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Four Business Principles for a Prosperous Future

Wednesday, January 23, 2019 9:00 AM

Expert Advice, Hot Topics

Written by: BSM staff

This month, Ophthalmology Management magazine published an extensive interview with BSM founder and CEO Bruce Maller. In the article, titled “Bruce Maller on the State of Ophthalmology,” Bruce shares his 40-plus years of industry knowledge, covering several topics focused on how ophthalmic practices can set themselves up for business success — now and into the future.

In the Q&A feature, it becomes apparent that Bruce’s success can be partially attributed to his ability to stay true to certain core business principles. We have identified and extrapolated the universal principles covered by Bruce in the interview, complete with excerpts to support their significance. While Bruce was speaking to ophthalmology, these principles are true for and apply to most specialties. Use the following list to help you create a strong foundation to lead your practice or organization into the future.

Principle No. 1 — Know Yourself

Having a clear vision for your practice will enable you to make smart, strategic business decisions by ensuring your actions align with your values. Bruce discusses how clearly defining (and remaining true to) specific values benefits a practice.

Bruce on identity: “The lack of a consistent, strategic approach to running your business is often reflected in the lack of a clear mission, vision and a strong set of core values. Most practice issues or problems could be better managed more effectively if practices took a more thoughtful, organized and disciplined approach. … Generally, you can’t effectively manage people, nor a business, in a reactive, more tactical way.”

Principle No. 2 — Value Others

Patient and staff happiness are not only critical to practice success — they are interwoven. Bruce discusses how you need to cater to patients and staff members, as they are the crux of your business.

Bruce on patients: “It is important to remember we are in a service business focused on meeting and exceeding expectations of patients … Patients are going to want to continue to see you if they feel great about their experience. Their experience is a function of the happiness and satisfaction with the people who work for you.”

Bruce on staff: “This is another factor that differentiates our best performing practices: they invest and strategically look at staff development ... Given the current rate of low unemployment, staff members have many more employment choices today. They’re in higher demand today than they ever were, which puts burden back on practices to make sure that they invest thoughtfully in staff development — not just education and training but also career pathing.”

Principle No. 3 — Plan Ahead

The health care market is constantly evolving. Practices must ensure they remain relevant by anticipating and adapting to any changes that will directly affect their business and operations. Bruce touches on a few current market trends anticipated to affect practices in the near future.

Bruce on expected growth of patient volume: “For practices, the implication really has to do with how to build a more efficient model for patient care that leverages technology and optimizes the MD’s time in a way that they can focus on what they are best able to do. That means educating the team to extend the surgeon as best possible in the OR and in the clinic. This also includes more effective use of optometry and clinical care teams while leveraging the resources that physicians have at their disposal. … Practices with empowered teams and a healthy culture will be better able to figure out how best to find workable solutions.”

Bruce on electronic health records: “I couldn’t imagine as a provider not having EMR at my disposal. … When you’re changing from paper-based to electronic, it’s difficult. But I think it’s more so of how do we optimize or make a good selection to begin with. Then, how do we find a vendor partner who is going to collaborate with us to make sure we’re achieving our internal goals, that it’s a system that makes the patient’s experience good, the doctor happy and the staff happy.”

Bruce on private equity: “If I were an owner/physician in a group, small or large, and had not yet done a transaction, I’d just take a step back and assess my strategic options. Don’t feel like you need to do something tomorrow because the truth is, you don’t. Sit down and go through a strategic exercise of evaluating the group’s vision and values. If the group feels autonomy is absolutely paramount, then you’re probably not going to want to pursue this because you’re largely giving that up. And it’s not just group goals — each partner has to articulate what’s important to him or her because, in the end, it is important the partners reach consensus.”  

Principle No. 4 — Stay Flexible

It is important that practices are able to adapt their business model, as the current environment can, is, and will change. Bruce hints to why remaining flexible in today’s evolving market allows practices to stay relevant.

Bruce on adaptability: “Successful practices have to be nimble, adaptable and flexible. The rate of change in the current world order and what will take place in the next five to 15 years is going to occur at a faster pace than the pace we’ve experienced the last 10 to 25 years because of a confluence of market-based factors. … So, to be aware of and educated about these things is critical. Be adaptable and flexible instead of just staying in your little cocoon and assuming ‘nothing is going to affect me.’” 

READ MORE: To read all of Bruce’s insights on the business of eye care, visit Ophthalmology Management magazine’s cover story “Bruce Maller on the State of Ophthalmology.” Happy reading!

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