Medical Practices: How to avoid “paralysis” when making key decisions?

How many times have you wanted to improve some aspect of your medical practice but, for whatever reason, were unable to take the necessary steps? How many times has a staffer come to you with an idea and been told, “Okay, let me think about that.” But, rather than decide, the hectic nature of running a busy practice has delayed your response.

Common causes

There are likely two aspects of this phenomenon: The first is “analysis paralysis,” which is basically when you overthink — or have so much information coming at you that you never pick a solution or decide to act. The second is “decision paralysis,” which happens when you know what needs to be done, but don’t actually do it.

One solution for both kinds of paralysis is to get over the fear of making a wrong decision. Medical decisions can be life or death, but business decisions rarely are. A “best-case scenario” for a business decision is that your practice grows and more revenue comes in. Even if the best-case doesn’t pan out, generally you’ll be able to backtrack and try a different approach.

Helpful strategies

To help you combat paralysis, try the following strategies:

Make time for business decisions. Set aside time in your week for decision making about medical procedures, financial management and strategic planning. Alternatively, if your practice is large enough to allow for this, designate one or more physicians to be responsible for the business side of the practice, and adjust their schedules (and possibly the compensation system) to make sure they have the necessary time and reward for performing this function.

Be systematic yet flexible. Make lists and set up procedures, but consider the human side of any changes: Actively foresee how the changes will affect the people in your practice.

Start at the top. You must be the first person to embrace any new changes.

Involve, and listen to, staff. Staff members often have the clearest ideas on how to make constructive changes for the practice — and how to improve the functioning of their own positions.

Formalize it in writing. A codified policy that everyone can cite will help avoid problems and resolve disagreements.

Create ownership. Get “buy-in” for major changes from staff and other physicians.

Communicate. Speak to your staff one-on-one on how their jobs will change and why. Be as honest and straightforward as possible. Many staffers might fear change because they’re afraid they can’t handle the new responsibilities. “Up-train” as necessary and reassure everyone of your confidence in their abilities.

The right balance

Being too aggressive with changes to your practice can cause confusion and resentment among your staff. If you’re not aggressive enough, however, the changes may not happen at all. These strategies are simple, but they can help you find a balance and make improvements successfully.

If you have any questions, please contact Deirdre Hartmann, CPA or Harlene Stevens, CPA at (973) 298-8500.

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