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About Philippa Kennealy

 

Philippa Kennealy MD MPH CPCC PCC is The Entrepreneurial MD Business Coach who wants to help you build your business!
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Thursday
Jan232014

Physician business leaders need excellent Active Listening skills

As business-oriented physicians move increasingly into leadership roles, either in your own businesses, or within your organizations, your ability to communicate effectively will become critical.

And great communication begins with great listening!

Hopefully, as a clinician, you honed the art of listening to your patients. But since we physicians are renowned for interrupting early in a patient visit, and our brains are usually furiously working on diagnosing what is wrong with the patient, it's a fair bet that we are not very good at Active Listening.

What is Active Listening?

Unless our hearing is impaired, we all have the capability of “hearing” what is being said -- we see the mouth move, we hear sounds come out and we recognize words that sound familiar… Or somewhat familiar!

However, not all of us listen

Active listening takes place when the speaker has our full attention, we are not distracted by our own thoughts or planning what we’re going to say next, and we find ourselves becoming curious about and engaged in the topic at hand.

As simple as the following may sound, it rarely happens well in practice. However, if you master these steps, your interpersonal and leadership skills will be dramatically impacted.

The 10 steps to excellent Active Listening:

1. Stop whatever you’re doing and turn towards the speaker, or give him or her your full attention without distraction when you’re on the phone

2. If the speaker is in front of you, begin by making eye contact. Don’t stare at his or her chin or ears … look directly into the eyes, and be sure to soften your gaze so that you don’t appear to be staring or glaring.

3. Active listening engages your entire face and body – you appear intent or animated, your torso may even be angled slightly towards the speaker and your whole body conveys that you are paying attention.

4. Allow a person to finish his or her sentence or thought process. A useful acronym to remember and truly exercise here is W.A.I.T --- “Why Am I Talking?”

Here is an interesting little fact. The 6 letters that make up the word “listen” can be rearranged to make the word “silent”!

5. If you have to interrupt because the story is lengthy, wandering or unduly time-consuming, begin by saying something like “I apologize if I appear rude, but I have to interrupt because …”

6. Refrain from formulating your response until the other person had finished speaking. It’s perfectly okay, at this point, to pause and reflect on how you want to respond, even if there are a few seconds of silence.

7. Try to suspend immediate judgment or, worse still, condemnation. Instead, adopt an attitude of deep curiosity -- make it your goal to discover or uncover what is at the heart of the other person’s communication.

8. This means that you have to ask questions. The best questions are open-ended; they seek to understand, and typically begin with the words “how”, “what”, “when”, and careful use of the word “why” -- avoid sounding like an interrogator with your “why”!

9. Succinctly summarize what it is you heard the other person say, and check in with him or her – “If I understand you correctly, you are saying/wondering/concerned about/asking …”.

10. Ask for clarification if your summary is not entirely accurate. Keep at it, until you feel you have a good grasp of the conversation and/or the speaker’s intent.

Here's to your better listening!

Monday
Jan062014

5 Social Media Tips for Physician Business Owners

Happy New Year to all my readers! May 2014 be one of your most productive, energized and rewarding years.

In the spirit of keeping active with blogging, I have decided to accept an occasional outside guest post on topics that might be useful to or interesting for you --- here is the first one. Please let me know if this is NOT a good plan! 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

In 2012, the average age of physicians in the U.S. was 51. That same year, the average age of a social media user was between 25-44 years old, some sites skewing younger than others. These statistics means there’s a disconnect between physicians with active licenses and their patients or younger clients, at least when it comes to social media.

Social media is a great way to provide better, more engaging patient or client care. Even if you’re not all that proficient in technology and don’t know how to send a tweet, it only takes a few minutes to learn the basics of any one social media platform (or hire a high school student for an afternoon to teach you!). 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using social media in a way that helps you provide lasting, effective service to all your patients or clients.

1. Decide which site is best for you.

Most likely, the vast majority of your patients or clients are going to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest. These are among the most popular social sites in the world and their communities are active on a daily basis. You should invest some time learning one (or more) of these sites and in the basic functionalities that will allow you to communicate. Set up a branded profile, either in the name of your practice or as an individual (think: “The Optometry Gal”, etc.).

