Ophthalmology Business

FEB 2013

Ophthalmology Business is focused on business topics relevant to the entrepreneurial ophthalmologist. It offers editorial, opinion, and practical tips for physicians running an ophthalmic practice. It is a companion publication of EyeWorld.

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Basics of strategic business planning In virtually every type of business endeavor, the strategic business plan is the business's blueprint for success. It is a fact of business life, in practically every business in the country, except, it appears, among ophthalmology and other medical practices. Most ophthalmologists fail to realize or refuse to recognize that their ophthalmology practice is a business, in competition not only with other, similar ophthalmology practices, but also any other large medical practice or hospital capable of developing its own ophthalmology practice. Simply put, ophthalmology practices that are run like businesses are those that will achieve the most success in this shifting, increasingly changing healthcare business environment. Planning is vital. You must treat your practice as if it were a business. Poor business planning is one main reason businesses and practices fail or are forced to enter into ultimately poor arrangements. Your plan should see into the future. You may not be able to predict specific events, but you should be able to spot trends and prepare for multiple eventualities. Then, when it becomes clear which eventuality will become an actuality, you can make the necessary adjustment without needing to perform a comprehensive analysis, seek funding, and implement change. Preparation is key to a speedy response. If it takes you too long to adjust to a situation, chances are that by the time you do make your move, the situation will have altered, perhaps substantially. Five-step strategic business plan 1. Analysis: Assess your practice and its environment. Determine, for example, your patient, referral, and payer demographics, the prof- itability of your services, and your hours of operation. Identify and study your competitors, area hospitals, area ACOs (existing or expected), and the managed care plans in your region. Find out how the practice patterns and standards have changed. Identify current and potential allies, partners, and referrers. 2. Goal formation: Formalize your personal and practice goals for the immediate and long-range future. Discuss these issues with your partners, if you have them; form a consensus on each point. Appropriate matters to discuss include expansion, downsizing, cost control, merger and affiliation options, revenue expansion, income division, services offered, geographic coverage, satellite offices, ancillary services, and practice management, guidance, and autonomy issues. 3. Development: Determine the best way to get from where you are now to where you want to be. Plan for the next year, three years, five years, and beyond. Make sure your plan is a written document, so nothing slips through the cracks or becomes uncertain over time. Start with a vision statement defining what you want your practice to become and how to make it so. Budget every step, including financing options. 4. Implementation: Do it. Ophthalmologists who just file away their strategic business plan almost always become sorely disappointed and confused, as they cannot understand what went wrong. Typically, the answer is simple: Even the best plan will fail if it is executed poorly or not at all. 5. Monitoring and adjustment: The healthcare environment is shifting rapidly; shift with it. Periodically evaluate your plan to make sure it is working well. If you are not fulfilling your goals, find out what is wrong and fix it. If your local market changes, adjust your plan immediately. At least annually, formally measure the plan's perform- ance relative to steps 1-4. If the plan is not working, make the necessary adjustments. The above five steps give you a basic idea of the strategic business plan process. Remember to tailor your plan to your specific needs, practice, environment, and goals. If this is your first experience with a strategic business plan, it probably will be necessary to have a professional guide you through the development and implementation of your plan. Summary Even if you have no grand and glorious plans for your practice, you should still have a strategic business plan to help you achieve smaller victories and more modest goals more easily and efficiently than you would have otherwise, if at all. Make sure that you devise a plan that reflects the consensus of your partners, is comprehensive, includes funding options, is flexible, and is implemented. Monitor and adjust it as necessary. Remember that, all things considered, if you fail to draw up and implement your own strategic business plan, chances are that some other entity will make your practice part of its own plan. In the final analysis, you and your partners can choose to establish and do your best to achieve your own goals, or you may find yourselves working toward achieving someone else's. OB Editors' note: Mr. Kropiewnicki is a principal attorney with Health Care Law Associates, P.C., and a principal consultant with The Health Care Group Inc., both based in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. Contact information Kropiewnicki: 610-828-3888, mkrop@healthcaregroup.com February 2013 • Ophthalmology Business eZine 15

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