Doctors are always talked about when it comes to their level of emotional intelligence and patient satisfaction. Those are major factors when it comes to getting a competitive edge in the medical world in the US. But aside from that, doctors require more technical skills than ever before.
WebMD released the 2014 Physician Compensation Report. It revealed that the average doctor earns over $200,000. And it varies heavily by region. Yet if the statistics are looked at, it becomes clear that patient satisfaction and actual results are awful.
People are not happy, and it's not just because of a supposed lack of empathy and spiraling costs. But acquiring additional technical skills can go a long way to remedying the problem in your area.
Doctors are businesspeople as much as they are doctors. Like it or not, the US healthcare system is a constant dogfight. Doctors have to know how to market themselves if they are going to get an edge over their competitors.
One way to do this is to improve in the technical department. Enhancing one's technical skills enables them to offer more services to patients. Previously, your regular patients may have had no choice but to go away to someone else, but now they can stay with you. That means more revenue and more business for your practice.
Andy Jensen, CMO at Curve Dental, a developer of dental software, sees a growing trend with doctors expanding their professional skills, "Our customers are adding to the services they can provide their patients. A growing number of general practitioners are now providing basic orthodontic services and sleep apnea treatment, just to name a few. As a result they're able to increase production levels with little to no increase in overhead. The same principle applies to any vocation, really. The more valuable you become to your employer or to your clients the bigger the payoff."
Do More for Your Clientele
Good business and making a living is about keeping your clients happy. Do more for your clientele by ensuring you can meet their needs. Before you enhance your technical skills, figure out what people actually want first. In other words, ask them what services they would like to see.
Once you have a rough idea as to what your patients desire, you should have a clear path learning path to follow.
If you happen to specialize and you live in an area with a skills shortage, you can increase your physician's salary through acquiring skills nobody else has. There are many areas of the country where doctors are free to charge practically anything they like because they don't have a high level of competition driving them into the ground.
The most successful doctors in the country don't make their money from regular checkups and diagnostics. They make their money through the added specialist services they offer. It may be a case of only selling a handful of these advanced services each day, but over the course of a year it adds up to a few thousand dollars.
But there's more...
It would be a mistake to say that acquiring new skills is simply about earning lots of money and being able to charge more for your services; although this is certainly an advantage. To improve your business, you have to enhance your emotional intelligence.
As already mentioned at the top of this article, you have to deliver service with a smile. Your job is to understand the needs of your patients. Part of this can be done through acquiring new skills, but it also requires you to improve your emotional intelligence.
Here is an example of how this works. Back in the 1990s, private healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente was struggling. It was failing to bring in enough revenue to cover its costs. A new medical director was hired and the entire culture changed to one promoting doctors as leaders and healers, rather than business assets.
According to Kyle Bazylo, CEO of Bidet.org, "You must be able to put yourself forth as a healer and leader if you're going to reap the benefits of more technical skills. Today technology and health are more related than 10 years ago."
How Should a Doctor Acquire New Technical Skills?
There are two ways this can be done. To begin with, a doctor who doesn't have time to go back to school can simply employ someone with those skills. They may operate on a contractual basis or they may work full-time for the practice.
Alternatively, you can acquire the skills yourself. It may require working only part-time while you return to school, but the investment will surely pay off. There are more learning options than ever, including learning online and studying from home.
Doctors have many reasons to acquire more technical skills. From a patient and business point of view it makes sense. Nevertheless, this desire to enhance your skillset should be tempered with understanding patient needs and delivering an empathetic service that gives a good value for the money.