2. Have a social media plan.

What are you going to use the site for? Do you need a better way to communicate with patients? Do you intend to build an active, engaged "tribe" around you and your service or product? Perhaps you just need a more effective outlet for disseminating information on pertinent issues, and practice or business updates. Go ahead and carve out time every day (or appoint someone on your staff) to interact on and monitor your social site.

Whatever your decision, plan for this to be an ongoing sustainable educational marketing activity for your practice or business. Remember - this IS within your comfort zone, if you want to avoid the pushy, used car salesman alternative to spreading the word!
 

3. Do research on HIPAA regulations in your state.

Social media is a great way to communicate with people but be mindful of all state and federal regulations that may affect you. Never give out confidential medical information on a social site and be cautious about what kind of “advice” you give to patients. When in doubt, have your default social site statement be that you encourage your social contacts seek care in their physician's office.

4. Make your patients or clients aware of your social presence.

Some of your patients will be happy to know they can schedule appointments via your Facebook page, or even ask you general medical questions (the kind that have broad educational answers) over Twitter. Make sure your patients know where to find you and encourage them to reach out – but be sure you answer! Nothing kills effective social networking faster than the "radio silence" of one party.

5. Promote content that’s useful for sustained results.

Social media is a terrific way to share educational information with patients and clients --- if only you had the time during each visit or contact! For example, you can remind your female patients to get a mammogram every year, or talk about the importance of scheduling a flu shot appointment when winter hits. You can even share studies and articles you’ve found informative. When your social contacts see these kinds of communications coming directly from your medical office or business (that they’ve learned to trust), they’ll be far more likely to read (and heed) it.

How you use social to interact with your patients and clients specifically will greatly depend on your business, the needs of your "followers", and the time you’re willing to put into it. Consider social media one more way to maintain a healthy dialogue with your patients or clients, rather than a time-suck, and you’re well on your way to providing an engaging, active social program within your field.

Guest post by Ryan Currie who is a product manager at BizShark.com, with 5 years experience in online marketing and product development.  In addition to web related businesses, he also enjoys the latest news and information on emerging technologies and open source projects. 

Tuesday
Nov122013

For physician entrepreneurs: FutureMed - a future glimpse of medicine

Last week I attended the FutureMed 2013 Conference in San Diego. There I was, seated in a very Silicon Valley kind of way (see my picture of the gorgeous comfy white seating, bean bags included), enjoying a mind-expanding experience that I have still not had the time to fully process since my return home.

The top 5 themes that emerged, with implications for all you physician entrepreneurs who are bent on stirring your forward-thinking creative juices, are:  

  1. The future is exponential:
    Technology and its accompanying knowledge have exploded exponentially and the costs of technology are decreasing exponentially (sequencing the Human Genome cost about $2.7 billion and one decade later, you can get a reasonably detailed analysis for $99 from 23andme.) It is time to stop your linear strategic planning, and aim instead for the exponential extrapolation of your business. What will that look like?
  2. It's all about Genomics and Personalised Medicine:
    We understand increasingly how our genomes predispose us to certain diseases, and how epigenetics influence gene expression. With our individual genomic profiles readily available at decreasing costs, we can imagine early on what the potential impact is of environment (internal and external) on our genetic expression -- and make necessary modifications to limit the development of diseases we may be predisposed to.
    There are at least 4 companies now doing highly accurate prenatal genomic testing that can replace amniocentesis. And after a baby is born, its DNA can be fully sequenced, helping identify disorders like phenylketonuria much earlier than existing tests can. It's just a matter of time before this is the standard of (affordable) care.
  3. The Quantified Self
    Sensors are now ubiquitous (got a smart phone? Use a Fitbit?) and are generating streams of data that have huge potential to help manage wellbeing and disease. The big challenge is figuring out how to derive real meaning from all the data -- your next business opportunity??
    Many startups exist in this space - two of my favorites were PatientsLike Me and Scanadu with its soon-to-be release Scout.
  4. Disruption is the next big thing in healthcare.
    Technology and innovation are creating great upheaval in medicine - think of a 3-D printed trachea, the democratization of health information via the Internet and now on your smartphone, DIY biotechnology, and Citizen Scientists. Expect that the next big breakthroughs will disrupt the status quo.
  5. Care will be truly patient-centered and proactive.
    ... as opposed to reactive and disease-centric. The health systems of the future will encourage and provide resources for patients to be the "
    CEOs of their own health care teams".
    According to Fogg’s Behavior Model (B=MAT), behavior is a function of motivation, ability, and trigger at the same time. Technologies can improve both "ability" and "trigger". The biggest prize will go to those who can come up with useful and reproducible ways to motivate and engage patients, or simply people, long before they need to become patients! 

