What Improved Goal Setting Can Do For Your Practice

Author(s): 
By William N. McCann, DPM

     The excitement has been building for months. The whole family has been packing, reviewing brochures, talking about the spectacular scenery and preparing for what they expect to be the vacation of a lifetime. The day of departure arrives and the whole family loads into the packed station wagon for the fun-filled, two-week adventure. Starting down the road, you have a general idea of the direction of your destination but nothing more. Who needs a map? Just head south and ask at convenience stores along the way. The locals are always helpful.

     Would you embark on an otherwise well-planned family vacation under these circumstances? Will a cursory knowledge of direction to your desired location get you there in a reasonable timeframe? Probably not. Yet most of us go through our professional and personal lives with the same lack of direction because we failed to set goals. We have no road map to our destination, no landmarks or mileposts, and no timeframe in which we expect to arrive.

     After years of postgraduate education and training, we believe we are ready to practice and be successful. Then, 10 years later, we wonder what happened. You will blame closed panels, competition, low reimbursement and geographic location. However, most of the time, it was simply a lack of planning, specifically a failure to set measurable goals. We do not plan to fail. We just fail to plan.

Establishing Clear Goals And Objectives

     Do you have a five-year plan for the growth and development of your podiatric practice? Do you have a one-year plan? If the answers to these questions are no, your practice is among the majority of practices that are functioning without a road map. Goals that are in harmony with your core values as a practitioner will carry your practice further than you ever imagined.

     Goals need to be what you want and not what you need. You need to feel personally drawn to a goal and obtain inspiration from it. It is this want or inspiration that drives the attainment and fuels, as you define it, your future success.

     It is important to identify and prioritize goals. One should write a clear, concise description of each goal with a timeline for achieving these goals. The annual timeline requires some simple planning. Typically, Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 is your timeframe with the planning process starting on Oct. 1 for the next year. Set aside time weekly to discuss each defined parameter of the goals for your practice. Have written objectives for each area of your practice in place by the end of December.

Identifying Key Goals In Various Areas Of Your Practice

     You should establish goal parameters in all areas of the practice including but not limited to: financial goals, organizational goals, goals with the services and products you provide, marketing goals, compliance goals, goals with the physical plant (or office) and personal goals.

     Financial. Financial goals usually stem from your annual income. While this parameter is necessary, one must address other financial areas in order to obtain a given salary. Specifically, these areas include gross collections, patient per visit value (PVV) and overhead expenses. Gross collections are simply all practice income in a one-year period. This number will act as the common denominator for all other calculations. Calculate the PVV by dividing the number of patients you see within the one-year period by gross collections.

     Calculate overhead expenses by dividing the sum of all owners’ income by gross collections. The fraction you obtain is your overhead percentage. Therefore, the obvious goals are increasing gross collections and PVV while decreasing overhead. Your job is defining exactly what you expect to see with those numbers. Accordingly, you can set and prioritize goals in other areas that directly influence these numbers.

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