MGE’s weekly webletter, Issue 8.
National Health Care, Dentistry and your Future
By Jeffrey M. Blumberg, COO, MGE
“How is the new health care legislation going to affect my practice?”
I’ve heard this question (or some variation of it) “quite a bit” since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act was signed into law in March of 2010.
And, while I’ve had an opportunity to review the literally thousands of pages of this legislation; pointing up the various sections of them is not the focus of this article.
The purpose of this article is not to share my personal feelings or viewpoints on the subject. What I have to say applies to you – regardless of where you stand on the issue – for, against, in the middle or whatever.
Here’s the reality of the situation: While this legislation is a sweeping change (as opposed to a minor one), there is nothing new about “change.” Things change all the time, whether these changes are governmental, economic or other. If you are properly equipped, you can survive (and thrive) despite just about any change in your environment.
Let’s zero in on the basics. If you’re a dentist or dental specialist, chances are you own your own business, solely or with partners.
You have the skills necessary (clinically) to practice dentistry. You picked these skills up in dental school and honed them through continuing education and practice.
You perform the dental arts so to speak within the framework of a business – your practice.
(Related: Is Dentistry Still a Good Opportunity?)
This business must make more money than it spends (surplus) to succeed. How much surplus you create governs your profitability and, in turn, your personal financial success.
To make your business profitable you at a minimum must:
1. Perform good service.
2. Acquire a regular flow of new customers.
3. Your new and existing customers must purchase (pay for) an adequate amount of your services.
4. Control/manage expenses.
How well you do 1-4 above determines your profitability. While money is not the “end all” it is a means to an end. More income/money creates more survival potential.
The separate actions that go into 1-4 above are numerous. You have to hire good people, you need to be organized, someone has to “run” the place (management), and the practice has to present (and collect) needed treatment and market effectively.
OK, so far so good. I know I’m treating this rather simply, but most powerful things are just that – simple.
What I say next you may have heard before. I want you to read it anyway. It’s of grave importance – especially now.
When it comes to your practice, you’re the “captain” of the ship so to speak. Using the sea as an example of an ever changing environment, let’s say that we have a captain who, being rather unknowledgeable, only knows how to sail in placid (calm) waters. As long as everything is nice and “smooth sailing,” everything’s great. But how about when the ship hits rough waters? Now, we have a problem. The crew ? panicked ? looks to their captain for guidance and he or she can’t provide any. As the water slams against the hull and the ship violently rocks back and forth, our captain either a) Issues orders blindly “hoping they’ll work” or b) Panics him/herself and hides in their cabin.
Chances for survival in this mess are slim.
Contrast this to a captain who has the necessary knowledge and skill to survive in any waters. Things get rough and he or she gets things under control fast. No one panics, and – while it might be tough for a spot – things eventually smooth out. The ship sails on.
What’s the difference? Simple – one captain knew how to handle it and one didn’t. One knew what to “do” and one didn’t (or at least was uncertain about it).
As we went over earlier, you have a good knowledge of the clinical aspect of your practice. This is something you “know.” How about the administrative aspect? By this I mean the technology and activity involved in running, managing, marketing and building your business.
It was through training that you earned your knowledge and became a clinician. Training is also required to become a good “administrator” (marketer, salesperson, executive, etc.).
Talking to the average doctor (dentist, MD, chiropractor, etc.) or small business owner over the past 18 years, I’ve found that the prevalent “idea” of how gain administrative knowledge or executive skill is through “experience.” Well, let’s see how I’d learn to perform a root canal after learning how to do so through “experience.” “That’s different!” you might say and to a degree you’re right. No one ends up in excruciating physical pain due to lack of administrative know-how. But, you can definitely “hurt” or “kill” your business with this lack of know-how.
Real know-how comes through training. Having this know-how (and practicing it) could be the difference between struggling (or failing) and becoming a wild success.
And, regardless of what you think of this healthcare legislation, I can say with near certainty that this isn’t the last time we’ll experience some type of sweeping reform or change.
As I mentioned earlier, things change. They always have.
You have a choice:
1. Learn the technology of Administration (how to run a business) and prosper, regardless of what’s going on, or
2. Blame whatever cross-currents are rocking society at any given time for the predicament you find yourself in.
Option “1” puts you in the driver’s seat. Option “2” makes you an unhappy passenger.
Through the recent Wall Street meltdown (2008) and “economic crisis” that followed, most MGE clients reported higher revenues, more new patients and profitability. Why? They were trained.
As the captain of their ships they didn’t panic or “cower” in their cabins when the housing crisis, stock market crash and unemployment smashed against the hulls of their ships. They stood on the bridge calmly, guiding their practices on to calmer waters and success.
My advice: quit “worrying” and learn the skills you’ve been missing. Start out with the MGE New Patient Workshop. It gives you a great opportunity to learn more about us, we get to meet you and it comes with a money back guarantee. Take your first step on the road to becoming a trained executive and administrator.
Your future depends on it!
Jeffrey Blumberg provides this general dental practice management advice to furnish you with suggestions of actions that have been shown to have potential to help you improve your practice. Neither MGE nor Mr. Blumberg may be held liable for adverse actions resulting from your implementation of these suggestions, which are provided only as examples of topics covered by the MGE program.