Recently I was reading an article in a management magazine. It highlighted some of the challenges faced by a small business when they start.
It could have easily been written about a consultant surgeon starting a private medical practice.
Many small business owners, the article explained, attempt to do everything on their own.
It was therefore common for the business to struggle. A lack of customers is always cited as one of the major issues. A lack of cash and a subsequent disillusionment with the very idea of running a business was also cited as a problem.
This is also normal for a consultant surgeon starting a private practice. It is by any means an easy thing to do.
There is a huge amount to be considered.
It actually happened when I formed MHM too. I was used to ringing IT and having them install a new computer.
As a small business ALL of that had to be done by myself.
I soon realised it was much better to go out and find someone who DID know how.
The first item in the article stated the number one challenge facing a new small business is a lack of clients. Precisely the same situation that a newly established private medical practice faces too.
The second item was a lack of cash.
More specifically the amount of cash actually generated by the small number of patients is not anywhere near what was expected.
Marketing is another area often neglected.
I recollect when speaking to a colleague who specialized in marketing for consultant surgeons, most practices do not have a process in place to utilize the positive experience enjoyed by existing patients to encourage new patient referrals.
Their lack of new patients could be helped by using testimonials from current patients in other words.
A new practice may not have the right marketing strategies (both online and offline) to attract patients consistently.
Instead, marketing is left to drift. My colleague is an expert at medical practice marketing. Yet she suffers from consultants believing she is too expensive to use.
Alternatively, the new private consultant surgeon has a conversation with a colleague. Hopefully, this pays dividends. It does suppose the colleague is maximising his own marketing efforts in the first place.
Precisely the same happens when the subject turns to medical invoicing. Many new private medical practices assume the invoicing – the “accounts bit” – is easy.
It will sort itself out in the end. If it doesn’t they ask a colleague how they do it.
Once again it assumes the colleague is managing his billing correctly.
The paradox is that many consultant surgeons when they first start a private practice are making the same mistake as I did when I started. A vain attempt to sort it out myself followed by frantic phone calls to experts.
After two weeks and a few hundred YouTube videos later, I bit the bullet and called an expert.
It cost me £150 but within ONE day I had all the systems up working efficiently.
The old adage of “if you think hiring a professional is expensive, try hiring an amateur” springs to mind.
Yet many private surgeons, by attempting to manage their own medical invoicing make precisely the same mistake.