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How to Set Goals for Medical Practices

by Dr. Heidi Moawad

A medical practice is based on the fundamental purpose of providing high-quality patient care while taking into account administrative issues such as health-care regulations, payment policies and maintenance of patient records. While managing a practice can provide a challenge, medical practices will thrive when they have clear goals that are shared by the whole team.

Patient Care

High-quality patient care and a positive patient experience represent the most important aspects of all medical practices. Evaluate the patient-care process in terms of these priorities. Goals should include realistic targets that the practice can and should achieve in the area of patient care, such as efficient communication among team members. Goals that enhance the patient care experience can include reducing wait times or providing timely results of diagnostic tests.

Administrative Tasks

Each practice should evaluate the administrative process and formulate goals to achieve its administrative needs. Administrative goals can include developing a streamlined strategy for pre-authorizations or followup on denied payments. Formulate action plans to ensure the proficient performance of several administrative tasks, which include efficient scheduling, communication with other providers, billing, understanding and implementing updates in health policy developments, office management, teamwork among a knowledgeable and caring staff, and maintenance of proper patient records.

Evaluate Practice Aspirations

A practice often has individual aspirations, such as increasing patient referrals or adding a new type of service. New priorities must be taken into consideration when setting goals. The actions needed to achieve new goals should be spelled out, with a realistic time table.

Communicate With the Team

Communication among the patient care and administrative teams is vital. Incentives for achieving targets should be clearly defined as a way to remain focused and on schedule. Cooperation among all staff is required, and it is useful to set a time table and to involve the staff in the goal-setting process by obtaining feedback about whether the goals and actions are realistic.

About the Author

Dr. Heidi Moawad is a neurologist and author of "Careers Beyond Clinical Medicine," a career guide for physicians. Dr. Moawad teaches human physiology and Global Health at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio

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