Practice Management News and Views from around the World – March 2013

Too much snow for Scooter

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How Much Information Should You Share With Your Team?

from an article by by Monica Dixon Perry CVPM published online in the VMC.Inc website

We were recently asked to include in our newsletter our recommendation regarding how much information practice owners should share with their team (management and team members alike).

As consultants, we often go into practices and come to the realization that practice owners have managers in place who have never seen the practice’s finances nor do they know how much the team members they are managing are compensated – yet they are called managers. Sharing financial information with your managers is imperative. How can they know where to lead and guide your practice financially if they do not know where your practice is?

Obviously, because of the delicate and confidential nature of your financial information, you should have them sign a confidentiality agreement or contract that restricts them from inappropriately sharing this information. In order for your manager to effectively hone in on opportunities to increase your income and control your expenses, they have to know where your practice is.

As for your team members, I also recommend sharing limited financial information with them. However, it is important that money is not the root of these conversations. Engage your team in such a way that they understand that as long as the patient’s best interest comes first, everything else will come together. Provide them with information that allows them to understand the basics. Yes, the practice may appear to have substantial amounts of revenue coming in, but there are also substantial overhead costs to support your
practice. If they see only one part of the puzzle, they can easily come to the conclusion that the practice owner is reaping major financial benefits when they or the practice are not.

One approach to sharing financial information with team members is by using pie charts and graphs. If you are uncomfortable sharing dollar figures, this will allow you to use percentages. In addition to sharing this basic information, inform them about industry benchmarks and how they can help the practice stay within the recommended range in respect to expenses and, hopefully, to exceed the income benchmarks by providing high quality, consistent and comprehensive care to your patients and clients. By doing so, not only do the patient, client, practice and practice owner benefit from this approach, but so will your team.

Do your team members know the number of new clients each full-time equivalent veterinarian should be averaging per month at your practice? Do they know what your dental income is as a percent of gross revenue and if you are exceeding or falling short of the industry recommendations? Educate your team to what the benchmarks are, engage them in conversations regarding what needs to be done as far as meeting or exceeding those benchmarks, and just like having the best kind of client, you now will have the best kind of
team – an educated and informed one.

You can click here to visit the VMC-inc.com website

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Say Ah…mazing customer service

from an article published online in the OnSwitch Blog

Dental surgeries — nobody’s favourite place. Except maybe dentists’ accountants.

Still, a necessary visit twice a year for teenage son and the purse-holder.

So we turn up for our six-monthly check up and are relieved and maybe even just a little bit smug to be told that our teeth are the very picture of health. But there’s a tiny niggle in teenager’s head — one of his teeth is slightly misaligned. Nobody notices it, it doesn’t cause him any problems, but should it be sorted out now rather than risk regretting it in ten years’ time? We ask the dentist for his advice.

And the dentist gave us his personal recommendation — that we sort it out now with an invisible brace. He’s seen lots of people come to regret not acting when the teeth and jaw are still growing, when it’s quicker and easier to rectify. There’s no pressure at all, no blustering, just an honest opinion, which is exactly what we asked for. We say (with a straight face) that we’ll chew it over.

The next day at home, a letter arrives, addressed to teenage son. It is from the dental surgery, setting out exactly what the dentist recommends, and detailing costs. £3000 worth of costs, so we sit down and think about it.

We quite quickly agree that for lots of reasons, teenage son does not need to be dealing with a brace right now (phew!). So we decide to leave well alone. After all, he doesn’t mind his slightly wonky tooth at all and it’s not causing any problems.

We forget about it and get back to the task of finalising plans for the Onswitch A-B charity bike ride. But then the surgery ring, a wonderfully polite and understanding receptionist asks whether we got the letter and what we are thinking of doing. Again, no pressure, just a genuine desire to help provide the best care to their clients. We discuss the reasons why we’ve decided not to go ahead.

“That’s fine, we understand. I’ll put a note on his file and we can have a chat again at his next visit in six months.”

And that’s it. Brilliantly simple, caring customer service.

How many vets follow up recommendations in writing, with estimated costs?

How many vets give a clear recommendation come to think of it, but that’s another blog altogether!

We think it’s a great idea, and as clients we valued the clarity of advice just as much as we felt that they understood our emotional reasons for not going ahead. So guess what, we’re recommending this lovely dentist to everyone we talk to: http://www.oasisdentalcare.com

You can click here to visit the Onswitch.com website

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Walking the Tightrope of Work/Life Balance

from an article by Meg Nash published online in the MyEVT.com website

“I have to justify every minute I spend not doing something for someone else.” If this sentiment rings true, you’re not alone. Whether it’s called burnout or stress, veterinary professionals will likely experience it during their careers.

In Finding Balance in a Medical Life (Finding Balance, Inc.; 2007) author and physician Lee Lipsenthal, after 3 years in practice, found his routine unexpectedly challenging. “The routine was killing me. By external standards, I was a success. Yet I was in a state of panic and depression from being simultaneously overworked and bored to tears.”

