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Medical Practice Business And Marketing Articles

Article #28 - Dec. 2011

“Are You Aligning Your Medical Practice For
Future Profitability And Expansion?”

Structure your medical practice business to adjust
to the continuing and future changes.

Anna Wilde Mathews, a WSJ journalist, may not have the answers to the future of U.S. Health Care, but competently points out in her article in the December 12, 2011 issue of the WSJ the current thinking among the healthcare planners. If you plan to remain in your private medical practice that you own or plan to own, you absolutely should be planning your alternatives right now.

Are you simply going to sit back and watch the vulture’s picnic? The unsettled dust storm of future healthcare management, by all indications presently, is sending a clear message to private physicians. Either be the compliant victim of the upcoming new healthcare system trend of merging everything, or make the difficult decision to
remain in control of your own medical practice, how you practice, and where
you practice.

Don’t ever let yourself fall into the “victim” mode. You have a good number of medical practice business management alternatives available to you that you may not have
ever considered seriously (coming article).  

The forces that are blinding the minds of the healthcare planners are those that compete with the traditional format of medical practice and healthcare management
we have always been so comfortable with. No matter what system we evolve into, personal independence to practice as we want and make medical judgments based on our knowledge, skills, and experience can never be taken away from us.

Some forces that always prevent quality healthcare 

1. Cost of providing healthcare varies directly with the quality
of healthcare…

Evidence that forcing professional healthcare providers to cut costs that consequently reduces the quality of healthcare is abundant. The British healthcare system is a good example.

Not only do they continue to lose their good physicians to other areas of the world, but also continue to see a steady transition back to private practice for
the same reasons that physicians and other professional healthcare providers in our country are frustrated to the point of quitting practice. The more doctors
are pushed to reduce cost, the poorer the health care will be.

2. Reduction in medical doctor’s incomes vs. increased assembly line medicine... 

When medical practice income is restricted by any means because of the larger issue of affordable healthcare for everyone, it’s clear that students likely will select a different profession, unless they have a robotic personality and love
being told what to practice, how to practice, where to practice, and if they can practice. Doctors already in medical practice today are being forced to increase their patient load, sometimes unethically, to financially survive.

All doctors will reach a burnout phase sooner or later. Marketing their medical practices will reduce the possibility of that considerably. The more the doctor's incomes drop the more doctors will leave medical practice. College students
won't pick a career that results in debt and poverty.

3. Medical provider mergers vs. private medical practice…  

Healthcare planners are bullied by political, economic, and human rights issues. Building large systems by mergers or cooperation, from hospitals to medical offices and private medical practices, always leads to the same end. For doctors it’s loss of independent medical judgment, income control, personal choices for medical care of patients, and one’s motivation to improve medical skills
and knowledge.  

For hospitals it’s a thundering conflict of methods and elements of medical care being provided or not. Hospitals merging with doctors and their medical
practices brings on financial and practice control headaches. Applying this approach has helped some hospitals to survive financially, but huge numbers
of smaller hospitals have closed their doors as a result of no mergers. 

4. Professional satisfaction vs. dictatorial medicine…

Are you a doctor that derives professional satisfaction from independent private medical practice, or a doctor whose satisfaction comes with a focus on time off, fixed schedules, employee status, and acceptable limitations on your skills and medical knowledge? The new generation of doctors trend towards the latter.

I’ve purposely inserted these common issues here to give you a running start for considerations for what you will soon need to make decisions about... your style of practice, what gives you the highest potential to fulfill your goals and dreams for your medical practice business. 

Ideas about what to concentrate on in your medical practice business
plans and goals for the immediate future...   

Whatever decisions you make about what you’re willing to do or not do in your
medical professional career, the most important thing to keep in mind is to prepare your present medical practice to be adaptable to any healthcare system established
in the future. Here are a few ideas...

1. Focus your practice on a medical care niche you especially like.

You’ve no doubt recognized the trends towards increasing numbers of medical subspecialties... niches. You probably also agree that a medical student or doctor can’t possibly learn all they should know about medicine, which is manifested by the increasing subspecialties in medicine.

Within your medical practice you have areas of medical care that you love to do and you’re very good at doing for your patients. Rather than becoming a "commodity practitioner" where there are hundreds of doctors doing the same thing you are, you are obliged to create a position for yourself above the others, at least for any successful financial outcome for your practice. You do that by being the best at one or two elements of your practice business.

