As the owner of an ophthalmology practice, you should never be content with the status quo when it comes to staffing. Turnover within your front desk staff, refractive coordinators and technical team is inevitable; these people must be replaced with quality personnel as quickly as possible.
However, when one of your key physicians decides to leave the practice – to go to another practice, start their own practice or retire – your bottom line could seriously suffer if you don’t have a succession plan in place that you can implement immediately. Your physicians are the leaders of your practice. Any lapse or hiccup in your team leadership will be felt throughout the practice – from your remaining overworked doctors, to support staff, all the way down to your patients. Having an ophthalmology succession plan is not only smart, it’s vital to your fiscal management.
In most cases physicians that have been with the practice for years will announce their intentions to retire well in advance of the date they actually stop seeing patients. This gives practices a lot of time to plan for a suitable replacement and to avoid contentious, lengthy and expensive conflicts. The problem? Practices tend to get caught up in the day-to-day processes and before they know it, the physician is gone and the practice is in jeopardy.
The Solution? Use an Ophthalmology Consultant for Succession Planning
Hiring an external consultant for ophthalmology succession planning will help ensure that the process gets started and maintains momentum so there is little downtime. A consultant will know the right timeframes to enforce and know the right questions to ask in order to get a new, qualified and compatible physician on board when the time is right.
Plan 3-5 Years in Advance
If you have advance warning that a physician is leaving your practice, it is best to start succession planning 3-5 years in advance. While this may seem extreme, keep in mind that finding a replacement is not always easy. You want to make sure the new physician will meet your specific requirements. For example, you may want your new physician to:
- Be fully trained and experienced
- Have an excellent track record
- Complement your surgical team
- Believe in your mission
- Have a similar patient treatment philosophy
- Get along with others in the organization
- Be willing to work with referring doctors
- Exude honesty, integrity and compassion
- Treat patients with the utmost respect
Better Yet, Be Proactive and Plan Now
Life is uncertain; employee loyalty is uncertain. Rather than waiting to put a succession plan in place until you know a key physician or staff member is leaving, it is far better to be proactive and have a solid plan in place so it can be launched into action at any time. This will cause less stress down the line and could make the ophthalmologist replacement process much easier.
The Type of Practice Matters
- Solo practices: if you are the owner and sole physician in your practice, finding a quality ophthalmologist to buy your practice and provide the same level of patient care will take time. Most likely you won’t have time to devote to this process without hiring an ophthalmic planning consultant to help.
- Group practices: There may need to be a sell/buyout agreement to determine what portion the departing physician will receive. This can also include how existing patients will be transferred to others in the practice. Having a detailed plan in place in advance will reduce the chance of rifts down the line.
Even Closing Shop Takes Planning
A consultant for ophthalmology practices can also help you close your practice in the most efficient, secure and well-planned manner. There are a lot of details to cover such as securely releasing patient records, purging confidential information, maintaining liability insurance for the proper amount of time and informing patients of the closure, as well as keeping quality staff on a part-time basis to deal with closing the office.
Plan Today to Protect Your Practice
Succession planning is not something that should be constantly moved down your To Do list. Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, is a Management Services Organization (MSO) that offers experienced ophthalmology consulting for succession planning and a wide variety of other consulting services to keep your practice moving smoothly today and also be ready for any changes to come in the future. To learn more about our MSO, contact Advantage Healthcare Consulting today.