In his book and on his website, Lipsenthal shares insight and the tools for finding life balance developed specifically for healthcare professionals. “By nature,” he says, “healthcare professionals are intelligent, caring, inquisitive, and sensitive people. We are also competitive, obsessive, perfectionist, and compulsive,” characteristics that are necessary to succeed in both human and animal medical training.

Secrets of Satisfaction

Lipsenthal explored meditation, Eastern philosophy, emotional intelligence, and neurophysiology before realizing that he was burning up energy complaining about his life and practice rather than enjoying them. Lipsenthal’s keys to achieving balance in a medical life include:

  • Family. Healthcare professionals who have multiple life roles, such as raising children, are actually happier in their careers, perhaps because they don’t have the time to dwell on problems in the practice. Doctors with young children may also take on fewer “meaningless tasks” and limit their obligations. The ability to say “no” can enhance your sense of balance.
  • Spirituality. Regardless of your spiritual path, a sense of connection with community and a greater purpose can help you keep the motivation that probably compelled you to pursue your veterinary career–doing good for others. A word of caution: Don’t try to be in charge of everything. You have enough responsibility in your life already. Just enjoy the sense of belonging.
  • Work environment. If you stay late at work almost every day, odds are that you are discontented. (Please see the Work Addiction Risk Test) If you feel your job takes more hours than you want then your expectations are not being met and you won’t be happy. Lipsenthal states: “Change your job or your expectations, whichever seems easier…If you are unhappy about your work scenario, remember that you had a hand in creating the environment.” Don’t fall into the trap of killing yourself by doing good.
  • Resist overcaring. Are you losing sleep over a treatment decision? Self-doubt is often the real driving force of overcaring: “Am I a good enough doctor?” Getting a good night’s sleep and arriving at work refreshed and ready to reevaluate your patient is more productive. Caring is making the best choice for you and the patient, Lipsenthal says. Overcaring leads to poor choices for you both.
  • Remember, it’s not all about you. When you project your self-involvement onto another person, it’s known as central positioning, a common fault of type A personalities such as veterinarians. How, for example, do you react when the person in front of you in the express lane has more than 10 items? “Doesn’t she realize I’m busy, that I’m a doctor and have important things to do?” Lipsenthal says the stress from such reactions can lead to a heart attack, while the person in front of you will leave the store feeling just fine.
  • Stop hurrying. Chronic lateness can result from extreme multitasking. For example, if you have 10 minutes before an appointment, do you take on another task, which ends up taking 20 minutes? It would be better for you to take advantage of the time to reflect.

It takes time and discipline to achieve life balance. Using the techniques in Finding Balance in a Medical Life to tend to your own physical, emotional, and spiritual health is well worth the investment.

Meditation Exercise

Meditation can lower your blood pressure, quiet anxiety, and make life more enjoyable by diminishing the “internal noise” in your system. Lipsenthal introduces this 5-minute meditation.

    1. Start by concentrating on a raisin. (If you don’t like raisins, substitute another piece of fruit.)

    2. Pretend you are on a scientific expedition and just discovered this previously undocumented object.

    3. Describe the raisin in writing.

    4. Draw the raisin as if you were documenting it for the scientific community.

    5. Smell the raisin, try to detect subtle scents like you would at a wine tasting, and write down your observations.

    6. Put the raisin in your mouth, between your back molars, and document your sensations.

    7. Chew the raisin slowly and completely and roll it on your tongue. Write down the flavors. Close your eyes and swallow.

Was eating this raisin a different experience? Slowing down and studying the experience makes it more meaningful and distracts you from other thoughts. This is meditation.

You can click here to visit the MyEVT website

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Vet Exchange — together we’re better

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VetExchange was formed in 2012. Its purpose is to develop a range of services to strengthen communication and support between the pharmaceutical industry and the veterinary profession through a single pathway. Our mission is to bring all the industry’s training provision onto one site so that our members can access the complete range of continual personal development (cpds) approved by the industry at a glance. Furthermore, we propose linking directly related cpd to a product so that members can request further vital information. They may also request a visit from a representative or purchase a trial version of the product.

In addition to these services, we also supply a range of specific training modules supported (where possible) by industry clients; the first is currently offered by Brian Faulker Bsc(Hons) BVM&S MBA MSc (Pscych) GPert(B&PS) MRCVS called the ‘Colourful Receptionist’; this service is called ‘Training Station’.

‘Seeking and Wanted’ offers our members an alternative method of advertising their vacant posts or looking for a new position. This service is a simple, quick and effective way of highlighting current posts and the availability of staff and is offered completely free to all registrations. ‘Rep on your Doorstep’ offers a unique service where our members can connect quickly to a representative via phone or email and order client leaflets at a touch of a button.

Another unique service called ‘Vet Exposed’ offers specialist surgeons around the country the opportunity to profile their specialities, history and services offered through their respective practices. This provides specialists with an opportunity to widen their exposure and interact with other members through the ‘Ask the Expert’ scheme.

