Readiness Assessment – 1.2 – Establish a Business Plan

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In this section you will learn about how important it is to develop a business plan for your practice. The most effective business plans are written down and analyzed to better prepare for the future.


Category: Educational
Date: February 26, 2010
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Eric Fishman, MD: In this section, you will learn about how important it is to develop a business plan.


Unfortunately, many physicians neglect to look at their practice as a business. As a result, they do not operate with a strong foundation and therefore, cannot make the best decisions for the future of the practice. Without the proper planning, you will be unable to: measure the success of your practice, establish budgets or create communication patterns.

A business plan summarizes how your practice will operate from a structural standpoint. It is essential to the success of your practice because it defines business processes for your practice. Furthermore, it will have a direct impact on the quality of care that you provide, particularly since quality care in the current environment requires a significant amount of interaction with Information Technology.

So therefore, we recommend writing down and then analyzing your business plan. By doing so you will be able to effectively prepare for the future.

Lindsay Pine: To begin, you must to complete an external analysis. In an external analysis you must: understand and acknowledge health policies, perform a SWOT analysis and analyze community demographics. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and you should have a clear understanding of each of these factors as you develop your business plan.

Voiceover: Healthcare is ever-changing. It is important to align your goals to comply with health policies. In February 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed into law. A large portion of this act discussed improvements within our healthcare system. This portion is known as the HITECH Act. The HITECH Act offers financial incentives to physicians who implement and ‘meaningfully use’ an Electronic Health Record by the year 2014.

Physicians failing to adopt an EHR and effectively report after the deadline will NOT receive incentives and may face penalties.

With this in mind, your practice should accept and make the necessary changes to conform.

With this policy in mind, you will be able to now complete a SWOT Analysis. A SWOT analysis identifies your practice’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Acknowledging where you excel and where you need improvement can help you better develop a marketing plan. In addition, if you understand how surrounding medical facilities operate, you may be able to see opportunities within the market.

Next, you will do research to determine your community demographics. You need to understand the environment in which you are practicing. By gathering the appropriate information, you will be able to effectively determine your specific patient market.

You can find information by utilizing your local library, the internet and looking within your current practice.

Nicole Laws: Once you have performed your external analysis, you have the necessary data to begin your internal analysis. An internal analysis is the most time-consuming part of the business plan.

Voiceover: Establishing your practice’s priorities will help identify what requirements you will need in an EHR.

This includes determining your:

  • Vision
  • Goals
  • Objectives

First, you and your practice must identify your vision. A vision statement is a description of what you would like to achieve in your practice’s future. It will direct your current and future goals.

A goal is an overarching statement that you strive to attain.

Goals can be broken down into three categories:

  1. First, is a short-term goal, which should be achieved in less than 1 year.
  2. Second, is an intermediate goal, which should be achieved in 2-5 years.
  3. Last, is a long-term goal, which should be achieved in 6 or more years.

In order to reach your goals, you will need a series of objectives. Objectives are measurable steps, similar to a roadmap.

Nicole Laws: Now, that you have learned about vision, goals and objectives- let’s hear what the expert has to say.

Andrew Carricarte, President, CEO of IOS Health Systems: The most important thing that a practice can do prior to EHR selection is defining what your objectives are and visions and goals behind why you want to go with an EHR in the first place. Develop the end state and work your implementation cycle backwards in a phased progressive manner in a way that you can get to your end state. Plus being project manager, you do need somebody, a key stakeholder, who is actually going to take control of that process and guide it throughout. And depend on the vendor, the burden is really on the vendor to help provide the ideal process to get you to your objectives and goals. And adapt the software towards achieving.

Eric Fishman, MD: It is critical that you take your time and not rush through the first step of the readiness assessment process. The vision, goals, and objectives greatly influence the practice’s organizational culture.

And, in case it has not yet become clear to you why I implore you to actively engage in this process, let me provide a few examples.

If your vision is to provide the best possible care to your patients, you’ll want to acquire technology that provides for very robust Clinical Decision Support Systems and Evidence Based Medicine.

If your goal is to get out of the office earlier and spend more time with your family, you’ll likely want to consider an EHR that has a reputation for speeding up the documentation process on your patients.


Please note that while these two concepts are not completely mutually exclusive, those who strive for better care will likely be looking at very different technology than those who want to get home earlier.

Understanding your vision and goals is critical to allow you to make the proper choice of software.

Of course the ‘Right Answer’ to these questions is the honest answer that best represents your personal desires.

The problems arise when either:

  1. You are not honest with yourself, and therefore look for technology for the wrong reasons, and
  2. Different physicians in the office have varying Visions, Goals and Objectives.

I strongly encourage you to get to the bottom of any differences of opinion within your office now, before going much further towards implementing an EHR.

Voiceover: You have now completed Chapter 1.2; please continue to Chapter 1.3 to learn about the next step in the readiness assessment process


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