Practice Management Blog

5 Steps to Building an Empowered Health Practice in 2021

Transition from working IN your business
to working ON your business.

It’s a new year, arguably the best time to make the changes that you’ve been putting off for months.

Let’s all agree to leave 2020 in the past. While there are definitely some good things that have come from it, for many, it has been one of the hardest years. It might help to reframe 2020 as an important learning curve that will enable us to look forward to a brand-new year full of possibilities. While COVID is not completely behind us, there is a lot to look forward to as we adapt to new ways of doing business and learn how to run a successful healthcare practice in 2021.

As with the start of all new years, it’s an opportunity to think about what you want for your practice, your clients and yourself. With a fresh perspective and energy, you can tackle the changes you need to make.

New year, new you.

If you’re serious about making the move from working IN your business to ON your business when running a health practice, you can download our free Freedom Workbook and work through it step by step.

The concepts in this article are covered in more detail in the workbook. Think of it as a fully actionable guide to help you make the changes you need in your practice.

Freedom Workbook

Ready to get started?

Get yourself a cup of coffee and settle in…

Step 1 – Take Stock, Step Back and Look at the Big Picture

You can’t get to where you’re going if you don’t know what your destination is, or where you are now.

If you’re honest with yourself, your practice probably isn’t running quite the way you would like it to. Many health practice owners find themselves busy all day seeing clients, while evenings are spent catching up on admin. You really want to grow your practice, but you have no time for marketing, let alone a holiday. And is it possible that, even though you’re crazy busy, you don’t seem to be very profitable?

You know things need to change, but where to start? You don’t have the time to recruit a new team member or train them. You might not even have systems in place where they could slot in.

Is this what you imagined when you were starting out? Where is the freedom, where is the fun?

Actions to take:

a) Describe the practice you want to build and why you want to do it

To find your purpose and set goals, you need to know what motivates you. To get a clearer idea of what you’re working towards, try answering these questions:

  • What do you want from your practice?
  • What do you love about your practice?
  • How many hours would you like to spend seeing clients every week?
  • What income level are you aiming for?
  • Is flexibility in your working hours important to you?

b) Conduct a task and time audit

Monitor how you currently spend your time and look specifically at how much time you spend on tasks that are:

  • Client-facing;
  • Marketing-related;
  • Administrative in nature.

Also, note down any tasks you think you should be doing, but don’t get around to (and put zero hours down for these).

Step 2 – Create a Freedom Roadmap

This is where you start defining where you want to go.

For each of the activities that you have listed, identify where they fall on your value matrix. High-Value activities are ones that only you can do, that you have special talents for, and that add a lot of value to your practice. Conversely, Low-Value activities are those that relatively less skilled people could do (potentially), that you have no special skills for, and that add less value to your practice. Love activities are those that give you energy – you truly enjoy doing them, while Hate activities are those activities that you procrastinate because you don’t enjoy (or even dread) them.

Actions to take:

Based on your assessments, you can then classify your activities into a table with Hate/Love on the x-axis, and High Value/Low Value on the y-axis.

  • Tasks that are in the high-value, love quadrant you should seek to master.
  • Tasks that are in the high-value, hate quadrant try to delegate.
  • Tasks that fall into the low-value, love quadrant, you can automate, and
  • Tasks that are in the low-value hate quadrant you can try to eliminate.

a) Master

Focus your time here! This is the source of your greatness!

Examples include:

  • Seeing clients (if you love it);
  • Some marketing tasks;
  • Thought leadership;
  • Staff management;
  • Planning;
  • Business development.

b) Delegate

Hire people for, train existing team members in, or outsource.

Examples include:

  • Cleaning (with a checklist);
  • IT;
  • Practice maintenance (with a checklist);
  • Admin;
  • Accounting;
  • Client service.

c) Automate

Put better processes and systems in place to be more efficient.

Examples include:

d) Eliminate

Get rid of or minimise these tasks as much as possible.

