End the Year Strong (But Don’t Lose Sight of 2019!)

Well, can you believe it? 2018 is already almost in the books. A few weeks of crunch time, a holiday party or two, and then it’s on to 2019!

Of course, it’s not that simple. The end of the year can be a crazy time for a practice, even though patient volumes tend to be a little on the low side during the winter months. Closing the books on another year, gearing up for another takes work!

And yet despite the chaos, many of us can feel like we’re in a real slump by the time the calendar hits December. Maybe it’s the accumulated stress and exhaustion from another year or hard work, or maybe just excitement of the upcoming holidays.

We’ll admit it—it can be hard to find the motivation to get a lot accomplished at the end of the year. So, it can be pretty easy to overlook things—or let them slide.

But don’t let that be you!

Even though the year is almost over, there’s still a lot you can accomplish. Let’s end the year strong!

Here are some tips to consider as you close out the year and get a head start on 2019.

Make a list of your accomplishments.

In a busy practice, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture as you do your best to simply manage the day to day.

But if you take a step back and record your accomplishments—and count the number of people you’ve been able to help—you might realize just how much good you were able to do for your patients and your team!

Nothing is too small to be noted here. Whatever you accomplished, whatever you’re proud of, whatever made your practice more money, or a better place to work, put it on the list!

Use all that positivity as motivating fuel to help you make that list as long as possible by the time the books close on 2018!

Prioritize the essentials.

You only have a few weeks left in the year, but you can still accomplish a lot! Most likely you aren’t seeing quite as many patients per day as you do during the busier parts of the year.

Take the extra time to identify the biggest goals you still want to achieve and make a “to do” list for what you want to get done before the ball drops, and who needs to be involved and actionable steps they can take to get you there.

Make a list of areas where you fell short.

What big projects did you not get around to finishing? What’s something you wanted to add to your practice this year, but didn’t? Where are you still struggling? Billing? Coding? Staffing? And most importantly, ask yourself why you didn’t reach that particular goal.

We get it. When you feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water, working 50+ hours just to see all your patients and complete all your paperwork so that you don’t get audited, there’s not much brain space or energy left for making improvements.

But if you never take the time to step back and really identify and articulate the problems you’re experiencing, how will you ever make things better?

Use the answers to these questions to give you clarity and focus for your 2019 planning and goal setting.

And remember—don’t beat yourself up about falling short of a goal. Yes, it’s an opportunity to improve. But getting half or three quarters of the way to the goal you set is still forward momentum! The focus should be on progress—the progress you’ve already made, as well as the progress to come.

Speaking of goal setting …

Remember that the best goals are SMART goals. In other words, they are:

  • Target a specific area for improvement, whether that’s an increase in the number of new patients per week, a decrease in the amount of time spent doing charting or documentation, improvement in collections, etc.
  • Don’t just say “get more patients” or “spend less time doing paperwork.” How many new patients? How many fewer hours of paperwork?
  • We’d all like to be billionaires, but this is goal setting, not dreaming. Pick targets that will be challenging, but not impossible, to hit.
  • Relevant. Remember that whatever goals you set, they should tie in with the overall practice goals. Why do you want to be more efficient with billing and coding? Perhaps so that you have more time to see more patients—or you have more time to recharge away from the office, and your patient care improves.
  • Time-Bound. Set (realistic) deadlines for when you want to achieve your goal (or even how much progress toward it you want to make by a certain date), then set up your plan so that you can work toward them consistently.

By framing your goal setting and planning in this fashion, you focus your thinking, and give yourself the very tools you’ll need to unambiguously define success and failure.

Hand holding pen over notebook with goals

Save some dates on your calendar.

As in years past, there will be two AAPPM conferences this year. We’ll be meeting in Baltimore this spring (May 16-18), and Daytona Beach in the fall (Nov 7-9). We certainly hope you’ll make time to join us on one or both occasions!

AAPPM conferences are one of the best ways for podiatrists, executive managers, marketers, medical assistants, and all members of your team to develop their skills and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to marketing, managing, and improving your practice.

They’re also a great opportunity to pick continuing education credit hours, take advantage of awesome deals from our corporate and consultant partners, develop lasting mentorship and mentoring relationships with colleagues, and more.

The diverse curriculum at each conference means that no matter what your role in the office is, or what your level of experience and expertise, there’s always something to learn and a new way to grow.

Complete newbies can get a crash course in coding, billing, and marketing 101. Experienced practitioners can develop their skills in a new procedure or practice area. Older podiatrists can talk about how to retire comfortably and hand over the practice to a partner smoothly.

Whether you’re a small, one-doctor operation or a multimillion group with numerous physicians and locations, you’ll find like-minded colleagues and sessions relevant to your needs.

We hope to see you there!

In the meantime, having a wonderful holiday season and an awesome end to your year!

Sincerely,

The AAPPM team

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