From a marketing strategy and successful business standpoint, you will do far better in your career by narrowing down your expertise to what you do best. You’ll earn much more money, be recognized for being the best in those areas among patients, and put yourself in much greater demand when and if you are forced into collaborating with the medical system that’s coming.

2. Make decisions about what you will do... now... not later when all hell is breaking loose.

If you haven’t already formulated in your mind what you can and will do, this is a good time, before the 2012 elections and after when the healthcare legislation again reaches a fever pitch. Take time to read everything you can about what the healthcare planners are saying and thinking, because you will end up in their pockets… you need to know which pocket you prefer be in long before the final choice has to be made.

Decisions you are making here concern you personally. For example, if you have already worked as an employee inside an HMO, like Kaiser Permanente, then you may have made a decision you liked it… or just couldn’t continue to practice under their supervision. In that case the decision has already been made. Now, after deciding one way or the other, the next step is to settle on a pre-planned path of positioning yourself and your practice for the most advantages possible.

If you are happy inside a healthcare managed system, work yourself up to the chief of the department, or some higher administrative position where the salaries are higher and your time is more adjustable. At that point, you will be able to transfer to another managed care system for even greater advantages.

If you are fitted to be your own boss, then it’s time to stop doing the parts of your medical practice you dislike and spend more time on what you do like. Remember, you don’t have to practice everything you learned, just the things you really find exciting and fulfilling. Practicing everything you were taught is neither smart nor efficient. When your patients see what you love to do, the word spreads. Referrals increase. Practice income hits a high.

3. The importance of timing

As of today, you have very little time left to position yourself for the top spots. It’s time enough to create the adjustments in your practice that can open doors in any direction when it becomes necessary. You can move to an area of the country you find more attractive to practice in so as to be fully established when the medical tsunami hits.

When you read the medical practice stats, about 14% of physicians that move their practice sites each year in the USA, it reminds you that many doctors settle in spots they learn was a mistake, or are dissatisfied with the area for some reason that shows up later on (like practice competition, lack of adequate consultants, hospital facilities inadequate for what you want to be doing
in practice).

Are you one of those doctors? Do it now… you’ll never find a better time to move if your circumstances permit.

Another more practical issue where timing is critical is that of improving your knowledge and skills to a new level… planned to do, never did. If you are a primary care doctor, take some office surgery courses and do your own biopsies and laceration repairs instead of referring to dermatologists or surgeons.

If you are a surgeon, learn new surgical procedures and skills that are not available in your peer community. Make yourself different from other practices. There will be large numbers of doctors trying to position themselves at the last minute before the tsunami hits as you can imagine. Treat yourself well now and it will pay off whatever happens in healthcare.

4. Rather than solo... go group.

It’s better not to waste time reinventing the wheel. Use what already works and modify it to meet your needs. Can you imagine how many solo doctors are going to be tramping over each other to join a private practice group when or
if the new healthcare system is structured so as to obliterate solo
medical practice?

One obvious reason this is a profoundly good choice for solo physicians in private medical practice, whether the system is changed or not, is the overhead savings when in a group practice. Better to do it now and not when every doctor is trying to find a group position.

It’s almost impossible today to begin a new medical practice coming out of med school or residency because of the horrific educational debt hanging over new doctors. Can you imagine going to a banker to request a new loan to open a practice when you are indebted for $150,000 or so and unemployed? 

Medical groups, mixed or single specialty, offer advantages that combine your relative independence of medical practice and sharing the costs of overhead. Both factors are essential to remaining financially solvent and profitable. Many medical practice business experts feel that private solo practice is a lost cause for future planning. They may be right.

5. Time to create a non-professional additional business income

It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the continual drop in medical practice incomes over the last ten years or so will continue. Any college student thinking about going to medical school today probably understands the debt harness they will have at the time they graduate from medical school... maybe not.

Additionally, those of us doctors who are now at retirement age understand that it would have been a good decision (had we known the future) to have developed a separate multiple stream income business to help meet our family obligations most doctors can’t meet today... like funding a retirement plan and paying for kid’s college education. Any person considering a career in medicine should already be creating such a second income business.

Fact: Physicians and other healthcare doctors will never (rare exceptions) reach an income level commensurate with their educational level, time and money spent in education and training, or hard-earned professional lifestyle, wi thout a sound business education.

Doctors never sign an agreement to be relegated to the lower middle class in our society, meaning being poor.

