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Culture is King

Posted by Ilena Di Toro | Posted on April 21, 2020

Think of the culture in your practice. What words come to mind? It is helpful? Patient centered? All of the above? None of the above? All of the above and more?

How about the business side of things? What words come to mind? Is it dynamic? Proactive? All of the above? None of the above? All of the above and more?

While it is easy to run on automatic pilot once you get settled in a practice, it is important take a look at the practice culture and how you run the practice. Especially since one affects the other.

“What do you mean one affects the other?” You might be saying now. Apple has a saying “Culture beats strategy”. While it sounds touchy-feely, it is true. The best strategy won’t work if the culture isn’t a supportive one. For example, if you are all about hitting a certain patient number but your staff is grumbling that they are overworked, is that the right goal to have and will it be sustainable under those circumstances?

When it comes to running the practice, are you doing the same thing you always have done? The saying of “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” is often true. Yet, things change. For example, Blockbuster wasn’t broken, but the change was Netflix. Still, there were opportunities for Blockbuster to adapt. In 2000, there was an opportunity for Blockbuster to buy Netflix. The plan was for Netflix to handle the online presence and Blockbuster would handle physical locations. Blockbuster’s executives thought that was a dumb idea and nixed the idea. In 2010, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy and now Netflix is both a content provider and content creator.

“I’m just a small practice,” you are probably saying now. “I don’t need to worry about all this big stuff.” Have you heard of Opternative? It was an Internet based service that offered glasses or contact lenses prescription via an online screening test. Opternative ceased operations in August 2019 but there will be other companies that will attempt to bypass a visit to the eye doctor and offer prescriptions via an online screening test. You can’t just rest on the fact that you are an eye doctor. After all, the executives at Blockbuster thought the company didn’t need to adapt and look at what happened.

You don’t need to learn any new buzzwords or buy anything, it is just a matter of having an open mind and a willingness not so much to try every new thing that comes down the pike, but to be skeptical of what is already out there. If you have been doing something the same way for years, consider trying something different to see if you can get better results.

For example, if you are sending postcard reminders about appointments, give patients a choice of email, text or postcard appointment reminders. Start using social media to reach out to patients. Encourage staff to educate patients about why certain frames are better suited to their needs than others. If an employee suggests something, give it a shot. It just might work.

While the tried and true provide a road map for your practice, sometimes you have to take a chance on changing the routine.


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