It takes a village to raise a child. If you’re a practice owner like me, your practice is your child (or at least one of them!). As hospital owners, we’ve honed the skills necessary to run a hospital and assumed not only the financial risk of owning a practice, but also the emotional burden that comes along with knowing we’re ultimately responsible for the patient, clients and staff in our hospital. As an owner you can bear sole responsibility for attempting to adequately bring your child into adulthood or you can choose to hear the wisdom in the adage, “It takes a village…”
I recently spoke with a veterinarian practice owner who was lamenting that he had a clear vision for his hospital but felt like he was going it alone. He felt that the staff did not understand the compliance metrics of the hospital and therefore were not involved in the childhood development of the hospital as it ventured on its road to maturity. The team preached best medicine and client education but lacked a grasp on what that actually looked like and how to objectively measure it. As my colleague and I brainstormed strategies to overcome this hurdle, we agreed that we first had to define the compliance metrics that mattered to us. I’ve seen too many hospitals chase trendy metrics without putting them in context. To avoid this dead end and get your staff on board with compliance metrics, consider the following five-step process.
Step 1: Tie metrics to your hospital’s why
If you haven’t sat down with your entire hospital staff to determine why you do what you do and your mission, start here. A great resource to get you started is Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, or the accompanying book, Start with Why. Until you determine a common set of values that drive your why, metrics are just numbers that either mean nothing to your staff or, potentially worse, only equate to dollar signs they assume end up in your pocket. Creating a clear and concise why not only helps your staff feel like something bigger than themselves, but it also helps them understand the value of metrics as signposts on the journey to achieving their why.
Step 2: Determine your metrics
[bctt tweet=”Once you’ve determined your why, review metrics that reveal your commitment to it.”] One of our client hospitals preached best medicine, but had no systems in place to track their own delivery of it. We started using VetSucccess’ Preventive Care Snapshot to fact check our level of medicine and the results were eye-opening to say the least! Some of the metrics we were already tracking through the hospital’s PIMS were included, but the snapshot saved us the time of having to run individual reports. It also revealed metrics we hadn’t even thought to track, but when we analyzed how they fit our why, we added them to our toolbox. For example, one significant missed opportunity was as simple as fecals.
Step 3: Define the 4 Ws
[bctt tweet=”Whether it’s my own team or a client’s team, we don’t launch a new initiative without determining the 4 Ws:”] Why are we doing this? What exactly needs to be done? Who is responsible? Which metrics do we use to determine our success? Whether you use the 4 Ws or a different protocol, we all know how busy things get at the clinic and it’s easy for projects to fall through the cracks without a system for accountability.
Step 4: Establish a baseline
Every time I speak at a conference I’m floored by how many hospital owners don’t know their own compliance numbers, let alone their staff knowing the numbers. Most of us are competitive by nature, even when we’re competing against ourselves. Establish a baseline by determining the period of time you want to focus on a particular metric and then run numbers from the same period the year prior.
Step 5: Create a plan and track your progress with your team
This step is where many hospital owners fall into the trap of top-down management. Leverage your team. Assuming we’ve done our job as leaders and collaborated with our staff to determine what’s important to our hospital and why, now is the time to solicit their help in creating a plan to deliver it. We recently did this with parasiticides at one of my hospitals and the team did a great job of helping set goals, establishing a prize (incentives are a whole other topic, but whatever you choose should fit the “appreciation language” of your staff) and creating a roadmap, including staff and client education, to help us achieve those goals.
Track your progress using objective, measurable metrics. Whether you utilize a whiteboard, graph or internal message board, be sure to monitor the data, and then publicly, with your team, celebrate progress and acknowledge, then address, challenges.
Celebrate success, then focus on your next goal
Compliance metrics are so valuable because we’ll never achieve perfection. Whether you benchmark against industry averages, a management group or your own numbers, [bctt tweet=”there is always opportunity to improve metrics.”] Celebrate each success and then identify the next goal that ties in with your team’s why.
It takes a village to raise a child and best medicine is a team approach. Compliance metrics allow us to engage our team in a mission that matters to them, objectively practice better medicine and, ultimately, build a healthy business.
Stith Keiser is the Chief Executive Officer for Blue Heron Consulting. He and his team of veterinarians, hospital owners and managers coach new and seasoned practice owners alike to improve their lives and the lives of their team members while simultaneously enhancing client experience, building sustainable practice profitability and elevating the quality of care for pets. You can reach Stith at [email protected].