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Look back to lead forward

By Cheryl Toth, MBA  bio

Every autumn, it’s easy to get bogged down with next year’s budget crunching, fret about the unveiling of Medicare’s new conversion factor, or worry about the amount of this year’s physician bonuses. Because in the harried life of a practice manager, it’s easy to focus on what hasn’t been done and forget just how many things have.

So that’s exactly what you need to do this month. You’ve accomplished a lot in 2016. It’s time to recognize these successes.

Sometime this week, close your office door, play your favorite CD or Pandora station, and take 30 minutes to thoughtfully answer these questions.

1. What three things are you most proud of accomplishing in the practice this year?

Did you finally find the right person to fill the billing supervisor role? Or set up electronic remittance advice for nearly all payors? Put these accomplishments on paper, print them, and read them a few times. Savor the fact that whatever state of chaos the practice or the partners are in at the moment, you led the practice toward these successes in the last nine months. Be proud of that. If you’re creative, add color or graphics to the page. If you’re courageous, hang the page on your wall or leave it out on your desk and admire it.

2. As you reflect on these three accomplishments, what exactly was it that supported your ability to achieve them? What were the “how points” that enabled success?

Perhaps it was your ability to communicate your plan clearly and consistently. Or a physician champion. Or an externally imposed deadline such as the end of a lease. Whatever the “hows,” record them mentally or on paper. The next time you are frustrated about a project’s inertia or an implementation that just won’t stick, remember how you achieved this year’s accomplishments. Then consider using some of the same techniques and wisdom with the challenge at hand.

3. What three steps or milestones have you taken toward the achievement of larger goals? 

It’s easy to think you haven’t been successful because you haven’t completed an entire project or task. But the truth is every goal or project is replete with lots of small milestones along the way. Don’t overlook these incremental successes. They are still successes. For instance, getting all the year-plus-old A/R written off to bad debt as part of an overall A/R improvement project is no easy feat. Yet it’s only one piece of a greater project pie. Stop and recognize the completion of “pie pieces” such as these, and share them at staff and partner meetings. They communicate momentum and demonstrate results.

4. What three things are you most proud of achieving in your personal life this year?

Did you run your first 10K? Finish terracing the back yard? Read a book every month like you promised yourself you would? At the outset, these things may seem unrelated to your role as a manager. But they’re not. The more fulfilled you feel in your personal life, the happier you are when you show up at the office. Your mental well-being is an essential part of being productive at work. So give yourself credit for these things too.

Cheryl Toth, MBA is a Consultant and Trainer with KarenZupko & Associates. She is passionate about leveraging technology to work smarter, improving the patient experience, and coaching practice leaders to thrive in the midst of chaos and change. Cheryl brings 20 years of consulting, training, technology product management, and marketing to her projects. Reach her at

KarenZupko & Associates teaches coding and reimbursement workshops for multiple specialties. Details at

The above information is shared by a guest contributor and does not necessarily reflect the views of Medical Office Manager.









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