There are many “experts” in the field of podiatry that are predicting the impending demise of the small or solo practice. Doctors are routinely told they need to consider working for large hospitals and getting J-O-B jobs, because that has some measure of security. Banding together into “super groups” is touted as the only other alternative left to doctors wanting to work in private practice.
We do not agree with this vision of the future. In fact, we see the future as the coming Golden Era of podiatry.
The Shifting Future of Podiatry
There are a number of factors that are shaping the field of podiatry across the board that are affecting the industry:
1. There’s an increasing number of older doctors that are near or at the twilight of their careers and are considering their exit plans. Some of these doctors were set to retire in the next few years anyway. Others would normally consider practicing for another five or ten years, but they are electing not to continue simply because of the rapidly increasing complexity of running a podiatric practice.
2. The number of doctors finishing their residency programs who are interested in opening their own practices has diminished. This isn’t necessarily because there are fewer residents. This is because the people who are predicting the end of small practices are encouraging them to find jobs in hospitals or existing large groups instead of striking out on their own or partnering with small offices.
The Positive Results of These Changes
These changes might sound discouraging on the surface, but they shouldn’t be. They hold remarkable promise for the small practices that are willing to fill in the gaps that these changes leave behind.
As many doctors look at the challenges of electronic medical records, meaningful use, ICD-10, and the endless tsunami of paperwork, they feel like these changes are more than they can handle and are hunting for an exit.
Think about it: even though that doctor may be looking to exit the podiatry field, his or her patients still need care. Our members are already reporting that they’re being contacted with requests to acquire or merge with these ending practices. Other times, they’re simply told that these offices are closing and the patients will need somewhere to go. Even the practices that sell to hospital systems or large groups are leaving a hole in patient care—many of their patients are looking for the personal, more caring atmosphere of a small, private practice.
The decrease in residents opening their own practices or joining small offices is an opportunity as well. It means these young doctors are not moving in to fill the holes the older, retiring doctors are leaving behind. Plenty of them will still be interested in joining a growing, thriving practice as a partner—just fewer than there used to be.
The Golden Era of Podiatry Is Coming
For the doctors in the one to seven practitioner-sized offices, you now have the field all to yourselves. In fact, the opportunity to build and grow a successful podiatry practice in the next ten years is as great or greater than it has ever been. And this won’t be going away. We see this as one of the best times to be in a small practice.
Now, all of the complexities of running a podiatry office that the experts warn about are true. But that doesn’t have to signal the end of small private practices. The difference is that, for the offices that manage themselves efficiently and market themselves effectively, the opportunities are boundless.
Marketing your practice means, first of all, understanding the marketing process from beginning to end. There are four “pillars” of marketing that are available to small offices: web-based, referral (or “shoe-leather”), internal or database, and external marketing. What’s more, practice management means establishing protocols and processes that enables the staff to efficiently and profitably manage the practice. This helps eliminate the frustrations and anxieties of medicine.
Seizing These Opportunities
At Top Practices, we know this is possible. It’s why our programs have become so popular. We are hyper-focused on empowering our members to effectively utilize all four of those pillars through an integrated marketing program. That way their waiting rooms are filled with exactly the kinds of patients they want to see. In addition, with our Practice Management Institute program, we’ve created a specific curriculum for any office that enables the staff to learn how to efficiently manage the practice. This allows you, the doctor, to step back.
The goal of all of this is that the frustrations, anxieties, and feelings of being overwhelmed vanish over time. They can then be replaced by enjoying the practice of medicine again, delighting in financial abundance, and peace-of-mind so you can enjoy nights and weekends with your family.
This is what we mean by the coming Golden Era of Podiatry. There is an enormous opportunity for doctors who are prepared to take the time and make the investment to turn their practice into a productive, profitable, patient-filled office of the future. If you’d like to know more about it, our successful Mastermind group, or any of our programs, let us know! We’d love to hear from you. Send us an e-mail at [email protected], or call (717) 725-2679.