Friday, December 19, 2014

Tips for Setting Goals

As the year comes to a close, many of us are planning new goals.  Here are some tips to help set appropriate goals, keep on track, and drive success.

There are likely a million different goals you want to accomplish from growing sales, reducing costs or losing 10 pounds. You can’t do it all. Too many goals are overwhelming. Prioritizing will allow you to focus to be more successful.

Action Plan
Crafting an action plan of how you are going to accomplish the goal will force you to think of the behaviors, tactics, and resources needed. If the goal is to lose weight, going to the gym three days of week and cutting out dessert would be part of your action plan. If your goal is growing sales, your action plan might include increasing your marketing budget or hiring a new sales rep.  List detailed steps and create a timeline for your action steps.

Involve Others
Goals are rarely accomplished in a vacuum. Others are directly or indirectly influencing your success.  Business goals need group activities and team buy-in to be accomplished.  Personal goals can be encouraged by moral support such as a work out buddy or family plans to eat better. Support systems are vital to keeping focus.

What is measured gets done.  If you measure results weekly, you will know where you are at to your goal.  These results will motivate you to keep on track or redirect your activities for better results.

If you aren't where you want to be, you might need to change tactics.  Increase the days at the gym or cut more calories for weight lost goals.  If your sales aren't meeting expectations, research a different marketing campaign or new sales person.  By examining what is working and what isn’t, you can adjust to guide towards success.

When you reach milestones, celebrate your success.  These can be small things such as a company pizza party or a personal gift you had your eye on.  These celebrations help you stay motivated to push through towards your goal.

Being focus, realistic, and tracking your results will lead to goal accomplishment.  How do you set goals and keep on track?  Share your tips below.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tips for Planning a Successful New Year

In the hustle bustle of the holiday season, many of us are also closing year and planning the future.  There are many ways to forecast to create the strategy and tactics to reach your goals.  Here are the high level steps to help you craft a plan towards success.

Data Diving
One of the first place to look before going forward is by looking back. Take a historical look at what worked and what didn't this past year.  Review end of the year reports based on your collective goals. Evaluate what efforts helped reach your goals. Decide what can be changed, tweaked, or remove to drive better results in the new year.

Competitive Analysis
Another helpful piece of information looking at what your competition is doing. Are they going after new markets, offering a new product, at a different price point or brand message?  Determine if you want to be a me-to or go a different direction.  You need to have a unique selling proposition for your business model that differentiates you verses your competitors.  Keep this in mind as you plan.

Marketing and Sales Plan
This is where the rubber meets the road. You can do a lot data analysis and market research, but your sales plan is where your brand message and product/service offering is broadcast to the world. This should be a heaviest hitting part of your plan for the year. Here you decided what sales efforts, advertising, and promotions you are running. Determine if you are launching new product, attending new events, hiring new staff and beyond. 

Put it all Together
Crunch the numbers and create the forecast for success. This isn't a true crystal ball into the future but should you a rough idea of direction. Review all these pieces with your team. Get collective buy-in on the path. Is the plan realistic, achievable, are you taking into account potential roadblocks or contingency plans for uncontrollable items such as government regulation.  

Now that you have the plan, go forth and prosper. Remember the old adage what gets measured gets done. Monitoring the success of your plan and adjusting as appropriate will keep you on track. 

How does your team plan for the new year? Do you have tips that might help us all? Please share below. Happy Planning!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Increase Accountability

Being accountable is doing what you said you would do when you said you would do it.  Not completing tasks or missing deadlines causes loss of credibility and the respect of others.  Driving accountability within an organization or department will increase efficiency, create a more trusting team, and help accomplish collective goals.  Here are the tools to increase accountability.

Time and Dates
Assign time and dates to projects.  Sounds simple but many forget this critical piece.  Collectively agree on what day and what time the project is due. An example is Friday, Oct 31st at 3:00 pm. Review and confirm that all parties agree on this time. Now you must hold the person or team accountable to meeting that agreed upon timeline.

