Archive for month: May, 2014

Build Trust in You and Your Business Through Communities

Categories: Articles

BuildTrustThroughCommunities

Back in the old days of marketing – the 2000s – businesses pushed out a lot of messages to customers, clients and prospects. That approach doesn’t work as well anymore.

While you still need to push out information to introduce yourself and feed the marketplace as well as the search engines, it’s the conversations in the communities of your customers and clients that help people trust in your business. The community dynamic is something you need to understand and embrace as part of your Continuous Improvement Process.

Technology has always played a major role in how businesses communicate, starting with newspapers and magazines. But readers had to take the word of reporters and editors that they printed as the truth. By the 1950s, TV had become commonplace in most homes, and people could say: “I know it’s true because I saw it on TV.”

The Internet opened more direct communications channels for businesses to reach customers. You could publish websites, blogs, newsletters and even news releases. You don’t have an editor from a news outlet as a gatekeeper. You could start Facebook pages and invite friends (who may or may not be customers or clients) to “like” your business.

The common denominator is that you, the business, pushed out all of this information (and opinion) to your market. People sarcastically started to say: “I know it’s true because I saw it on the Internet.”

The problems with past tactics are:

  • Lack of trust of the message
  • Lack of trust of the messenger
  • Not what I need or care about
  • Can’t find your message among the clutter and noise

Today, it’s about communities that build trust in your business and its brand – everything you stand for. In 2014, communities are built on people who know and trust you and your business:

  • Brand advocates
  • Influencers
  • Community members

One way to tap into a community is through LinkedIn groups, where your claims are subject to comment among the group. When people without a stake in your business comment favorably about it or about your message, it gives you credibility. That leads to trust.

Because technology evolves at breakneck speed, your Continuous Improvement Process requires close, regular attention to new developments.

That’s where we come in. Yes, this is about pushing out a message to your company advocates and your community.  When you have the need for marketing solutions but not the time to design and implement them, Niche Labs can your trusted advisor. We are a full-service agency for businesses that don’t have a CMO or VP of Marketing or don’t have enough website development and digital/ direct marketing resources (people or time). 

We can work with you to:

  • Conduct a marketing assessment of your company and its market.
  • Find new customers by increasing website traffic through communities
  • Strengthen your online presence with a new, high quality e-Commerce website or by improving an existing website
  • Engage your new and existing customers with community-building activities

For more tips and insights about digital marketing advancements, connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or subscribe to our monthly newsletter to read summaries of our weekly posts.

To speak with our team, please Email us at sales@nichelabs.com, call 888.978.9254, or if you are mobile, visit us on your smartphone.  Let’s build a community together.

Provided by Hal Schlenger of NicheLabs,
(770-335-0077 or hschlenger@nichelabs.com)

May Practice Manager of the Month

Categories: Practice Manager of the Month

Interview with Jana Baker
Practice Administrator
Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates

We are excited to recognize Jana Baker as the Healthcare Services Team Practice Manager of the Month. Jana has spent nearly seven years with Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates (AGA) where she has been an integral part of the management team in building one of the region’s pre-eminent gastroenterology groups.

Jana was initially hired by AGA as their Operations Manager, a position she held for only a year before being promoted to the role of Practice Administrator, for this 73-physician/38 office/9 endoscopy center gastroenterology practice. Her responsibilities include daily management of a staff of twelve direct reports and oversight of a practice-wide staff numbering 400. Jana oversees all departments including human resources, IT, finance, office operations, endoscopy center operations, patient quality, customer service, and compliance.

We had a chance to sit down recently with Jana to explore what makes her work enjoyable and how she approaches management.

What do you enjoy about your job?

To keep it simple, Jana said, “I like working with people – patients, physicians, team members.” And, she particularly loves helping the practice grow. When Jana joined the practice, doctors “42” and “43” had recently joined. This growth, almost 100% by physician-count since Jana joined the practice, presents her and AGA with unique challenges. However, it is the challenge of problem solving and improving processes to make them more efficient which gives Jana so much professional satisfaction.

What is your greatest accomplishment in your current job?

Being a champion for change is at the top of Jana’s list of professional accomplishments. Jana likes the challenge presented when encouraging people to move outside of their comfort zones. She does this by shepherding her team and practice through the change process whether that be implementing a new electronic medical record system, restructuring a department, or rolling out a new service. Jana states, “I want others to see that change brings opportunity and that we can better ourselves and the practice by taking a positive approach to change.”

What were you doing prior to your current job?

Prior to joining AGA, Jana spent five years at a healthcare consulting firm focused on helping large, academic medical centers improve their revenue cycle and make the most efficient use of their inpatient beds. She began as an associate before being promoted to senior associate and finally to manager. Jana gained valuable experience learning how to work with hospital executives and she honed her people skills while working with numerous project teams. Every six-to-nine months, Jana found herself on a new project team with new managers and new team members. She learned how to develop staff by stretching them with opportunities that were partially in and out of their comfort zones.

