Culture Development: Your Most Important ROI
By Pimmie Lopez, MBA, FACHE
Each medical practice has a unique work culture that’s represented by the beliefs, thought processes, and attitudes of its employees, as well as the ideologies and principles of the practice. Staff and providers generally consider the environment of communication in the practice as their work culture. They often describe it as friendly, casual, open door, close-knit, etc. However, this perception represents only a fragment of a practice’s actual work culture. By true definition, a work culture is far broader as it also encompasses the practice’s ideologies and principles.
High performing practices recognize the importance of instilling their ideologies and principles in the work culture. They accomplish this through well-developed mission, vision, and values statements that are both understood and embraced by their staff and providers. In these practices, staff and providers inherently function as a close-knit team and consistently strive to provide optimal patient care.
The good news is that there is no added cost for improving a practice’s work culture, as it merely involves an investment of time and attention by practice management. And, resulting improvements aren’t limited to the financial bottom line. They actually permeate throughout the practice. Noticeable improvements are realized in work output, customer service, clinical care and job satisfaction. Here are five helpful approaches for developing a high performance culture in your practice:
- Purpose Statements – Develop mission, vision and values statements that are specific for your practice, even if the practice is part of a larger organization. The most effective purpose statements are developed through the active involvement of staff and providers. The ideologies and principles of the practice are more clearly understood and supported by participating staff and providers during the development process.
- Benchmarks – Learn the performance benchmarks for your specialty. Extensive production and cost information is available through the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). Compare your practice’s performance to best practice benchmarks and establish improvement goals to be achieved in steps over a reasonable period of time. Provide progress reports to the staff and providers and celebrate successes.
- Engagement – Staff and providers should be actively engaged in practice improvement opportunities as much as possible. By doing so, they not only feel more valued, but they’ll become personally invested and supportive of final decisions. Engagement builds stronger teamwork in the practice.
- Accountability – Performance expectations should be clearly established for every staff member and for each service area. Performance and behavioral related issues should be promptly addressed by the practice manager to ensure that patient service is not compromised and that optimal staff support continues for providers.
- Training & Development – Invest in the ongoing training and development of your staff. They not only gain needed knowledge and skills to perform their work more effectively, but they find their learning experiences particularly enriching, thus contributing to even higher job satisfaction.
The process of culture development isn’t nearly as difficult as it may appear to be and practice managers consider it one of their most rewarding experiences. Simply said, the return on investment (ROI) in time and attention is second to none.