“Have your Say” offers our members a simply method to contact a technical department within a pharmaceutical company to report an adverse reaction to a drug. Furthermore, all members will be able to fill out a SARS report and link directly to the VMD. Should members also wish to get in touch with us they can do so through a simple form on this page.

In addition to these support services, we also offer ‘The Vet Exchange’ – a free ads service at no cost allowing all members to upload both unwanted practice items or personal items, ‘BookShop’ — offering an excellent rate of discount on technical veterinary publications, ‘Up and Coming’ – an events page listing all national and local events given to us, ‘Competition Ring’ – a service whereby industry can advertise all their competitions onto one site therefore allowing practice members the opportunity to enter as many competitions as they wish and increase the number of applicants for the industry and ‘Sponsor Me’ – an alternative way for our members to attract sponsorship.

The long term objective for VetExchange is to build a closer relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and the veterinary profession; to build a better understanding between the two bodies in terms of each others requirements; and for industry to offer the profession further support in new and exciting ways i.e. specific training and assistance.

In November 2012 we attended the London Vet Show to a wonderful reception from all those that joined us on our stand. Following some highly acclaimed responses not only from potential members but also our competitors we feel that the services of VetExchange can only grow to be more successful. In addition, we became a media partner for the London Vet Show which we hope to continue as we build our relationship with the congress.

Over the coming months we hope to be able to include further useful services that will allow our members to look into different insurance services, marketing services, manufacturing and pharmaceutical product offers and through “Around the Corner” we hope to offer an early insight into some of the newest products coming onto the market.

You can click here to visit the Vet-Exchange website

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12 Tough Truths that Help You Grow

As you look back on your life, you will often realize that many of the times you thought you were being rejected from something good, you were in fact being redirected to something better. You can’t control everything. Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that things will work out. Let go a little and just let life happen. Because sometimes the truths you can’t change, end up changing you and helping you grow.

Here are twelve such truths…

  • Everything is as it should be. It’s crazy how you always end up where you’re meant to be — how even the most tragic and stressful situations eventually teach you important lessons that you never dreamed you were going to learn. Remember, oftentimes when things are falling apart, they are actually falling into place.
  • Not until you are lost in this world can you begin to find your true self. Realizing you are lost is the first step to living the life you want. The second step is leaving the life you don’t want. Making a big life change is pretty scary. But you know what’s even scarier? Regret. Vision without action is a daydream, and action without vision is a nightmare. Your heart is free, have the courage to follow it.
  • It’s usually the deepest pain which empowers you to grow to your full potential. It’s the scary, stressful choices that end up being the most worthwhile. Without pain, there would be no change. But remember, pain, just like everything in life, is meant to be learned from and then released.
  • One of the hardest decisions you will ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or take another step forward. If you catch yourself in a cycle of trying to change someone, or defending yourself again someone who is trying to change you, walk away. But if you are pursuing a dream, take another step. And don’t forget that sometimes this step will involve modifying your dream, or planning a new one — it’s OK to change your mind or have more than one dream.
  • You have to take care of yourself first. Before befriending others, you have to be your own friend. Before correcting others, you have to correct yourself. Before making others happy, you have to make yourself happy. It’s not called selfishness, it’s called personal development. Once you balance yourself, only then can you balance the world around you.
  • One of the greatest freedoms is truly not caring what everyone else thinks of you. As long as you are worried about what others think of you, you are owned by them. Only when you require no approval from outside yourself, can you own yourself.
  • You may need to be single for awhile before you realize that, although the co-owned belongings from your failed relationships might not have been divided equally, the issues that destroyed the relationships likely were. For how can you stand confidently alone, or see the same issues arising in your newest relationship, and not realize which broken pieces belong to you? Owning your issues, and dealing with them, will make you far happier in the long run, than owning anything else in this world.
  • The only thing you can absolutely control is how you react to things out of your control. The more you can adapt to the situations in life, the more powerful your highs will be, and the more quickly you’ll be able to bounce back from the lows in your life. Put most simply: being at peace means being in a state of complete acceptance of all that is, right here, right now.
  • Some people will lie to you. Remember, an honest enemy is better than a friend who lies. Pay less attention to what people say, and more attention to what they do. Their actions will show you the truth, which will help you measure the true quality of your relationship in the long-term.
  • If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough. If you are thankful for what you do have, you will end up having even more. Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold; happiness dwells in the soul. Abundance is not about how much you have, it’s how you feel about what you have. When you take things for granted, your happiness gets taken away.
  • Yes, you have failed in the past. But don’t judge yourself by your past, you don’t live there anymore. Just because you’re not where you want to be today doesn’t mean you won’t be there someday. You can turn it all around in the blink of an eye by making a simple choice to stand back up — to try again, to love again, to live again, and to dream again.
  • Everything is going to be alright; maybe not today, but eventually. There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong. And you might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t. Sure the sun stops shining sometimes, and you may get a huge thunderstorm or two, but eventually the sun will come out to shine. Sometimes it’s just a matter of us staying as positive as possible in order to make it to see the sunshine break through the clouds again.

You can click here to visit the Marc and Angel website

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