mong the worst myths/excuses out there in chiropractic is the “I am just not good at the business side of chiropractic” line…
Sorry, if I’ve already offended those of you who have stated this (out loud or in your head). But, as chiropractors, we cannot continue to limp along with this mindset.
First, take a look at Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame. What did a twenty-something year old guy know about running a billion dollar business? Nothing – at least initially! Few people are born with an innate business sense. Most, like Zuckerberg, learn as they went along. You can do the same, doctor!
Second, the “business side” of your chiropractic practice is inseparable from the clinical side. I have met far too many chiropractors who are brilliant clinicians who suffer financially and emotionally because their practice consistently teeters on the brink of financial solvency. On the other side of the coin, DC’s who are totally anc completely inept will not have a bankroll big enough to stay afloat no matter how proficient their business savvy. Witness the endless trail of brilliant ideas that fail due to poor delivery. The concept applies to chiropractors in the same manner.
The good news is, today, we are going to dissect this monster so you can begin to address it. “Poor business skills” usually rears its ugly head in one of several areas. My hope is that if you can identify what is wrong, then you are at least on the right path to solving the problem. Unfortunately, too few chiropractors take the time to seriously address these areas, tackling them one at a time. Our business side, for the most part, is a finite skill set that can not only be tackled but MASTERED in a relatively short time period.
Here are the “business side” monsters that afflict most practices, in no apparent order:
- Improper coding. Incorrect coding or using codes that won’t get you paid
- Inefficient billing by employing a biller or service that doesn’t perform and wastes money.
- Poor fee schedule that eats away your profits
- Incorrect collections: Failing to collect for services that you have rendered – whether due to poor internal systems, misunderstanding of the rules or both.
- Ineffective tracking of Accounts / Receivable: If you fail to track A/R and solve its problems, it grows. End result = you are not paid for the work that you do and you are still paying overhead = impending cash flow crisis or lots of wasted efforts
- Inadequate Documentation Codes are correct, bills are appropriate, but nothing substantiates your care so you are not paid – or payers want $$ back
- Illogical Spending – you don’t need every new gadget to be successful. Really. No matter what the vendors tell you! It’s simple: too much going out, not enough coming in = bad business
- Overhead too high – which usually means your fees aren’t enough for your practice style/location and/or you have chosen the wrong business model to deliver your services. Example: Doc practices low volume and charges low fees – not going to work financially!
- Low Referrals Usually due to inconsistent or no systems in place. Example: Doc practices low volume and charges low fees – not going to work! Or high volume, with high fees and can’t figure out why no one refers! Or nothing is consistently done in the office – one week lots of new patients, next starvation.
- Doc must spend lots to get NP’s Again, likely a systems problem and a positioning problem. You can advertise to the wrong market all day and end up with no patients. Unless you are new in practice (<3 yrs), if you are doing a good job, your New Patient problems are more likely the result of your poor internal systems than a lack of marketing or advertising
- No Passive Income Streams. This will ensure that you work harder than you should. Face the facts – unless you want everything dependent on you, additional income streams other than your two hands are needed.
- Inefficient Use of Time. Doc is a procrastinator. Disorganized. Dabbler. Micromanager. Control freak. Internet junkie. iPhone Apps addict. Or perhaps just lazy.(Note: most are not lazy, but poor time management skills will eventually hamper all clinics if unaddressed!)
All is Not Lost
If any of these “poor business skills” represent how you run your practice, take heart – all is not lost!
In fact, out of these major categories, my consulting services focus on the development of sound billing, coding, documentation, collections and business systems. You will notice a curious lack of “New Patients” or “Marketing Wizardry” from the list of my areas of expertise.
That is because, in my experience, if you have developed solid systems in your clinic, learn how to properly get paid for what you do, and run your clinic profitably — there is no need to worry about new patients!
Truthfully, they will be coming in anyway, but your focus will be on maximizing the revenues for services you are already performing, thus lessening the need for constant “new patient addiction.”
If you need assistance in these areas, I am confident that I can help you. And while I can’t control your spending or overhead, I can suggest ways to streamline your practice and make it more cost-efficient. Now that you know that help is readily available, you don’t have much of an excuse to whine to your friends about suffering from “poor business skills.”
You do have a choice. You can continue to limp along and try to figure out a route towards practice success. Or, you can realize that you don’t know it all and be willing to invest a little time and money to enjoy the practice you’ve always dreamed of under the guidance of some expert assistance.
Either way, I wish you success and I do hope our paths cross soon!
P.S. If this article helped you realize that your practice is suffering some sort of chiropractic illness — be it low income, low profits, high overhead, high burnout, poor systems or no systems at all — I would suggest you take my FREE Practice Analysis. There’s absolutely no obligation and my assessment of your questionnaire is absolutely FREE – so you have nothing to lose!
P.S.S. If it’s “live” learning you need, check out one of my upcoming SEMINARS
P.S.S.S. — Ok, last line. What did you identify as your problem? Billing, collections, passive income strategies, office protocols? Check out our products section – we’ve probably got something to address your needs! Don’t worry, I won’t cry if you don’t buy my stuff — fix the problems yourself and we’ll still be friends because I will be happy to here that there is another successful DC still in business!