Saturday, July 5, 2008

Destiny in the Clinic

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Every day a single provider can see dozens of patients pass through the door of a clinic. There are two opposing forces. The wait time get an appointment and the wait at the appointment.

As the schedule becomes tighter and more patients are seen, there is less wait for patients to get an appointment but they are more likely to be kept waiting once they arrive. On the other hand, the more slack in the day the smother the schedule but the longer the wait to get in.

Are we bullshitting ourselves about the true motivation? Is it concern for the patient, concern for ourselves or concern for our wallets? If control of the schedule is held by an administrator do they build it to please the patient or keep the provider from complaining?

While there is no single answer to the question there is a single solution. It lies in good leadership. A good leader will develop noble priorities, provide employees the knowledge and skills to achieve those goals and offer enough autonomy to find solutions. The priorities, therefore, must be developed for the service of patients, otherwise, personal and patient motivations can conflict.

As a leader in an office we should concern ourselves less with motivations and more with the desired outcomes. Creating a list of desired outcomes, from the patients’ perspective, then building a team to fulfill those goals is essential to align conflicted motivations. Working to high quality and service from the patients’ point of view changes the focus from the providers’ happiness to the patients. Too often the opposite is true in clinics. I believe this switch in thought process can be a powerful stimulus for change in efficiency.

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