view from the top
Reconciling Profits and Patient Care
Like it or not, your practice can't function
without turning a profit.
every clinical article that discusses a new drug, device, spectacle or contact lens
ends with something like, "Not only is this product good for our patients, it's
also good for your practice and bottom line." The same thing happens in lectures,
"Now that we've discussed the clinical benefits, let's talk about how X can benefit
Optometry's dirty word
Well, as the president of a company focused on
making doctors profitable, let me be the first to say: Not only is money good for
your business, but you'll be out of business without it. And, if you don't focus
on staying profitable, you probably won't be. Yes, in our capitalist society, running
a profitable practice is a necessary event not evil and not something
to be embarrassed about or ashamed of. If you've reached the point in your career
that you're reading this article, you've made a huge investment and taken significant
risks. It's time to be paid back.
we are charged with caring for patients, it's time to challenge the age-old notion
that too simplistically says, "We must put patients ahead of profits." Yes, we must
care for patients and not treat them with products and treatments solely deployed
to make profit. But I propose that instead of following the normally sequential
series of events (patients then profit), we start thinking in terms of profits first.
I'm not suggesting you be mercenary to the exclusion of good care; rather, realize
that if we don't focus on being profitable, we will eventually provide substandard
care. Without money to reinvest in our practices for better-trained staff,
advanced products and technologies we will certainly not be able to provide
the best care.
Is it an accident that some
"trophy" practices, renowned for providing exemplary care, are also the most profitable?
It isn't a question of the chicken or the egg, but a question of being willing to
accept both scenarios: the chicken, then the egg and the egg, then the chicken.
Think it through
Here's one example of how you can put this new
thinking into practice: When you evaluate whether you want to start fitting a new
contact lens, you would generally look at the science first. If you're convinced
that the clinical research is sound and there are physiological benefits, examine
things like pricing, insurance coverage (or lack of it) and profitability.
Instead of this conventional, linear
assessment, approach the new modality from a different perspective. Consider: Will
this new lens fit into your overall business plan? Is it in sync with the image
you want to convey? Finally, will it support the level of clinical care your practice
is known for? If the answer to the first few questions is no, your assessment is
Reading this you may feel backed into
a corner. In our example, what if the science is genuinely supportive, but the profit
picture looks grim? I propose these two events can't happen. If they do, your profitability
analysis was likely flawed. Technology and products backed by solid science that
show genuine patient benefits are always profitable. We've never had a client provide
clinically superior care with a new technology or product and not profit from it.
It just doesn't happen.
The last word
There I said it. Profit is a good thing. And so
is being able to take care of your patients in the best way possible, which you
can only do if you remain profitable.
DR. GERBER IS THE
PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY SPECIALIZING
IN MAKING OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN
MORE AT WWW.POWERPRACTICE.COM OR CALL DR. GERBER
AT (800) 867-9303.
Optometric Management, Issue: January 2006