Attain Distance Before Deciding
a) Overcome Short-Term Emotion
As a practice owner, Shannon is emotionally engaged with every little detail and every event that happens in her practice. Â We prefer familiarity to convenience, and we prefer convenience to objective benefits. She needs to be aware of three kinds of emotions that bias our decisions:
- Fleeting emotions
- Loss aversion
Fleeting emotions tempt us make decisions that might not be good in the long term. Shannon should make a disciplined effort to delay making a decision. Â â€œ10/10/10â€ is a good rule of thumb for taking a long-term perspective about your current emotions. Ask yourself: how would you feel about your decision in 10 minutes, in 10 months, and in 10 years?
For some reason, we are wired in a way that losses are more painful than gains are pleasant. Â We are also prone to like something more just because we have been repeatedly exposed to it. The combined effect of the two tendencies is that Shannon is biased to maintain status-quo, even if objectively, an option she considers is more beneficial to her practice long-term.
To overcome her emotional bias, Shannon needs to distance herself from her practice. Asking yourself â€œwhat would I tell my friend to do in this situation?â€ might help her take the right distance.
b) Establish Your Core Values and Priorities
Core priorities make resolving complex dilemmas easier. Whatâ€™s more important:
- staff teamwork or predictable cash flow?
- patient perception or practice growth?
- compliance or patient flow?
- peace of mind or new opportunities?
By making a list of her own core values, Shannon can compare her core values with those of the vendors she is considering and quickly rule out the vendors with mismatching priorities. For instance, if Shannonâ€™s top priority is patientâ€™s satisfaction, then she should rule out any vendor who only focuses on the practice owner and does not show enough interest in the patient.
The core priority list is a powerful communication tool not only with your vendors but also with your patients and with your office staff. Â It puts the patientâ€™s mind at ease and it empowers your staff to act more autonomously, responding to patientâ€™s needs faster, without administrative delays. Â The more coherent and autonomous your staff is, the more satisfied they are with their jobs, resulting in less staff churn.
Which brings us to the next question: Â whatâ€™s your overall purpose for your practice? Â Do you consider it a success or do you think it should grow bigger and generate better profit margin? Â How do you know? Â When was the last time you compared your practice to an industry standard?
1. Chip Heath Â and Dan Heath, Â Â Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, Crown Business; 2013
2. Yuval Lirov and Shecanna Seely, â€œHow to Select the Best Physical Therapy Software for Your Office,â€ Impact APTA PPS, August 2013, pp. 46-50.