Short-Term Objectives Can Help You Realize Long-Term Goals

For a medical practice to achieve its goals, such as adding more physicians, specialties, services, or technologies, it must have a financial plan. A good plan takes a long view of the practice's success but includes short-term, achievable objectives along the way.

Objective statements should have specific, measureable targets, such as gross charges, physician compensation, or operating hours that align with the practice's long-term goals. It's important to get staff input into short-term objectives, says TMA's new publication,  Business Basics for Physicians

You might use staff questionnaires to elicit the type of information you want for setting goals and objectives. The questionnaires also can ask employees to list priorities that need immediate action, focusing on the following practice areas: 

  • Professional services,
  • Human resources,
  • Facilities and equipment,
  • Financial resources,
  • Innovation,
  • Productivity,
  • Social responsibility,
  • Salary requirements,
  • Management information systems, and
  • Compliance and accountability.

After gathering responses, physicians and key staff members can meet to fine-tune practice goals and formulate objectives that complement each goal. For example, Business Basics says, a professional services goal to offer comprehensive medical care may have an accompanying objective of adding three primary care physicians in the next six months.

Medical practices should devote time annually to developing an operating budget that outlines how they will go about achieving their financial goals, the book says. Budgets are beneficial because they:

  • Help physicians make and coordinate short-term plans and communicate these plans to all staff;
  • Motivate staff to achieve the goals in their area by providing target indicators;
  • Authorize staff to use and acquire resources during the coming period and to expand existing or carry out new activities;
  • Enable staff to anticipate favorable conditions so they can capitalize on them or, if unfavorable, take steps to minimize their impact; and
  • Establish benchmarks to control ongoing activities, and set criteria for evaluating staff performance.

 Business Basics for Physicians is available in the TMA Education Center and offers continuing medical education credit, including ethics. If you need help setting goals and objectives for your practice, consider calling in a TMA practice consultant for an operations assessment. Contact TMA Practice Consulting at (800) 523-8776 or practice.consulting@texmed.org. And, check out TMA's Practice Financials page for more tips and tools.

Published Aug. 12, 2014

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