Jana learned how to balance the objectives of the big picture while learning how to adapt to new managers and team members frequently. She had fifteen different managers and directors in five years, with many associates reporting to her during this period. She helped her associates with their struggles and discovered what motivated them. She filed away, from each manager, the elements of their management style she liked and didn’t like and incorporated them into her personal management style. Jana found she most admired the managers who focused on taking care of people as a first priority.

What 3 tips can you offer your colleagues about being a successful practice manager?

  1. Prioritize people—patients, physicians, your team.
  2. Seek first to understand. Take the time to understand the issue and to understand the background. When you do this, you are in the best position to figure out how to proceed.
  3. Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to make decisions. I’ve learned over time that if I hesitate to make a decision, it is because I haven’t yet settled on the best decision for moving forward. So, I seek other angles of problem solving or call upon others for support until I arrive at a decision that feels right.

Who gave you advice about being successful and what was his/her advice to you?

“My most influential mentor was my grandmother. After my grandfather’s sudden death, my grandmother was thrust into running a business and raising a family at a time when both were uncommon. She was strong, independent, and caring. I admired that she took advantage of the opportunity to travel and experience the world first-hand,” stated Jana. Her house was less than a few miles from Jana’s and her grandmother was always there for her. Jana learned about being determined, persevering, and taking care of her responsibilities from her grandmother – traits which she uses every day in her professional career with AGA.

What hobbies or special interests do you have?

Jana loves giving her young son new experiences and opening his eyes to the world. He has already traveled to 13 different states in his first 18 months. In addition, Jana has recently started to play tennis and is enjoying getting back into team activities through ALTA and USTA.

 

Dr. Steven Morris, M.D.

Lease Language… The Devil is in the Details

Categories: Articles

The focus of most medical lease negotiations is on the business terms and while they are certainly critically important, after coming to agreement on business terms you should not forget to spend the time necessary to negotiate a good lease document. 70 to 80% of any lease document will probably never be used. Most of the language in a lease is like an insurance policy, it is only important if there is an event that invokes it. Many of the non monetary issues are given only cursory attention during the negotiation process.

Among the issues which should be considered are:

Use – Most tenants pay very little attention to the use provision but you should make sure in deciding on the description that it is sufficiently broad to cover all of the things you currently do as well as future services that you may offer as your practice and medicine continue to change. You should also try to keep the use sufficiently broad to allow flexibility in the event you should need or want to sublease in the future.

Permitted and Restricted Uses – Particularly in buildings on hospital campuses but also in buildings which may now have or have in the past had tenants which were owned by hospitals you need to pay particular attention to the Permitted and Restricted Use paragraph. Hospitals in an attempt to drive ancillary services to the hospital have put a range of restrictions on tenants of Medical Office Buildings (MOBs) which they have touched by the hospital either as a tenant or a building owner. Make sure that you will not be restricted from offering a service which may now or in the future be important to your practice. The areas they tend to restrict include imaging services, laboratory services, physical therapy and some types of procedures. Ultrasound, for example, is a procedure which is generally restricted by hospitals but is also frequently used in the normal course of diagnosis by a wide range of specialties. Failing to address any such service which is a restricted use puts you at risk of being declared in default in the future. Also remember that just because the landlord chooses not declare you in default when they discover the violation does not mean they won’t choose to declare you in default at some point in the future.

Damage & Destruction – This paragraph covers damage to the premises which is either partial or total as the result of fire, water damage, acts of nature or terrorism. It is important to remember that this is an issue which effects both the Landlord and the Tenant. There are no winners in negotiating this paragraph, rather it is everyone’s intent that they just survive such an event. The language covering both partial and total damage should specify a reasonable time for reconstruction. Notice of the Landlord’s intent should ideally be given within 30 days but certainly no more than 60 days after the event. This paragraph should also discuss what happens if the Landlord gives notice to the tenant of its intent to reconstruct the space within a certain timeframe and doesn’t follow thru.

Assignment & Subletting- It is important to remember that there is a difference in an assignment and a sublease. In a sublease the tenant brings in a subtenant to share the space or take over the space entirely but in a sublease the original tenant remains liable for the obligations of the lease most notably the monetary obligations. In a true assignment the original tenant is allowed to assign all of it’s rights and obligations including monetary obligations to a substitute tenant. Most Landlords are reluctant to allow for an assignment of a lease because just like a bank they want to keep as much collateral or as many guarantors backing the payment of rent as possible. The landlord should however be willing to allow a sublease provided they approval the substitute tenant’s financials and use of the space. The landlord’s approval should be qualified to say that their approval shall not be unreasonably withheld, restricted or conditioned.

On your next lease hopefully you will spend the necessary time and attention on these and the other non monetary points in the lease to insure that if one of these items occurs that your practice will be able to survive it. The business points are an early measure of negotiating success but careful negotiation of the lease language may ultimately be more indicative of a truly successful lease.

