Your Winning Practice Playbook: Part 9 – Mistakes Lose Games

There is a famous Bobby Knight quote that reads, “Victory favors the team making the fewest mistakes.”  His point was, even if you are the better team on the field or court, it is always the team who made the fewest mistakes that win – because mistakes lose games.

Today, we continue on our defensive portion of the playbook.  As I explained last week, it’s not about defending against the offense; instead it’s a mentality, approach, strategies, and systems to be defensive against losing and towards winning.

While there is a long list of mistakes we could outline, let’s talk about the big ones that you want to play defense against.  I would like you to think about these as dominos, meaning that one leads to another which leads to another and on and on.  These ultimately get in the way of your ability to play offense and win the game – the game with each individual patient and the game of the day, week, month and year.

Here’s a big broad example: when you lose a day by falling short of a daily goal, it becomes much harder to win that week and thus much harder to win that month.  One day is a domino that falls against the rest of the month.

Now, to combat this remember that while the time can’t be made up the money can.  So when you do have a day under the goal or even a week with a Holiday or fewer clinical days in a given month – do not make the mistake of treating every day the same.  You can make up ground if you’re watching the numbers.

If you want some extra credit you can go back through our entire Practice Playbook and identify the opposite of every principle of offense for every position which would indicate a mistake that gets in the way of success and makes it very hard to win.

To accomplish this in one Weekly Report I’m going to list out as quickly as I can the biggest mistakes that destroy offense and result in a loss.

We’ll begin “up front” with the Business Team.

Mistakes begin with the obvious… missing phone calls, rushing phone calls, being too busy to do a thorough and effective job with conversations, not making emotional connection, not asking questions instead answering questions, and not setting proper expectations for the patient visit.

That’s a lot of possible mistakes all just from the inception of a phone call.  There are others… letting patients cancel appointments too early, not following up in a timely manner, or delaying insurance claims.

Of course, the big one is schedule control.  Mistakes are misplacing patients in the schedule, shortchanging new patient experience blocks, and putting the doctor in a bind (two places at once) especially when there are offense opportunities to help patients where the strategy has to be carried out properly.

Another big group of mistakes is verbiage as a whole but that applies to the whole entire team.  Using words that lead to negative thinking or poor positioning or bad decision making by the patient.  These are all mistakes that can and must be avoided if we are going to stay ahead and on offense.

When it comes to the “back” and the Clinical Team, there are the big mistakes of not being prepared, being forgetful, being slow, mismanaging time, and being unorganized with supplies or lab cases.

Those are basic fundamentals.  The really big opportunity here is to avoid the mistakes that are detrimental to the offense of the patient experience.  Not being prepared for the doctor by having both the patient and doctor prepared for each other.  Short changing engagement with pictures, proof, and pain.  Then there’s taking poor photographs or no photographs at all.

It is also easy to skip steps like asking the patient about their goals or what they see or what they would like to change or getting them beyond problems into possibilities.  When these aren’t done it is a costly mistake because it inhibits your ability to build value and to stay on offense when it comes to helping the patient achieve complete health.

Additionally, one of the big mistakes for the clinical team is not going to “reasons why” something exists or is important to remedy.  This could be talking about the origin of a problem like the root cause or it can also be about doing a procedure because it prevents problems from getting worse.  Don’t miss the link between what you are recommending to the patient and the reasons why that makes it personal.

It’s the benefits-consequence brought to life.  You want to work hard to “finish the job” when you are discussing and presenting to your patients.  It’s no different than a running back fighting for extra yardage – he doesn’t just assume “we’ll get it next play.”  Never stop short because it can ruin all the progress that you have made.  Bring patient conversations to completion and set your next team member up for success.

For Doctors, mistakes usually come from being too timid or apologetic when building pathways to health with (and that’s a key word, with) patients or they are the opposite by almost demanding dictatorially with patients what they must do instead of making it interactive.

Other mistakes for Doctors, as a very base premise, are underdiagnosing and not doing the complete picture of health following specific protocols every time with every patient.

Often Doctors expect things from team members but then get in the way of the conversation or cutting them off when talking with patients or not involving them in the clinical team triangle.

Doctors usually layout a plan for patients and then undercut it by saying, “We can start here…”  Or saying something is more or less important than something else.  Another costly mistake is when a doctor mentions anything about insurance.

Here’s the thing: none of this is new.  You likely know what mistakes you’ve made in the past.  It’s always about execution and sticking to your core principle by committing to a standard of excellence every day.

We can talk about any of the four pillars from future focused, creation minded, opportunity awareness, or proactive action and none of it matters if you are sabotaging yourself at every turn with these mistakes.

The approach is very simple and straight forward… flawless execution by owning your responsibilities and outcomes; being a team player and collaborative with each other; having a discipline with yourself to be dialed in and focused; and engaging with every patient every time.

Remember, we believe in doing anything that helps the patient get to a yes in belief, vision, value, deserve, clinically, and financially.  

A mistake is anything that goes against that progression, makes it more difficult, or takes the focus away from the patient’s health – our ultimate purpose.

Mistakes comes out in all forms from the pre-experience and patient interview to the records and diagnostics, from the pathway to health and doctor interaction to the way things are presented, paid for, and scheduled.  You can make a mistake at any of these points and it becomes a ripple effect with a compounding impact on your ability to win with your patients.

I challenge you to have every team member, including yourself, take a hard look at their “game film” to review their plays and look for frequent mistakes.  Then go to work on correcting them immediately.  

It’s not just enough to be on offense.  Everyone has to protect the ball, control the clock, play your game, eliminate mistakes, and find ways to win.

You can do this.  You know how to win.  And when you win, the patient wins.  You have no real competitors other than yourself and these are the mistakes that get in the way of you scoring points.

There are a few outside opponents we let in once in a while but it’s not what or who you think.  We’ll dive into how to defeat them once and for all next!

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