What makes a successful solo physician? As a doctor in charge of your own business, you need more than just extensive medical knowledge and clinical expertise to run a profitable practice.
Especially now, physicians are dealing with a great number of challenges and increasing competition. To keep your head above water, you must constantly evolve your services and deliver personalized patient care.
The most prosperous independent doctors incorporate the features of a well-rounded healthcare specialist, a compassionate listener, and an efficient manager. Let’s find out more about what skills are crucial for the success of your doctor’s office, and how to acquire them.
Strong Work Ethic
The most sought-after physicians are motivated, knowledgeable, and confident in their expertise. Admitting your patients on time, facilitating access to your services, keeping the office tidy and clean - these are the basics that demonstrate your professionalism and dedication.
Flawless work ethic also entails constant investment in your professional skills. Medicine is one of the fastest-progressing fields, so you shouldn’t rely on the knowledge you learned at the university 20 years ago. Successful practitioners always stay on top of things.
Fortunately, staying current has become much easier thanks to the Internet. Now you have access to tools and resources that didn’t exist five or ten years ago.
Here are some excellent online resources you can use to enhance your medical knowledge:
UpToDate - this is an evidence-based point-of-care medical resource created by 6,900 medicine experts. You may use it to search for treatment recommendations, verify drug details, or seek decision support.
Epocrates - this medical reference mobile app offers features such as drug information, interaction check, infectious disease treatment guidelines or ICD-10 codebase.
Figure 1 - an application that provides you with free and instant access to thousands of real-life medical cases from a global community of medical doctors across 185 specialties. In the app, you can view, share, and discuss every case with your peers.
Online journals and magazines. There’s a myriad of medical resources on the Internet, but the ones particularly worth mentioning are JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), The New England Journal of Medicine, The American Journal of Medicine and American Family Physician.
Close Bond With Patients
Patients respond better to doctors who are empathetic, compassionate and demonstrate a perfect bedside manner. They choose private practices hoping to receive more intimate, personalized care than in large facilities.
That is why establishing a close bond with your patients and going an extra mile to show them your concern for their wellbeing is critical for your success. But a visit to your office is just one occasion when you interact with your patients. Providing reliable after-hours support over the phone or e-mail is equally important. Many patients will be inclined to abandon your practice if you fail to deliver on that expectation.
By leveraging technology, you can engage your patients on all levels of interaction, offering your assistance any time. Modern, affordable solutions such as physician answering services, automated email sender or patient portal software allow you to always stay in touch with patients while enjoying more private time.
By choosing to go solo, a physician is essentially deciding on joining the ranks of small business owners. However, a vast number of solo practitioners concentrate primarily on clinical tasks while neglecting the business side of their work. Fortunately, business skills are easy to develop, and many resources can help you along the way.
To position your practice for growth and adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, you can start from reading books devoted to running a doctor’s office:
Secrets of the Best-Run Practices by Judy Capko - this guide is specifically focusing on practice management, providing tips and insights on profit optimization, business management, workflow efficiency, or financial planning and billing.
Field Guide to the Business of Medicine: Resource for Health Care Professionals by Christopher Clyne and Britton Jewell - it’s a primer on business management in healthcare. It covers aspects such as insurance, reimbursement methods, industry trends, and other admin trends that a modern practice owner should be familiar with.
The White Coat Investor: A Doctor's Guide To Personal Finance And Investing by James M. Dahle MD - if income management is the greatest concern in your practice, this may be the right resource for you to gain a solid financial footing.
Owning a private practice is no easy task. As an independent doctor, you are wearing many hats. The one of a medical professional, a businessperson, a receptionist, marketer, HR specialist, accountant, and manager. By taking advantage of some of the above tools and resources, you will be able to develop the qualities shared by the most successful solo physicians and consolidate all of these roles efficiently.