Submitted by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME on Tue, 10/13/2015 - 8:00

Lean Medical Practice Management: Is It Right For You?

Lean Medical Practice Management: Is It Right For You?

Disruptive technological innovation is impacting industries as disparate as manufacturing, finance, travel, transportation, and of course, healthcare. From EHRs, document management to practice management systems, dozens of new products and tools – many built by upstart young technology companies – are changing the face of medical office administration as we know it.

In part due to government incentive programs, practices across the country are increasingly embracing emerging technologies. Yet as our industry begins to adapt to a changing market, it’s important that we learn as we evolve – and the companies that are driving the healthcare industry’s disruption are a fertile breeding ground for lessons on achieving success.

First published in 2011, Eric’ Ries book The Lean Startup has become the seminal guide for tech entrepreneurs around the world. Ries’ lean startup management ethos aims to turn the growth and scaling of a technology company from an art into a science by providing a framework for entrepreneurs to test their hypotheses, meet their customer's’ needs, and stay flexible enough to redirect (or “pivot”) their businesses when necessary.

Naturally, not all of the methodology of lean startup management can be incorporated into medical practice management. But the key principles of the lean startup ethos apply pertinently to businesses across all industries, (as a medical billing company we apply this ethos everyday) … and a vital key to improving your medical billing outcomes is to view your medical practice as a business, not just a vehicle for delivering patient care. Here’s how to utilize several of Mr. Ries’ top “lean” principles for your own practice’s success.

    1. Entrepreneurs are Everywhere

      The term “entrepreneurship” has been around for decades, and it didn’t always call to mind the image of tech developers building apps in their garages! Entrepreneurship is about launching, building, and growing businesses that seize opportunities and solve problems.

      By nature, your medical practice solves problems (i.e., the health issues faced by your patients). But what opportunities is your practice seizing? Consider how you can better serve your community and create new revenue streams by offering additional services. Telemedicine and group visits are some of the ways you can expand your boundaries.

    2. Entrepreneurship is Management

      Lean startup methodology dictates that founders must gear the management of their companies specifically to the context of their businesses, and that applies fervently to the medical office setting as well.

      How much consideration do you give your employees and the unique experience of working for your practice? How much information do you give them on medical practice goals and how their efforts help you meet them (or not)? How are they motivated to help you achieve better financial outcomes? To see improved bottom-line results, it’s imperative that you never, ever neglect to provide your team with strong direction and management.

    3. Build-Measure-Learn

      The fundamental activity of a startup is to build a product, measure how customers respond, and learn whether to pivot or persevere – and the same goes for your practice. Consider a big change you’ve made at your practice in the last year, whether it was a rearranging of your staff, bringing aboard a new physician, or contracting with a medical billing service. How did your patients respond? How did you assess the outcome of your decision? How did you know whether to stick with the new direction or try something else?

      It’s crucial for all medical practices to monitor their data, review their business outcomes, and learn from every one of their decisions. Otherwise, it can be far too easy to spend too much time on the wrong path for your practice.

      Outsourcing your revenue cycle management can be a smart way to make your staff more “lean” and to improve the efficacy of your medical billing operations. Get started now. 

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Topics: Medical Billing, Revenue Cycle Management, Practice Management, Medical Billing Company

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