Time to put on your clever and creative thinking caps, my physician entrepreneur friends! 

(photo below courtesy of FutureMed 2013 - our group, appropriately "scrubbed")

Tuesday
Sep172013

Multi-talented physician entrepreneur starts women's wellness business

A newly-minted physician entrepreneur, Dr Tara Coles is all energy - an ER physician, mother of four, artist, writer, speaker and self-professed healer with a zest for learning and putting her multiple talents to work.

Her passions extend to women's wellness, integrative approaches to health and nutrition, mindfulness and creativity, and she is fired up by the vision that, in the face of a failing healthcare system (as seen through the exhausted eyes of an ER physician), there has to be a better way to engage people, especially women through building community into their lives. And community is a place of shared struggles and triumphs, and laughter.

Tara's magazine-style website Women's Wellness and Health is currently her signature site, and is the launch pad for future websites that will focus on art, and services she plans to offer clients. She maintains a very active social media profile on Facebook and Twitter -- an excellent move to begin building an following for her future businesses.

Listen to Tara tell her story about her journey into becoming a physician entrepreneur and then please add your comments or thoughts here. 

Wednesday
Sep112013

5 fantastic resources for bootstrapping a physician business startup

Bootstrapping your physician start-up can at times seem like an overwhelming task. But with med school loans to pay off and business and daily expenses, it can be hard to come by the extra cash needed to fund your start-up.

Fortunately the Internet has come to our rescue with a huge array of services to help launch most low-overhead physician businesses relatively quickly. Using these resources will allow you to gain clients, network with your peers, prepare legal documents, and keep accurate notes. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Evernote 

My overall favorite "extra brain" (that doesn't seem to suffer from menopause!!

Working as a physician consultant often means having to juggle a lot of balls at the same time. Evernote makes keeping track of what you are doing much simpler. This is an online tool that allows you to file away web pages and documents or emails, write notes, snap a photo or record your thoughts on audio. Two of the best things about Evernote are a. that it is searchable and b. that it syncs across all of your devices. That means if you own a tablet, a laptop, smart phone and a desktop, you can have access to your files ("Notebooks") no matter which one you are using.

     2. 99 Designs 

First impressions are crucial. According to recent research from Princeton University it takes only one tenth of a second for us to form an initial impression. This is especially true in the online environment where websites are constantly competing for viewer’s attention. 

Therefore you want to make sure your website looks as good as possible. Hiring a website designer can be difficult or expensive. 99Designs is a creative solution - a marketplace for designers. Using 99 designs, you first submit a design brief (banner, logo, ebook cover etc), and then dozens of designers provide their ideas for your design. You select the one that you like and voila ... the designer completes the task.  

     3. Email marketing

Email marketing is one of the best ways of nurturing leads and educating them about your physician business or consulting services. Email autoresponder services allow you to automate this process and deliver prewritten emails to prospects who choose to receive them. A couple of examples include Constant ContactMailchimp and Aweber -- all an easy-to-use autoresponder services which feature great-looking email templates. They are either free or low-cost to sign up with and so there really is no reason not to get started.

     4. LinkedIn 

Whether you are looking to network with peers or to find clients, LinkedIn should be your first destination. Unlike other social networks, LinkedIn is all about business. LinkedIn offers a wide variety of groups in the healthcare industry which you can join and contribute your well-thought-out and useful content. No need to even have a blog, if you don't want one. LinkedIn also offers an advertising platform which allows you to target users by their job title, seniority, location, industry and company. 

     5. LegalZoom 

As a physician business owner or consultant, you will need legal documentation, from website terms and conditions through incorporation papers to partnership or vendor agreements. LegalZoom is an online service that enables users to create their own legal documents. This significantly reduces your costs compared to those of having a lawyer prepare the documents for you. 

While these resources are fantastic for bootstrapping a physician business start-up, they are by no means the only ones. The Internet has made it easier than ever to launch a start-up without the barrier of prohibitively expensive services.

And what other resources have YOU found invaluable for your non-clinical physician business?