Internet-savvy medical consumer. In many cases, it is insulting to patients who want to have a greater say in their medical care.”
(Read MOT’s article, “5 Reasons to Use Social Media in Your Practice”)
3. Legal, accounting and HR—It’s important to have a legal professional eyeball any binding documents, such as your lease, before you sign. While you may believe such documents are “standard” and don’t contain any language you don’t fully understand, once you sign it, you have little recourse. Also consider trusting the professionals when it comes to bookkeeping and HR responsibilities, particularly if your practice has grown to a considerable size, says Kendall-Ellis.
(Read MOT’s article, “Does Your Practice Have the Right Legal Structure?”)
4. Construction—Your landlord may give you a certain amount of leeway with tenant improvements, but you should still consult with a professional before making any structural changes to your office space. For one thing, there are safety issues to consider. For another, you want your space to look right and to achieve the affect you’re after. A professional builder with experience in medical practices can offer you insight and options you may not think of on your own. And often, a good professional can save you money.
(Read MOT’s article, “6 Biggest Problems in Medical Office Design and Construction”)
5. Cleaning—While you may save a few bucks by doing your own office cleaning, it’s not wise to do so in a medical practice, mostly because infection control is too important an issue to ignore. Professional medical-practice cleaning services know which products to use and how to use them in a way that minimizes the risk of potential infection and keeps your office looking clean, neat and tidy in the process. Also, if you try to do all the cleaning yourself in addition to your core responsibilities, you may miss something along the way. Definitely leave this one to the professionals—you’ll be fresher and probably sleep better in the end.
(Read MOT’s articles “Infection Control in Your Office” and “Infection Control: Beyond the Minimum”)
How to know when not to D-I-Y
Kendall-Ellis offers this checklist of warning signs that you may need to call in the professionals:
• You’ve doubled the growth of your business and doubled staff
• A former employee threatens to sue you
• You need to review and sign a contract
• You no longer have the time or desire to complete a task and it stops being a priority
• You are working overtime to complete all of your work
• The IRS is auditing your business
• Former employees are collecting unemployment
• You just don’t have the skill set, and it’s only becoming more complex
According to Douglas Won, MD, director and CEO of Minimally Invasive SpineCare, PA in Irving, Texas, the size of your practice can also determine whether or not to D-I-Y. “If the practice has less than 4-5 physicians, then it is more cost-effective to outsource the billing and collections. Also, IT services should be outsourced as well [if the practice is this small]. It will cost a practice more to hire a full-time IT or billing person if they don’t have the scale/volume to support the department.”
Won also recommends using a practice-management service organization such as M3 Care, LLC, which can provide these services a la carte. “The physician practice can pick and choose the services they need to outsource.”