Examples include:

  • Unnecessary steps in practice management;
  • Ineffective marketing initiatives;
  • Some administrative tasks.

Step 3 – Develop a Plan for the Next 12 Months

It’s time to work out how you’re going to get to where you want to be, and that’s where a plan of action comes in.

Now that you have all your goals and tasks listed out, you might be thinking to yourself that you are a long way from making it happen.

Actions to take:

Look at the tasks you’ve allocated into the different categories of “Automate”, “Delegate” and “Eliminate”, then start assigning realistic timeframes. Look at the most important tasks and consider tackling those first. You might want to choose a task that is a bit easier to do, or you could start with one that will make a big difference.

Either way, break down the year into the first 1-3 months, then 4-6 months, followed by 7-9 months and, finally, 10-12 months.

Step 4 – Get Practical and Decide How You Will Make it Happen

Look at the tasks in your 1-3 month timeline, what steps do you need to take to delegate, eliminate or automate them?

Actions to take:

a) If you’re looking to delegate tasks, you may need to:

  • Define a position or role;
  • Research where to hire virtual assistants;
  • Research outsourced reception centres;
  • Create checklists and procedures in the Practice Operations Manual;
  • Train staff or outsourced resources.

b) If you want to automate tasks, you will need to:

  • Research systems or tools that can accomplish these tasks (ask others, search online, etc.);
  • Learn how to use these tools;
  • Define new processes (use checklists and batch tasks).

c) For tasks that you need to eliminate, you will have to:

  • Define how these functions will be replaced (if at all);
  • Learn how to do this;
  • Define a cut-off date.

If you’re going to succeed with this, you need to decide when you will work on these tasks. Set aside time and mark it off in your diary (in Power Diary, these can be set as recurring Personal Appointments).

If you haven’t had any free time before, it’s not going to magically appear unless you make it happen. The best way to think about this is to treat the time like a client appointment that cannot be moved. Ideally, you do this within business hours, but if it has to be after-hours, just make sure it’s still focused time. Even the smallest amounts of time, done regularly, will help you get where you need to go.

Step 5 – Get Serious and Get Going

You may have downloaded the Freedom Workbook and quickly flicked through it, focusing on a couple of key areas of interest that you can apply to your practice.

But it’s not enough to just read through the manual; you need to be a doer!

As Courtney C. Stevens writes in her book The Lies About Truth, “If nothing changes, nothing changes. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting. You want change, make some.”

Print out the workbook,
answer all the questions,
complete the exercises, and
take action.

Actually, make your plan and take action on your plan during the time blocks you’ve allocated. Go back to your “why” and remember the type of practice you’re hoping to build and why that’s important. Get really disciplined about guarding your time blocks and using them to work ON your business. Even if it feels like a small amount each week, these time slots are the key to gaining FREEDOM in your practice, and ultimately, the lifestyle that goes along with that.

These five steps can help you make 2021 the best yet, but you have to put in the hard work. Don’t let this year be another one of stress and struggle as you race around putting out fires, always working in the business instead of on it.

freedom book

At Power Diary, we’re passionate about supporting practitioners as they build empowered practices. So much of what it takes to grow and thrive in private practice is centred around the principles of:

  • Strong finances,
  • Positive client outcomes,
  • Robust processes,
  • Growth,
  • Work/life balance, and
  • Minimal admin.

As you work through the steps we’ve outlined above, consider at every stage how practice management software can streamline and simplify the way you run your practice. We’ve built and continue to develop Power Diary on the basis of these principles because we understand that there’s a lot more to success than seeing clients.

The reality of running a practice can be overwhelming as you struggle to stay on top of clinical notes, invoices, referrals, your waiting list, appointment reminders, letters and correspondence, Medicare and insurance claims and account management (to mention a few).

But, if you have a system that is focused on helping you spend less on admin, increasing profitability, removing things that don’t add value, and automating wherever possible, you can start to see the bigger picture as you are empowered to run a successful practice.

Here’s to 2021! We at Power Diary look forward to celebrating your successes as the year unfolds.

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