It goes like this….
You hear about a great new idea. Maybe it’s a referral program, a recall program or a cool customer service procedure. Doesn’t matter, all you know is you want to implement this idea in your practice.
So, you bring it to your team. Your excitement is infectious. They’re behind you on it and implementation begins.
After a time, the excitement wears off. This new idea is being done less frequently. You start asking about it less. Then six months later, you’re having a “remember when” conversation about it with your office manager. The idea “died on the vine” and isn’t being done at all anymore.
Starting anything new can create instability. Learning new procedures or “systems” can create so much confusion that these “new” activities are either stopped completely or altered, never achieving their promised result.
And we’ve all experienced this to one degree or another. It might have been a recall program, scheduling policy, marketing campaign, etc. And they experience that same cycle from excitement at the start to a couple months later, nothing’s happening or everyone agrees that the idea “didn’t work” (of course because it was never properly implemented).
Working along these lines, I’ve found that this “fizzling” can become a primary barrier to practice expansion.
And while the MGE Program is inherently designed to overcome this problem, I wanted to write this post to give you a few tips on successfully implementing new ideas—and KEEPING them implemented to a point where they become integrated in the day-to-day operation of your practice.
Starting Out the Right Way
It starts with two basic factors:
1. Getting your staff really involved in helping do what’s needed, and
2. Knowing that doing this new activity will improve the result, and sticking with it.
This can be tricky since the new activity has not been done yet, and therefore there is little proof that it will work except by looking at the results others have achieved or knowing logically that this new activity makes sense to you. And then it can be even harder to communicate to others who do not see the same things you see and only see the problems these new changes may create.
So, when you start something new, you really need to be committed and give it a proper chance before deviating from it or deciding it’s not worth the effort. And then you need to show anyone on your team who’s involved why it’s so important and how it will make things better. Make sure they understand how it works and how it improves things in the office—which should ultimately result in making their jobs easier. Give them examples and show them which problems it will solve.
I like to use the analogy of starting a diet or an exercise program. It really looks good and the results look good but the actual discipline to carry it out takes a lot of determination and staying focused on the result you’re trying to achieve.
And of utmost importance here: NEW IDEAS CANNOT ALLOW SUCCESSFUL ACTIONS TO DROP OUT. Write that in stone. In other words, you can’t sacrifice what you are doing that is working for a “new” plan. Both have to be done.
Create Guides or Checklists for Team Members to Follow
I know from experience that having a guide or checklist can help keep you focused on needed changes.
What are the exact actions that your staff need to do in order to implement this new activity? Good. Write them down as a checklist for them to follow. Or add them to an existing checklist.
This way it isn’t something that can just slip their mind as they go about their day, and there’s no question as to what they’re supposed to be doing. This is actually a huge factor in getting anything done consistently in your practice.
For example: the receptionist could have a checklist for an “exit interview” patients do before leaving the office, which would include: collecting any payment due, asking for feedback and scheduling them for their next recall appointment. Well, if you’re implementing a new referral program, you may simply add the step“Give them a Care-to-Share card and ask them if they know anyone who should come in to see the doctor.” Have the receptionist go through this checklist with every patient.
Repeat Yourself…a Few Times
Now, I know it can be frustrating as a business owner when you have to keep telling your staff the same thing over and over again. In the perfect world, you’d only have to mention something once and it would get done right away and you’d never have to worry about it again. But, unfortunately we don’t live in the perfect world.
There’s a funny phenomenon where people kind of inherently think something must not be very important if it’s only mentioned once. Even great employees can be subject to this. Here they are doing all these things they usually do and have been told to do, every day—for years. Those are important, obviously, because they are the basis of their entire job. Then there’s some “new” idea and they may or may not truly grasp its importance. If you never bring it up again, it’s going to be the first thing to go by the wayside when they get busy or distracted.
Not to mention that we all tend to get used to our routines. Humans are creatures of habit. We naturally want to stick to the routines that we’re comfortable with and know are workable, if at all possible. If we don’t get a “nudge” once in a while, we go right back to the usual.
Luckily this can be fixed just by repeating it a few times and following up on it.
If you’re implementing a new system or policy, you may have to mention it at every morning huddle or weekly staff meeting for a few weeks, until the staff becomes accustomed to doing it as a part of their usual routine.
Then follow up on it. This doesn’t necessarily need to be done by yourself, but could be done by the office manager while you’re working on patients. But somebody needs to check and see if this new activity you’ve implemented is actually happening. By following up the same day or the next day, you can easily prompt the staff to get going on it—but if you wait weeks or months only to find that it was completely forgotten, you basically need to start from scratch all over again.
I hope this helps you make some positive changes in your office. If you’d like to learn more about organizing your office, including hiring the right staff, structuring your practice, increasing efficiency and profitability, contact us here at MGE. I can answer any questions you have at: . We’d love to help!