Tracking Progress
Many projects have various pieces that must be managed through – the art of project management.  Create appropriate check-ins on progress. The frequency and amount of meetings depends on the project and the personnel. These touch base meetings keep you plugged in and aware if anything is getting off track. If something is falling behind, you can adjusted as appropriate.  This check-in process should remove any surprises of things falling through the cracks or a missed deadline.

Not every task assigned needs this level of management.  Prioritize the key projects that are strategic initiatives for your department or team.  Having ten projects due on the same day and time won’t drive great results.  Properly prioritizing what needs to be done and by when will create mutual trust by all parties. It also means the team is working on is the most important projects.

Missed Deadlines and Excuses
Even with these steps, deadlines can be missed. Generally the "why" excuses are the focus on the conversation following an accountability issue. Challenge yourself not to ask about the why. Refocus the conversation on what are the next steps to get the project done, when it will be done, and can you count on them to complete it. Both agree this is the new deadline.  If you have this conversation multiple times, this is a sign that something is wrong with the process or the employee. 

Creating a culture of accountability will produce a more successful business.  Be diligent and reinforce time and dates, track results, and measure alignment with your team. This will ensure you have the right work force who respects the business needs and are credible to get the job done.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Change Management

Change is a fact of life. Many of our professional roles involve managing change through out our teams or organizations. Change can be difficult and everyone handles it differently. Creating a solid change management strategy will ease the transition and drive acceptance.

The Plan
Once a change need is defined, create a structured plan.  Map out all the areas that will be impacted. Think of the who and the what. Pull in appropriate employees for their insights and suggestions.  This helps secure buy-in because they were part of the process to mold the changes. Create a time-line of what is happening when and share the details with all impacted. 

Find the Wins
There is a reason behind the change.  Possibly this change will improve efficiency, drive more sales, or reduce costs. Continually highlighting the positive impacts of this change provides the “why” and helps impacted parties work through the change process to obtain those wins.

Add pre-testing, mock trials, and run-throughs to your time-line. You and the team have tried to think of all contingencies but likely there will be bumps along the way.  Ask for feedback and suggestions. Open dialogue and a positive attitude can help move things forward. A good sense of humor and knowing this too shall pass can go a long way.

Review Results
Evaluate as the process moves forward.  Frequent check-ins at the beginning of the change will make your team feel supported. Then move to weekly or monthly evaluations. This may capture unforeseen snags or new issues that might have bubbled up from the change. 

Change can be challenging but moves us forward. Continual and relevant communication before, during, and after the process is vital to implementing successful change. 

Have other change management tips?  Please share your comments below!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Strategic Supply Chain Management

Supply items add up.  It is estimated that the supply chain can make up 30-50% of a hospital’s expenses.  In 2020 medical supplies will surpass labor as the biggest expense for hospitals and health systems.  These are some big stats. Much of the time the focus has been on cost cutting ,but that isn't always the best answer. Quality is still a concern. Supplies need to perform and drive successful patient outcomes.  Suppliers who can provide high quality while offering lower costs will win the game.  Here are some tips for strategic supply chain management.

Cost Analysis
This is the given but the old adage of what gets measured gets done is true. Take the time to re-evaluate your product lines.  This can be quarterly, annually or beyond.  Have a system and analyze if you are still using the right supplier or it is time to make a change. Negotiate costs based on your volume increase, raw materials data, or buying in larger quantities at a time.  The key is to not be complacent.  Continue to fight for the bigger, better deal.

Look for ways to increase efficiencies.  There are endless technologies from software, apps, or complete ERP systems that can improve your processes.  If you save time doing administrative or repetitive items, you can spend more time doing what you do best.  Look for ways to automate to conserve your biggest resource – time.

Relationship Building
Take time to forge relationships with your vendors.  Know what makes them tick. Learn about their lives beyond their product or service.  Set up a calendar for touch base contacts such as phone calls, emails, or written letters.  Move beyond just the digital world.  This helps you negotiate more effectively and builds a partnership mindset to drive the win-win agreements.

Cross Reference
Determine the value proposition. Most of want to know what is in it for me to move business or convert to a new line.  Request a cross reference from your vendors to show the savings and value they can provide.  A value analysis is a priceless tool that provides hard data to prove savings and the value of a move.

