Private practice is no place for perfectionists
My good friend, Donald Buraglio, is PT I met fresh out of graduate school back in my first job as a physical therapist. We worked together at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital down in the lettuce bowl of California, and became friends pretty quickly. A function of common interests which included physical therapy, running, and as I soon came to find, writing, we had a good time at SVMH and have kept in contact since I left back in 2002 to move to Oregon.
I believe Donny is good at most of what he does – he’s a great clinician, an extreme endurance athlete (read about his 100-mile escapades here), and a brilliant writer (Donny writes a column for the Monterey Herald and author’s the award-winning blog, Running and Rambling). If Donny could have been a bit more adept at ferreting out the practical jokes I used to play on him (before he became the punchline) I’d say he’s good at all of what he does. Most of all though, I really do appreciate his writing. He really is a great writer, and for those of you that don’t have the privilege of receiving his Christmas cards I can assure you that his wit doesn’t end where his blog or newspaper column stops.
Unbeknownst to Donny, I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to introduce his blog to the readers of The Healthcare Entrepreneur for some time now. But as he writes about running, and we talk about the business of healthcare, it would appear that an intersection of the two may occur only as often as Venus juxtaposes the moon in some type of beautiful celestial event. Well, stargazers, we’re in luck.
Earlier this month, Donny authored a post called, “You Can’t Be Perfect,” and forgive the pun, but that was the perfect bridge between Running and Rambling and The Healthcare Entrepreneur. In his post, he speaks of one’s inability to be perfect when starting, or maintaining, an exercise or training program. Written in early January, prior to what will soon become countless failed New Year’s resolutions with regard to exercise and weight loss, the theme of the post is simply – it’s OK to not be perfect.
There truly is connection between his theme and ours, as it’s certainly OK to not be perfect business owners too – even in healthcare. In professions as academically and clinically challenging as those we have chosen in a life dedicated to healthcare, there would appear to be little room for error or imperfection. Add on to this the role of a practice owner who has thrust upon herself the responsibility of the care delivered by their staff and their clinical “system,” and you’ve got a whole lot of ways to topple that “perfect” practice.
We’ve found that practice owners who are OK with imperfection have 2 distinct advantages over those who insist that there is no other way: (1) They get more done, and (2) they enjoy themselves a heck of a lot more.
Getting more done equates to more care delivery and higher revenue, and enjoying one’s self results in longevity, improved staff morale, and vastly better sleep. Those who relentlessly pursue perfection – especially in areas that don’t need it – are destined to slow down, get frustrated, burn out, and eventually quit. As you might imagine, this helps no one.
As you’re reading this, please don’t misconstrue my message – there are certainly areas that demand accuracy, precision, and perfection. Patient safety is unequivocally the most important, but areas such as procedural coding, reimbursement, and business performance are certainly no place for sloppy work. Where it’s OK to be less than perfect are those areas that are meant to change and evolve over time – those areas that it’s really not possible to get right on the first try anyway; areas that might include marketing messages, productivity, optimal workflow, and so on.
Areas that are not critical to either the safety of your patients or the immediate viability of your practice, by nature, have a bit of room for error. We obviously want to minimize this error, but we certainly can’t let an irrational pursuit of perfection interfere with our ability to carry out our services in a way that is safe, beneficial, and pleasing to our patients and providers.
So Donny, we made it happen. We found the link between running, rambling, and healthcare entrepreneurship. Thanks for your great inspiration, and I hope the next time Venus approaches the moon perhaps your runners can find something interesting about the business of healthcare.
Tannus Quatre PT, MBA is a private practice consultant and principal with Vantage Clinical Solutions, Inc., a national healthcare consulting and management firm located in Bend, OR and Denver, CO. Tannus specializes in the areas of healthcare marketing, strategy, and finance, and can be reached through the Vantage Clinical Solutions website by clicking here.