Thursday, May 31, 2007
I want to throw my hat into the whole Flea thing. From the perspective of a solo practitioner in the start-up, practice building phase, who depends on positive word of mouth for his own survival, Flea's saga is a public relations disaster. First, he was sued for wrongful death and that law suit became, because of his actions and his actions alone, a very, very, very public matter. Isn't it enough to get sued and have to defend yourself in court. Do you have to announce it to the entire world and give the Boston Globe or NY Times a story? Now everyone of his patients, their families, friends, and referring docs knows that he had a wrongful death. Not the kind of thing you want to actively publicise.
Second, as Eric Turkewics pointed out, he and the defense were caught trying to manipulate the jury. Now this may happen all the time, I don't know. But from a public relations perspective, it doesn't look good for Flea. People don't like to be manipulated and you don't want patients, their families, and referring doctors to think of you as a callous manipulator. Just my opinion.
Third, his entire chronicle of his lawsuit experience was just plain reckless, stupid, and disrespectful and suggests that Flea himself possesses those qualities. He may be a nice guy. I'm sure he is. But only several hundred people, at most, know him as the nice guy-good doc, while several million now know him as the big mouth, reckless, manipulating blogger. And thanks to the Boston Globe, and KevinMD, they know his name.
Word of mouth marketing is the most powerful form of marketing, and when positive, can really help build a practice. When negative, it can kill. I bet Flea's cost him the limits of his liability policy, and probably his practice.
I wish him luck, I really do. And if you are reading this blog, Flea, give me call and I'll help you start over in your new solo practice in your new locale.
Best of luck.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Well, here comes the summer. For most people that means a nice time to kick-back, slow down, and enjoy the weather. For me, it means "summer hours." Unlike many businesses, however, I actually expand my hours in the summer--or at least adjust them--so I can help provide transportation to my daughters' day camps. In the summer, I start my days at ~7AM, take a mid-day break, and start up again in the late afternoon.
My 2 current employees, who have been with me from the beginning, cannot work that early or that late. So I have to hire an additional person. Always a joy! Here's how it went.
I posted a job ad on Craig's List for general office worker, and described the position, the location of the job, the pay, and the essential skills needed. Within 20 minutes of posting the ad, I had ~100 responses, which became 200 by the time I was able to read any of them. Of the 200 respondents, I was able to knock off 180 because they simply lived too far away or lacked transportation. One person said he was from Saratoga, which happens to be 9 hours by car from Smithtown. Maybe he has a plane. Others were from Brooklyn and lacked private transportation. Smithtown is suburban and we really don't have adequate public transportation. Brooklyn by car can take 1 1/2 hours. By public transport; 4 hours.
Twenty applicants were local and thus possible contenders. 4-5 did not attach or post resumes, so I excluded them immediately. One applicant used a computer program to publish her resume that I did not have and I was unable to open the attachment. I suppose I could have purchased the software that she used, but instead I axed her. That left 13 0r 14 resumes to review. Several people had obnoxious or annoying email names, like lovekitten69 or anglestar, so I axed them. I did not want my wife to know that I hired lovekitten69. One person's email address was--I kid you not--2good4U. I thought that was a bit presumptuous, so, by-by.
That left approximately 10 people to call. The phone is an amazing device. Not only is it the life's blood of any business, it is the best, safest, and easiest facilitator of first impressions. So I like to call the applicants personally; get a feel for their "phone voice" and personalties, etc. For 1 or 2 people, I was sent to voicemail. OK, not great, but OK. 1 person had an annoying song on their voicemail greeting. NEXT. I left a message on the other person's and they called back promptly. She seemed OK and had a nice voice and demeanor. I asked her some preliminary questions, she answered them well and I asked her to come in for an interview. Ultimately I called 8 people and brought in 6.
One candidate had 6 jobs in 18 months. Sorry, I won't be number 7.
One candidate was really intense and was, I'm sorry to say, too qualified. There would have
been no way I could have kept her happy, financially, and retained her. Sorry. Good luck.
One candidate said she could only work 2 days a week, after 1PM. Hey, whose hiring who?
One candidate said she could work any hours for the pay I was providing and was flexible in terms of number of hours per week. Not bad. She made round 3.
One candidate said she was flexible with hours but upon further questioning, she would need the schedule a month in advance, because her other job "at the hospital" took precedent.
One candidate could work the hours for the pay and was flexible with the schedule, and spoke Spanish to boot. Therefore, on to round 3.
So I am now in round 3, and round 3 is a secret. But I will say to all the candidates who applied for work in Dr Schoor's office, thanks for applying. Just, in the future, try not to stand out in such a negative way. Especially U, 2good.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
The other day I received a letter from a publisher asking me if I wanted to author a book on male infertility. Actually, the publisher was not given my name and it was not a personal invitation, but a form letter from a mailing list. In any case, I have always wanted to write a book, so I emailed the publisher. He responded immediately and wrote that he would send to me a "packet" in the mail. It came today.
