3 Strategic Planning Tips for Your Practice in 2017

December 6, 2016 by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME

Topics: Meaningful Use Stage 2, Practice Management, Medical Billing Company

2016 has been a tumultuous year across the healthcare space: With new changes coming down the pike thanks to programs like MIPS and MACRA – and the impact of the ICD-10 transition still reverberating through the medical billing function – medical practices have faced down a lot of challenges this year… and are ending 2016 on a note of uncertainty, as well.

With a new administration on the way to White House, doctors, administrators, and medical practice managers are bracing for the impact of any forthcoming changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and (of course) the Affordable Care Act. But in the meantime, providers can’t just hold their breath and wait for change – it’s all about moving forward!

As our industry awaits what will certainly be a game-changing 2017, it’s important for provider organizations to invest in establishing strategies to achieve success in the year ahead. As you make strategic plans for your practice this winter, keep the following pieces of advice in mind.

Focus on Practice-Wide Alignment

Take a holistic look at the issues that impact your practice on a day-to-day basis. Are they technologically related? Probably not. Are they somehow your patients’ fault? No. Most often, a medical practice’s most challenging issues – be they interpersonal, operational, or productivity-related – result from chasms between one area of the practice and another.

Whether it’s that your front-office team doesn’t support the back office (or vice versa) or that your clinical staff is disconnected from administration, you should talk to employees to find out where your workforce experiences gaps or divisions. From there, make a commitment to invest in initiatives that better integrate your practice as a business in the year ahead – whether that means working with a consultant, investing in new technology, or contracting with a medical billing service that can better support your team.

Invest in Patient Satisfaction

No matter how well your practice is performing – financially or otherwise – you can always do better in one area: patient satisfaction. Why? Because service is an area of eternal importance to your patients. While their clinical outcomes are your providers’ most important priority, it’s their satisfaction that will always keep them loyal to your practice.

In the shifting landscape of care, your patients’ satisfaction and engagement are also ever-more important to your practice’s reimbursements. Send out surveys and have candid conversations with new and long-term patients to find out what patients dislike about their experience with your clinicians, your administrators, and your organization at large. Then, incorporate measurable improvement initiatives into your 2017 strategic plan.

Think Bigger than Basic

At the end of the year, it can be easy to be lazy when it comes to setting objectives for the future. Some managers approach it in a formulaic way, establishing goals and KPIs only with a mind for incremental, percentage-based improvements to the practice’s existing performance metrics and revenue targets. But is it time to think bigger?

After all, healthcare at large is undergoing huge shifts – making it a smart time to consider if huge shifts should be in your practice’s future, too. Whether it’s joining an ACO, pursuing new payer partnerships, outsourcing medical billing and coding, adding a new specialty to your repertoire, or otherwise, there are many ways to re-think the way your practice operates in a fundamental way. As you build out your 2017 strategy, weigh the pros, cons, and economics of a transformational change… it may be more impactful (and achievable) than you realize.


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