All of the personal gratification, fulfillment, joy, self-esteem, and aggrandizement resulting from years of medical care of patients doesn’t compensate for having to compromise our family obligations, not being able to reach our personal dreams and goals, and having our full potential
trashed, all because of lack of financial resources. And we all know what causes that… and it’s not from lack of hard work, motivation, or passion. 

Get started now in your additional business… it’s not as hard as you think.

6. Employ a family member as a marketing manager?

Literally every medical practice needs a special person hired to do the marketing for the medical business. Not only will it add a second income to the family, but also will be a person you can easily keep tabs on to insure the job is done right. And, they will work overtime without compensation... maybe!

I must point out that employing family members can have very deleterious consequences. Having a spouse with a suspicious personality about what is happening around the office can be fatal, or worse. My daughter worked in my office to help out for a summer job while in high school. Everything was reported back to her mother, including what's being said, her perceptions of events, and office business troubles. Not Good!!

If not a family member, then hire someone with marketing knowledge from the local college or marketing agencies. Don’t hire a patient of yours.  


I’ve covered only a few of the ideas and marketing strategies here for lack of space. Keeping a focus on the downward trends associated with professional medical practitioners and the medical profession in general, is my way of finding ways to help you avoid them... not simply to help you get out of them.

The author, Curt Graham, M.D., an experienced physician, author, marketer and expert in medical practice business and marketing strategies, is an expert author and motivator for professionals in the business world.  He is a platinum expert author with and has been published in Modern Physician and elsewhere.
Discover how to make your medical practice flourish and exceed all expectations with simple business and marketing strategies.  Click the link now for the effective ways to do it.

©Copyright 2004-2011, Curtis Graham, M.D., L & C Internet Enterprises, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


Article #28A


photo of Dan Kennedy riding on a bull

"Gratitude As A Marketing Strategy"

Many years ago, I took over a business with mammoth collection problems: almost all of its customers had open accounts and paid their bills ten to sixty days late (except those who didn't pay at all). We quickly instituted a number of corrective measures, including tighter credit controls and policies, interests charges, a sequence of past-due notices, and collection calls.

However, we also instituted a positive strategy. We started sending hand-signed thank you notes for prompt payment to anybody who did pay on time... those who were almost on time... and even late payers who responded to a past-due notice. Guess what happened? Those customers who received thank you notes became better paying customers.

I know a Doctor who started a procedure of giving fresh, long-stemmed red roses to his women patients who showed up for their appointment on time, or paid their bills on time, or referred another patient. "Funny thing," he told me. "We no longer have patients missing appointments. Our collections have improved. Referrals are up. And, some guys are asking how they can get roses, too!

Here are a few specific ideas you might adopt, as ways of saying
thank you...

  • Keep customers' birthdays on file and send cards and/or mail gifts 
  • Send Thanksgiving cards or letters. Make it a habit to drop a personal
    thank-you note in the mail each day, to at least one customer 
  • Send a gift certificate or discount certificate to a customer who
    makes an unusually large purchase 
  • Host a "Customer Appreciation Event" - a Christmas party, a
    backyard bar-b-q 
  • Have an occasional closed-to-the-public, preferred customer sale 
  • Drop in personally on your best customers, with a surprise gift

I figured it up just the other day; last year, personally and for my various businesses combined, I signed checks for well over one million dollars, in payment for goods and services to all sorts of people and companies. And I don't care what anybody says - a million bucks is a lot of money. Yet, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of the recipients of all that money who have expressed any gratitude in any formal kind of way. Only one of them found out and recognized my birthday.

Just saying "thanks" is a big step ahead of the competition today.

DAN S. KENNEDY  is a serial, multi-millionaire entrepreneur; highly paid and sought after marketing and business strategist; advisor to countless first-generation, from-scratch multi-millionaire and 7-figure income entrepreneurs and professionals; and, in his personal practice, one of the very highest paid direct-response copywriters in America. As a speaker, he has delivered over 2,000 compensated presentations, appearing repeatedly on programs with the likes of Donald Trump, Gene Simmons (KISS), Debbi Fields (Mrs. Fields Cookies), and many other celebrity-entrepreneurs, for former U.S. Presidents and other world leaders, and other leading business speakers like Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy and Tom Hopkins, often addressing audiences of 1,000 to 10,000 and up.  His popular books have been favorably recognized by Forbes, Business Week, Inc. and Entrepreneur Magazine. His NO B.S. MARKETING LETTER, one of the business newsletters published for Members of Glazer-Kennedy Insider's Circle, is the largest paid subscription newsletter in its genre in the world.


Articles © 2008/Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle LLC.


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