Here is how it works. I sign a contract and then professional writers, with my help, write the the book. My total time commitment would be 15 to 20 hours. All costs for layout, artwork, distribution, etc would be paid by the publishers. And I get royalties. Sounds great! What is the catch?
I have to purchase 1000 books. List price, $14.95 per book. I don't know what the discounted rate would be, probably $10.00 per book.
So there you have it. For $10,000 you too can be an author of a book.
Now the better question: why would I do that? Actually, it is not a bad idea, and the price tag may be reasonable. Being an author of a book, any book, is seen by patients and colleagues as a major accomplishment and helps in the "branding" of you and your medical practice. It helps in "word-of-mouth" marketing--the best type of marketing. It makes you be a true expert. Also, giving out copies to patients can be an effective form of marketing as well.
I'll think about, plug the numbers into Bayes Theorem, and decide.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Unexpected things happen, well, unexpectedly. If you want the least amount of disruption and damage to your practice, drill for these unexpected occurrences. Here are some "fire drills" you may want to do in your office.
1: A fire drill: Do you know where the fire extinguisher is? Is the pin still in it? Has it been used already? To where does the 911 call get routed, an issue with VOIP. To find out, tell your staff you are going to have a fire drill and have one.
2: Computer crash drill: What are you going to do if your computers go down? Simulate it and find out. You'll be surprised regarding the strengths and weaknesses of your systems. What have you backed up and where? Do you know where key passwords are kept? Do you keep key phone numbers on paper. Can you run the office on paper for at least a short time?
3: Phone down drill: The phone is the life-line of the practice and being without one even for a few hours can kill. Does your phone system have back-up call forwarding? Can patients get through no matter what?
4: Patient collapse drill: With VOIP, 911 may, or may not, go to the nearest emergency station. Where does yours go? Try it out, just make sure you tell the operator it is a drill. Also, do have oxygen? An crash cart? Aspirin? Maybe you do or maybe you don't, but you should know what you have and where it is kept.
5: Angry patient drill: Unfortunately, some patients get angry and can make a scene in your office. very disruptive. Roll play different scenarios to figure what works for you and your office in a variety of situations.
That's it. Hope this may come in handy one day.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Hope I helped someone with this post.
Monday, May 07, 2007
- Call back when you said you would
- Run on time
- Call when they don't expect you it
- Open "special" hours, just for them
- Book a referral, such as for a CT scan, for them
- If they are having a problem, squeeze them in today or tomorrow, no matter what
- Have copies of articles you authored and awards in the waiting room
- Keep a copy of of CME certificates in a nicely bound book in the waiting room
Good luck and enjoy the growth.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
- Most people cannot afford auto body work as a cash pay. Most people can't afford health care as a cash pay.
- Most people use body shops that contract with their insurance company to save money. Most people choose doctors in their plan, to save money.
- Some people have collision insurance that allows them to use any body shop, but the deductibles can vary. Some patients have "out-of-network" benefits, though the co-pays can vary.
- Mechanics in the "out-of-network" shops promised me that they would accept my deductible and not balance bill me for any "extra" charges not covered by the insurance. My hand surgeon did this exact same thing. He promised not to balance bill me for the difference between his fee and the 30% of "usual and customary."
- Auto body shops don't waive deductibles. Doctors don't (or should not) wave co-pays.
- Auto body shops wait for the reimbursement checks. So do we.
- The car insurance company publishes a list of sanctioned auto body shops in my vicinity. The health insurance companies do this as well.
- The car insurance company pays the auto body shop a lower rate in exchange for the promise of higher volume and thus more money. Same in medicine.
- Auto body shops need to fix lots of cars in a short time period to make money. Doctors need to see lots of patients in a short time period to make money.
- Auto body shops use expensive tools to help them align parts and ensure that the repair is adequate. Doctors use expensive tools to diagnose and treat disease.
- Some people are not happy with the result of the auto repair. Some patients are not happy with their outcomes either.
- Auto body shops have manuals with standardized parts and labor reimbursement rates. Doctors have CPT and ICD-9 books.
- Contracted auto body shops can't balance bill you. In-network doctors can't balance-bill either.
- Auto body shops that cater to Porches and Ferraris can charge a lot more than typical auto body shops. Plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills can charge a lot more than a general urologist can in Suffolk County NY.
So there they are. It sucks too admit it, but it is true. We are really just glorified auto body shops with $200,000 in education debt and $30,000 plus per year in malpractice insurance premiums. Don't get me wrong. I love what I do and I treat every patient to my utmost ability and effort. I just understand my place in the grand scheme of things.
Sorry if I offended and I hope you enjoyed the post.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
- Keep your existing patients happy (A Must!)
- Mail fliers periodically with new procedures you wish to promote
- Send them business cards or magnets periodically
- Publish a news letter quarterly
- Ask them to "tell-a-friend"
- Direct patients to your blog and tell them to refer others to it.