Provided by Stan Sharp, President of HealthOne Realty Advisors.
(770-578-4996 or
ssharp@healthonerealty.com)

Document Management Solutions: Reducing Paper

Categories: Articles

Running a business office often equates to paper usage mounting up and HIPAA security procedures being compromised. Within many medical offices across the country, documents are printed freely, correspondence continues in the hard copy paper format and many internal documents will still be printed without security measures in place as opposed to being distributed digitally and securely. It doesn’t matter how many members of staff individually attempt to cut down on paper usage, it still seems inevitable that stacks of paper cover every flat surface. To truly devote resources to cutting down on print and paper usage and in turn drive down print costs, it is important to implement a culture of change from the top downwards, and until this takes place, many offices continue to be strewn with papers, and important space continues to be inhabited by filing structures.

Cost of storage
The cost associated with filing papers and storage might not be obvious enough to immediately strike you, however storing and retrieving multiple documents is a much greater inconvenience in modern times than newer, more streamlined electronic options. Storage cabinets, files and print costs all add up, and can have a substantial impact on your bottom line while drastically having a negative impact on efficiency.

Employee time
While it may be an expense to establish a paperless office that relies on a digital system which you’ll need to implement through staff training, in the long run it will work out as a much more cost and time effective strategy. One of the biggest costs associated with a paper filing system is largely hidden from view; the cost of your employees’ time. The more time your staff spend trawling documents for items they require the less time they have to spend on tasks that really contribute to the practice as a whole. The higher the salary of a person looking for a document, the more it’s costing you.

Internal communication
One way of cutting down on storage needs is to make sure your organization truly utilizes digital life. Emails are a great form of communication, and although many of us have an inbox that is inundated with messages, there’s no need to print out reams of correspondence. Many people turn to printing out a hard copy when their inbox gets overwhelmingly full, in an effort to make sure important conversations aren’t misplaced or deleted. However, in the thriving digital workplace there is no need to print out documents simply for them to be read once and then thrown away. Rather than turning to print, opt to employ a thorough filing system with your emails. It’s important to categorize your incoming correspondence to make sure you know where it is. While it might seem simple, it is an easy step to reduce costs.

The more frequent use of tablet and mobile devices in the modern workplace now means print technologies are required at a much smaller frequency. Many staff are beginning to see the value in bringing their own device (BYOD); however even if staff manage to utilize this in a way which helps to eradicate printing, there are still practices like record keeping that require documents in hard copy form.

In the modern workplace, high print costs are an unnecessary expenditure, so if you’re interested in getting greener and reducing print costs, please email rsimons@edgeatl.com.
Rich Simons is the head of Strategy and Managed Print division for EDGE Business Systems. He helps improve efficiencies for medical practices providing analysis, customization and recommendations to create an efficient work environment for all document processes. Feel free to connect at rsimons@edgeatl.com.

Provided by Rich Simons, PE, Vice President of Sales, EDGE Business Systems
(404-304-5177 or rsimons@edgeatl.com)

Financial Wellness is Sponsor Focus

Categories: Articles

Aon Hewitt’s 2014 Hot Topics in Retirement survey found that retirement plan sponsors will continue to emphasize the overall financial wellness of employees this year.

Advice options expected to grow

Nearly half (44%) of responding employers currently make investment advice available to employees, and an additional 14% are very or somewhat likely to add this service this year.

About one-third (35%) of companies offer access to third-party advisors by phone. Another 14% are somewhat or very likely to provide this support in 2014.

Almost one-quarter (23%) make in-person meetings with financial advisors available. About 10% of employers are very or somewhat likely to offer this support during this year.

Other support is or will be offered

About 25% of companies say they are very likely to offer budgeting advice to employees so that they can handle expected expenses and still have money for savings.

Aon Hewitt’s report is at http://tinyurl.com/2014HotTopics.

For plan sponsor use only, not for use with participants or the general public. This information is not intended as authoritative guidance or tax or legal advice. You should consult with your attorney or tax advisor for guidance on your specific situation.
Kmotion, Inc., P.O. Box 1456, Tualatin, OR 97062; 877-306-5055; www.kmotion.com
© 2014 Kmotion, Inc. This newsletter is a publication of Kmotion, Inc., whose role is solely that of publisher. The articles and opinions in this publication are for general information only and are not intended to provide tax or legal advice or recommendations for any particular situation or type of retirement plan. Nothing in this publication should be construed as legal or tax guidance; nor as the sole authority on any regulation, law or ruling as it applies to a specific plan or situation. Plan sponsors should consult the plan’s legal counsel or tax advisor for advice regarding plan-specific issues.

Provided by Jay W. Cohen, MPA, CPA, CFP®, of Monterey Wealth
(404-201-2284 or jay.cohen@lpl.com)

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