5 tips to deal with overwhelm in a private practice

1. Confront Your Current Practice Limitations

With private practice ownership already a challenging environment, how do you cope with the sense of overwhelm?  

Sometimes, to solve a problem, we have to go back to the drawing board. In order to solve the feeling of overwhelm, face your fears and problems head-on. 

For instance, if you or your team are feeling the strain of overtime and fewer breaks, take a breather and map out the production capacity of your practice. Are you utilizing the space optimally? Look for underutilization of people or equipment, and consider expanding into an unused room.  

Do the math. Research the going rate for a vet tech, hygienist or optician in your area. Where could you potentially add a team member, and thereby add an additional 5-6 slots to your schedule? Consider onboarding them on a low hourly rate with commissions for sales or productivity to maximize efficiency. Or split into two teams on separate schedules, giving everybody a needed break.

If there seems to be no room in the space to breathe (or see more patients), it might be time to look at moving to a different location.

2. Don’t Try To Be Everything To Everybody

A practice owner who tries to operate as a one-person-band soon burns out and serves nobody. Only by delegating to properly-trained staff can you best serve your patients, and the entire team who relies upon you for their livelihood.

But what about those duties that do land directly and only on the head of the owner? Tackle big piles of backlog work one piece at a time. Don’t try to do them all at once, but instead – work to increase your productivity by focused spurts of a single activity, rather than mixing tasks. While multitasking is often praised, it commonly leads to an uptick in mistakes and overwhelm.

For those duties that are not solely the responsibility of the owner, assign to-do’s in writing to members of the team. Consider adding a due date to those which are long-term and important. 

Put in place systems for communication within the practice. Knock off the “hey you!” attitude, and require employees to put requests in writing.

3. Kicking The Overtime Habit – Efficiency For Busy Practice Owners

If you are used to burning the candle at both ends, it’s possible your practice is not being run as efficiently as it could. Most practice owners are not as skilled at management as they wish they could be. One symptom of that is heavy overtime. 

Working overtime means less work/life balance, quicker burnout, and – when it comes to employees, half-again as much payroll. 

To expand and be prosperous, a healthcare practice needs staff who are willing to go the extra mile and make things go right. But occasionally, the extra mile turns into 5…or 10. And self-care starts to go out the window, which can hurt staff morale, and yours!

4. Handling Burnout In Your Team

Burnout presents you with a real dilemma. Your team needs a break to recoup from overwork, but they can’t leave on time because burnout is making them even less efficient!

How do we solve this problem? 

To begin with, make an assessment of team morale. A written survey is a good place to start: 

Dear Team,

Dr. ___ wants your opinion on certain matters to help handle the clinic. All your answers are confidential. Please answer fully & honestly.

  1. How do you feel the practice is really doing? 
  2. What is your idea of the ideal we are working towards? 
  3. What is being done to achieve it? 
  4. Do you feel we are making it? 
  5. Does anything need to be changed so we can make it faster? 
  6. What do you feel you should know more about to get your job done? 
  7. What do you really need to get your job done? 
  8. What would you like to see us doing?

Once you know where your team stands, it is easier to take things in the right direction. Next, calculate the production capacity of your practice, and determine if there is a better way to organize your employees. Consider splitting into two teams, and determine whether you have sufficient front desk and support staff to balance your technical team.

5. Increase Your Revenue Without Increasing Time Spent

 Another place to look at for inefficiency is your treatment plan acceptance rate. Keep track for a week or two of how many treatment plans presented vs. accepted. Then work with your team on roleplaying, phone script and in-person engagement of patients or clients to increase this ratio.

By increasing your treatment plan acceptance ratio, you can increase revenue without adding additional time into the schedule.

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