From commitment to payoff: A 10-step plan to put technology into your practice
Are you poised on the threshold of applying technology to your marketing or to make you and your staff more efficient? Perhaps you have some other ideas in mind for turning high tech into high profits.
Before you dive into the technology pool, you want to make sure itís filled with water. So where do you dip your toes? Do you look first to your needs? To the capabilities of technology? Or to your budget?
Youíre asking the right questions, thinking the right thoughts. What you need is commitment ó and a plan. The commitment can only come from you. But as for the plan ó here are 10 steps that can make that commitment to technology pay off:
1 Research. Find out what other chiropractors are using for marketing, inventory control of ancillary products and office management. Find out whatís available, what you can afford and whatís coming up next.
The idea is to begin operating from a standpoint of knowledge. Keep your radar attuned to which technology will improve your effectiveness and your efficiency, which can light a fire under your marketing, which can save you time and money, and which can add luster to your practice.
2 Check out your competitors. The last thing you want is for your competitors to offer more convenience and better service than you, so see what theyíre up to. Learn how technology is helping them. The idea isnít to catch them but to surpass them.
3 Talk to your own patients. What technologies do your patients use? If theyíre still using fax machines and arenít yet online, perhaps you donít have to be online either. But if theyíre using the Web and know how to look for things there, you should have a presence there, too. Your job is not just to keep up with your patients but also to stay ahead of them by offering the ultimate in convenience.
4 Know your real needs. Once you have determined your needs, youíll know which technology to purchase and which you can do without for the time being. Thereís no need to arm yourself to fight a tiger when all youíll be facing is a pussycat. On the other hand, you donít want to be prepared only for pussycats when tigers are charging you. The key is to fortify yourself with the appropriate technology to serve your patients.
5 Examine your alternatives. Computers are not the solution to every problem. Some technology ó such as advanced voice-mail systems ó can lose customers for you as easily as they can gain them if overused or abused.
Picasso once said that the problem with computers is that all they can do is come up with the right answers, but not the right questions. Itís up to you to ask those right questions. How can you improve your patient service with technology? How can you add more effectiveness to your marketing with technology? How can you streamline your way of doing business with technology?
If you ask these questions youíll be able to use technology to provide the answers.
6 Talk to your staff. Donít keep your plans a secret. Your task is to get your staff to want technology as much as you do and to embrace it with the same enthusiasm. Many of todayís computer whizzes were scared to death to touch a keyboard or click a mouse just a few years ago. Take the time to get feedback from your staff, to enlist their aid and to make them feel part of the move to technology rather than as if they are
being brushed aside by it.
7 Plan ó in writing. Just as you should have a written marketing plan, you need to have a written technology plan that lays out which technologies youíll need and when youíll need them. After you have completed the preceding steps, write your plan.
You probably wonít want to purchase all your equipment at the same time, but which will you need first? Second? Third? Get those priorities straight, then live up to your plan. Youíll find that the plan simplifies both the purchasing and the mastery of your equipment.
8 Train your staff. If you canít do the training yourself, or if an employee canít do it, hire a trainer or a consultant who can show your staff the ropes and the simplicity of your technology. If your staff doesnít know how to use what you buy, the technology will gather dust and become an expense instead of an asset to your practice.
9 Purchase equipment you can grow into, not out of. The first thing you want is a computer with enough power to run all the software youíll be using. The last thing you want is to need even more power later because youíve grown so successful.
Donít sacrifice quality in this area. Be willing to spend enough on a top-quality vendor for top-quality technology. Maybe itís more power and technology than you need right now, but you will be much happier growing into it than realizing you will soon outgrow it.
Whatever you purchase will be improved and the price will drop within a few months. That is the nature of the technology beast. With this in mind, never forget that you can upgrade if the needs arises.
Software continues to get better and easier to use, and is very simple to merely upgrade without having to purchase a new or more powerful hardware. Your chiropractic business is like a new family; it doesnít make sense to purchase a one-bedroom house with a baby on the way and a few more planned for later. A three-bedroom house may be a bit to large at first, but you can grow into it and you wonít have to start looking for a new house when you should be settling into one.
10 Evaluate your progress. At the end of each month, check to see if youíre following your plan, if your technology is serving all the needs you identified in your original plan, if your staff is comfortable with the technology, if your staff members are happy and if your patients see a difference.
Settle for nothing less than complete satisfaction. Is the technology doing exactly what you want it to do? If not, make changes so that it does.
It is very important that you become involved not with the technology itself, which can be ultra-fascinating, but with what the technology can do for you.
All the bells and whistles in the world wonít increase profitability if it canít delight your patients and satisfy their specific needs. Never forget that your patients should be the beneficiaries of your leap into the techno-world, and that advanced technology is all about them. If you keep patients in the forefront of your mind, youíll stay on the right track.
Jimmy Mack is a managing partner in healthclubexperts.com and is an expert in lead generation and database management. He has more than 20 years of experience in the health and fitness industry and with doctors of chiropractic. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone 864-972-1139.