Basic Fundamental #4 - Face the Facts

There is an objective reality out there, but we view it through the spectacles of our beliefs, attitudes, and values.  ~David G. Myers, Social Psychology

I recently received a pearl of wisdom from a collegue at a practice seminar. "The secret to practice success is being on every vision insurance out there."  It's not a terrible concept, when he explained his logic:

"It is a ticket to get them in the door, find out what they need and find ways to get it to them.  If they have medical issues, we can bring them back for medical testing and we can always offer them something in addition to what they cover."  He understood the lower exam re-imbursements and the lack of profitability on covered materials, but he stood his ground.

But does it work?  Exactly how much does it cost you to do an eye exam?  How much must you collect to break even?  What percentage of your full schedule is made up of these free exams and how much for that profitable medical testing? And how profitable is that medical testing anyhow?

This strategy almost always works to fill up the books and that usually brings short term benefits.  Those benefits are often enough to convince us that it was a good idea that we need to continue.  But often, the books are full of un-profitable visits and we are again un-fulfilled.

This is one example of an idea sounding good, making sense but maybe coming back to burn you.  There are some facts that need to be faced logically to know whether or not this strategy is working.  And you have to go get the truth.

Fundamental # 4 - Successful practices face the facts

Successful practices seek out the facts by watching the trends of the business and looking for problems and for opportunities.  Many times they are found at the same time.  Practices that are growing, that are thriving are consistently looking for ways to do things better.  But the truly successful ones can face the facts about decisions and look at it from every angle.

By far, the biggest struggle for facing the facts is pride.  If I decide to make a change and it turns out to make things worse, how quickly can I say, "My bad."?

Steps to Face the Facts 

Try to keep emotion out of it

This is much easier said than done.  You will be surprised how many big decisions you make based on an emotional attachment to a person or a method you thought up or worked well before.

Inquire before sharing your opinion

Nobody likes to disagree with the boss.  So by making a habit of asking for input from the team, before sharing your views, you will get better input.

Avoid seeking real input via e-mail 

If you are truly interested, get the facts from a face.

Be systematic in gathering data

Find the way that you best analyze data and design a system to put it in front yourself routinely. Plan for a date to follow-up and when you do follow-up, set another date.

Case Study 

This is a real world example for my practice.  I am sure many of you can relate.  First you should know that my practice is based on relationships with my patients.  We strive to build trust with our patients every day.

Many of our patients are communicating by email and text and we have been working for a couple of years to find the best tools to use to stay in touch through this medium.  Does this sound familiar?  We finally implemented a program that automatically reminded our patients about upcoming appointments via email or text message.  They loved it.  We got so many great comments about our tech savvy methods.  We celebrated these comments that made us look better than our competitors.  I was proud of our innovative efforts.

Fast forward six months.  At a Leadership Team meeting, we notice that our no-shows and cancellations have been on the rise.  We began pointing fingers at each other.  Looking for the cause, we decided it may be the internet making the reminder calls.  We defended the system, because it was so much easier, people talked about loving it and it was a great idea.  After facing the facts, we couldn't deny that it is a lot easy to cancel your appointment via email.

We reacted with a quick study:  A person called the patient and says, "We are starting to prepare for your visit, and wanted to call to see if you had any special concerns."  No Shows went away and no one complained because we didn't send them a text.

People call from my office now.