I am honored that EDGE Direct is giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts on business processes with the O&P community. Many of you know me from my time at ABC when I ran the Facility Accreditation program, or from OPIE Software, where I now run the practice management network, OPIE Choice. You know that this is a profession that inspires me. The difference we make in people’s lives is incredible. But for the most part, we are not taught practice management in O&P schools, so we learn it in the school of hard knocks.
I have often heard that one of the most significant factors influencing the profession was the development of ABC’s Facility Accreditation program. It created a set of standards for the provision of O&P care and set us on the course to professionalism. It is important to recognize that many of the standards that were created are crucial to running a successful practice today.
I was talking with some of my friends who understand O&P practice management, and in particular, effective leadership. As we discussed the importance of communication in leadership, we came around to the simple truth that the root cause of almost every practice management misstep comes down to a lack of clarity about the company’s vision and mission. You surely know that the accreditation standards specify that you have these, and truth be told, I did not appreciate how important they are way back then.
It is impossible to move your business forward if you have not defined forward. We define our business direction though our vision. Everything we do should be attuned to that vision, otherwise it is hit or miss. Sometimes, in a non-challenging environment, we can be successful by being lucky. But is that really how you want to run your business? Livelihoods, and maybe even your retirement, rely on your success. Would you create a care plan for your patients without a goal?
As we round out the first quarter of 2021, we are in for some tough times. COVID still reigns supreme. It looks like a trying economic environment is upon us (more on this next month). The need to strategically manage your business has probably never been more important. How do you prepare for uncertainty? What can you do to reduce your risk?
Speaking of risk, I hear almost weekly about another O&P facility being hit with a ransomware attack. We should all be able to take those in stride because everyone uses best practices, right? The sad truth is that for most, the simple things that you can do to mitigate risk do not become priorities because managing the practice is not given the same priority as managing the patient. But guess what? Without the practice, there are not patients to manage.
There is a lot that goes into practice management, and just like patient care, it takes a team. A coordinated team. And as the owner, the people who work for you to deliver those fantastic outcomes deserve your attention. You should be looking out for them as much as they look out for your patients. And you do that by building a stable, secure business that allows them to care for their families, anticipating challenges and responding to them to maximize your company’s viability.
It takes a coordinated team of people who have a singular clarity of vision to execute your plan and to take steps to mitigate risk, wherever it comes from—to pay attention to your business and purposefully manage it, the way you purposefully manage your patients and work to mitigate the risks they face.
The first step is always the hardest. Come out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to learn how to take your company to the next level. How do you clearly communicate your vision for your company and then hold people accountable for achieving that vision?
Scott Williamson, CAE, MBA, is the president of Quality Outcomes and the executive director of the OPIE Choice Network. He can be contacted at [email protected]