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Nine Ways To Get The New Year Off To A Great Start For Your Practice

I have been making lists for the past two months, writing down everything I want to change, work on or newly develop in the practice in the coming year. Here are a few items that should be included in most of our year-end professional assessments. 

1. Develop Or Review Your Business Plan 

If you don’t have one this is a great time to sit and write down your goals. If you have a business plan but have not looked at it in years, dust it off and look at what you need to update. Key items may include revenue goals, patient load or staffing needs for next year. Make sure that your plan is aligned with the current goals for your practice.   

2. Set Your Business Resolutions

This is not the resolution we often make about losing weight, this resolution is to specifically lay out what you want for your practice in the coming year. Results should be measurable so this time next year, you can determine to what extent you succeeded in achieving that particular goal. Review what worked for you, what did not and change what is necessary. 

3.  Build A Promotions Calendar

I was not in the habit of doing this until this last year when I received a calendar of topics that journals use to set their publication goals. I then decided to apply the idea to my practice. I sat down with a real paper calendar to look at all the holidays or events that I can build promotions around.  Take, for example, my patient newsletter. I came up with a calendar based on monthly events so I will have ample time to write articles for the newsletter and to plan our social media updates, blog posts, advertising campaigns, etc. For February, it is all about Valentine’s Day so I will look for items relating to this subject to include in all of my media campaigns.

4.  Technology Investments

With the rising costs associated with hiring employees, this may be the best time to look at investing in new technologies, which may allow reduction of full time equivalent staff hours. New technology may increase efficiency, allow for greater patient engagement and/or attract a broader patient population.

5. Conference Attendance Plan

Attending conferences is not only beneficial to gain new knowledge but for most of us, it is required to obtain our continuing education for licensure and board certifications. I not only gain pearls I can use to improve patient care and outcomes, but I meet others in podiatry or related fields whom I can learn from in the business world or for my clinical research endeavors. Of course, meet vendors who may be able to offer additional educational opportunities for you and your staff. Also, by having a plan for the conferences I want to attend in the coming year, I can also plan my budget so I am prepared when the conference registration fee is due or when my podiatry license renewal is due. 

6. Reassess Your Online Image/Brand

Google yourself! It is time to take new pictures of your office, yourself and staff to refresh your image. Are there new opportunities to increase your online visibility without spending a lot of dollars to get the results you want? Then design a plan to reach your online branding goals.

7. Getting Organized Or Regaining Organization

Is your desk cluttered? Is every horizontal surface in your office covered with piles of journals and papers? Are those papers inconsequential or are there lost opportunities because you were not organized, and you missed out on a great seminar or a research opportunity, etc? Set aside a few hours throwing away and shredding things you do not need. Don’t forget about organizing your computer files by year (including contracts with subcategories by year if necessary). It will make things easier to find. I guarantee I always feel more under control whenever I clean my office. Often, I do this when I am starting to feel overwhelmed or feel a lack of control. I find this always opens up new opportunities for me. 

8. Refreshing Skills For Yourself And Your Staff

I use the half days before Christmas and New Year’s Day to offer additional training for my staff as these shorter days are often relatively unproductive. Everyone is in holiday mode and patients are getting too busy to remember or are inconvenienced by appointments. So we use the time to get a head start on HIPAA or OSHA training that we should be doing yearly. This year, we will use the time to develop more skills on our new EMR with the newer available features we have not yet initiated. Also, we will develop a skills development calendar for the coming year to use for self-paced learning through the coming year.

9. Work On Your Reading List

I take this opportunity at the end of the year to build in reading time. Reading podiatry and non-podiatry-related blogs, books, magazines, and anything else I can get my hands on helps me to improve and position the practice as a leader in the field. I often put the business books I want to read on Santa’s wish list so my husband can work with St. Nick, and neither of them have to scratch their heads as to what to leave me under the tree.

Happy holidays to all of my colleagues. I thank each and every one of you for your generous support throughout the year. Hopefully, this blog is my small contribution to making 2020 more successful for us all. Happy New Year! I am excited to see how we all did next December.

Dr. Aung is Chief of the Podiatry Section of the Tenet Health System/St. Joseph’s Hospital and a Panel Physician at Tenet Health System/St. Mary’s Hospital Outpatient Wound and Hyperbaric Center in Tucson, Ariz. She is a member of the APMA Coding Committee, the APMA MACRA/MIPS Task Force and is on the Exam Committee of the American Board of Wound Management. Her website is www.healthy-feet.com.

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