by Deb Wiggs, FACMPE, V2V Founder
Some leaders are alert to an industry shift and then there are some who take an active role in helping your medical practice adapt to what is considered sweeping transformation.
So, together with the founders of V2V, we called the question. What does it mean to be a transformationist, exactly? Being a transformationist, we think, characterizes one who ushers his or her practice through the sweeping and fundamental change within the health care industry. Transformationists are part of the solution, not part of the problem, helping your practice survive and thrive amid the new business of health care. What are the skills necessary to be in the transformationist role at your practice? At V2V, we break it down into a few key characteristics necessary to become ADEPT™ at the new business of health care.
Future-focused: A transformationist is forward-thinking and excited about change. While there are some enduring characteristics of your practice, that don’t change and never need to change, the business of your practice will not thrive without evolving. You, as a transformational leader, recognizes when change is disruptive and your team needs to forge on. As many physician leaders and administrators are recognizing, the lack of change threatens the viability of the medical practice.
Dynamic learner: Being available and open to others’ input is another essential transformational quality. You must be open to learning new skills, and seek ways to innovate your daily work by incorporating new technology into your processes. For example, I still run across practices where physicians refuse to adopt email and the Internet for more effective communication and data exchange. This is one of those areas I would tell you to apply the “Stop it” button. Stop being so recalcitrant! On the flip side, some practices have embraced technology, even deploying smart phone “Apps” for disease management for conditions like diabetes and congestive heart failure. Given the speed our culture is deploying new processes and technologies, transformationists must be in a constant state of learning.
Available: The first aspect of being available is the ability to think past your programming. A transformationist is comfortable with pushing the envelope on structure, creating such things as practices without waiting rooms, allowing patients to make their own appointments, and, even being part of a solution that may require your clinic to collaborate with what are otherwise competitors. Sometimes I’ve heard it called “Collabition.” Another aspect of being available is being present. Are you in the here and now? Have you put away your cell phone, and moved out from behind the computer keyboard and monitor? I call it having your MBWA (management by walking around.) and evolving your management style to be a promoter, which lets others solve the problem, not you. Are you seen, not as a MOM (medical office manager) but as a resource to help others’ be successful? That is a transformationist.
Affable: It means being, flat-out, nice. Over the past decade or so, we have lost the premise of being nice to one another, including the regular use of “please” and “thank you.” If you are affable, people are more likely to listen to you. Humor helps, but it isn’t a requirement Every time you leave someone’s presence, if you take nothing more from this blog, please remember to thank people for their time. I worked with a physician as his MA and office manager who, every night, thanked his front office staff for their time. And guess who had the best schedule and dedication among his ten other practice physicians? Yep, you got. He does. That’s the power of being affable. A transformationist is adept at inspiring the effective and efficient medical practice team.
Adaptable: I always say “blessed are the flexible, for they will never be bent out of shape.” And, a transformationist is one who is aware of the need to evolve and adapt in order to accomplish a greater goal, not merely to change because “everyone else is doing it.” To be adaptable, you have to know where you are going and how you’re going to get there so you know when you can be flexible. I’m looking at this from two sides; an adaptive leader understands transformation is both thorough and dramatic. Thoroughness reflects the ability to get the job done, and that requires you to create a plan. Flying by the seat of your pants just rips your pants; don’t do that. As the old adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. The second aspect of transformation is that it is dramatic. By having a plan, the ADEPT™ and adaptive leader has the ability to perform a “gut check” with the understanding there are times to modify the plan, or not, in order to go forward.
To thrive as a transformationist is more than just filling a seat on the bus, even if it IS the driver’s seat. It takes an intestinal fortitude that comes from being deeply committed to influencing how care is delivered in your sphere of influence. These five characteristics fully fuse together when combined with tenacity and passion for helping the organization continue to move forward. By tenacity, I mean standing up when no one else will and by passion, I mean seeing it combined with bravery, which allows you that privilege. There is nothing more gratifying than to see your direct efforts help promote an organization’s success. That is what it means to be a transformationist.