The Core of a Successful Practice

Got a plan? A strategic plan? You ought to. It's difficult to build for the future and know where you and your medical practice are going without one.

Got a plan? A strategic plan? You ought to. It’s difficult to build for the future and know where you and your medical practice are going without one. For James Marotta, MD, FACS, of Smithtown, NY-based Marotta Facial Plastic Surgery, a well-developed strategic plan is at the core of his practice.

“I live strategic planning,” Marotta says. “I started taking a business course four years ago, with the goal of influencing or controlling my own destiny. And strategic planning has become a huge part of that. It’s just part of our modus operandi.”

As it should be in every medical practice.

The CEO, and the team

Marotta explains that being the owner and operator of a small medical practice means that, essentially, he’s the CEO. As such, having a strategic plan in place helps him create a greater vision for the practice. And that vision is not just about him, but also about his staff, who is very much involved in developing and carrying out the strategic plan.

“I have individuals achieve, or set out to achieve, certain goals for individual procedures,” Marotta explains. “I’ve had people in my practice adopt a procedure that they’re particularly interested in or fascinated with, and then go out and become, basically, the strategic planning expert on that particular procedure.”

Becoming an “expert” may mean setting quarterly goals for number of procedures performed, or for revenue. It can mean quarterly goals for promotion of the procedure, or for education on the procedure — education of the patients, which might include running practice seminars.

“It really empowers people to influence what the outcomes and achievements of the practice are and to contribute,” he says. “That’s why people get really excited about it, because it makes them realize they’re running the ship, you know? I’m steering it, but they’re living or dying by what we achieve here, and they have a really big impact and influence on it.”

Being in control

Marotta says he took the business course, and became an advocate of strategic planning, because he believes that all too often physicians are more apt to feel that they’re running a business in the face of something that is out of their control — hiring and firing employees and dealing with insurance companies and reimbursement all can be very stressful.

“You know, you can either make the decision to let the world happen to you and let realities kind of unfold, and you just take what comes to you — or, you can make the decision to the best of your ability to influence what your reality is,” Marotta says. “When I decided to start doing this strategic planning I felt a sense of wanting to gain control, or at least to the extent that I could. That really kind of pushed me into doing it.”

For Marotta, strategic planning has made a huge difference — not just where his business is concerned, but using the same tools to impact his personal life. He claims that strategic planning helps physicians maintain a more balanced life.

“If you’re advocating health and wellness to your potential patients, then you are obviously practicing what you preach,” he says. “You know, there’s strategic planning and goal setting in really every aspect of your life.”

Everyone is key

Marotta’s philosophy is not just to involve key practice members in strategic planning, but to involve all practice staff. That’s because he views every member of his practice staff as a key employee, especially anyone who has contact with patients.

“The front desk people — they’re not front desk people,” he explains. “They’re point-of-sale. We have monthly meetings where [the front desk staff] will get as much education as the nurses do regarding particular procedures. What is the recovery time? What is the experience like? Because when they’re on the phone with a patient, you don’t want them putting the patient on hold and saying, ‘Wait for the doctor to be available.’ The patient wants to know now. Everyone shares in the experience.”

That philosophy has worked. Marotta says that, conservatively, the practice has experienced 30% annual growth. He believes that strategic planning has had a profound impact on the amount of growth the practice has undergone.

“We’re in the process of opening up a 5,500-square-foot surgical center, which is our own facility with two operating rooms, six exam rooms, and three consult rooms,” Marotta says. “Strategic planning definitely had a part in that for sure.”