It is more important than ever to create a supply chain strategy.  Have other tips to help your peers?  Please leave suggestions in the comment section below.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What are ACOs?

ACO stands for Accountable Care Organization.  These groups are growing in number driven by healthcare reform. ACOs are groups of hospitals, doctors, or other healthcare providers who come together to coordinate care for Medicare patients.  The mission of ACOs are to ensure that Medicare patients get the right care at the right time while avoiding duplication of services and preventing medial errors. Their goal is to help control costs and improve the quality of care. 

What does this mean to the supply chain?  Vendors and supply chain professionals will be important partners. With many of the ACOs, physicians are now the main decision-makers and value-purchasing is becoming important. Key items that will impact the supply chain are information management, vendor alignment, and physician and clinical integration.  Determine how your business can assist in those efforts.  Being a resource for these new organizations will solidify your involvement and hopefully grow your business.

Earlier this year CMS released an ACOs performance report for the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).  The results were mixed. There were 29 of the 114 Medicare ACOs who saved $128 million for the Medicare trust fund and additional 25 spent less than their benchmarks.  However 60 organizations scored below budget and 85 organizations failed to produce savings.*  Most experts agree these are not bad results for the first year of many of these programs. The ACOs that are lagging behind are learning from the successful organizations to improve results as they go forward.

Time will tell how ACOs change the provider landscape and how customers are impacted. Keeping up with the constant shifts in healthcare is important and evaluating how your organization fits into the picture if vital to long term success.

*Source: Stats were provided from ACO Insights Magazine. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Networking Tips

We have all heard the old adage it is not what you know but who you know. Many times this can be true.  By creating a solid network of dependable and diverse contacts, you can navigate many career challenges.  Here are some easy tips to make networking easier.
Define who you want in your network.
Are there contacts or types of people you would like to know but haven’t had the opportunity?  Make of list of those people and do a bit of homework.  Research what events, industry groups, or publications they are aligned with.  Find out where they might be appearing or possibly garner their contact info from an industry article. Being involved and reaching out takes initiative but you will be amazed at the doors it might open.

Know Yourself and Be Yourself
Have a define plan of what you want to get out of your actions. Create a brief elevator speech about who you are and where you are hoping to go.  This is useful for any introduction situation whether at  a networking event, a business meetings, or other life events.  Remember to be yourself. Be prepared with conversation starters such as "what brought you to today's event".  Relax and let the conversation flow naturally.

Follow Up
Do what you say you will and follow through on your word.  If you said you would email someone that recent article or send their contact info along to one of your contacts, have the integrity to do what you say.  This builds your credibility and respect within your network.

Build Relationships
Now that you added these contacts to your network, connected via LinkedIn, or signed up for their blog, be sure to stay in contact.  Check in occasionally and ask how they are doing or what projects they are working on.  These are relationships where you should invest time to strengthen the connection.

Building a strong professional network can help you achieve your career goals. You will have resources to bounce ideas off of or our offer solutions when challenges arise. Take time to invest in cultivating these relationships and reap the rewards!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Home Healthcare Trend

America has an aging population.  This should come as no surprise, but the rate at which we are aging is quite telling. There are 40.4 million seniors in the U.S. which is 12% of the population. In 20 years, that number will total 70 million making up 20% of the population. If that isn’t telling enough did you know that every 13 seconds another person in the US turns 65? That is more than 10,000 people turning 65 everyday.  These stats paint the picture of an aging population that will need increased medical care.  Additionally people are living longer, lengthening the need of care.

This aging yet active demographic coupled with healthcare reform and cost saving measures are driving more care back into the home.  There is less overhead by treating in the home and many studies show patients respond better when in their own surroundings.  There are two types of homecare based on the level of skilled care needed. One is companion or non-medical.  This generally revolves around helping with daily activities like transportation. Complex care includes things like diabetes management, oxygen or infusion treatments, or physical therapy given in the home. The amount of home healthcare and personal care aids has grown to 1.3 million which is a 70% increase send 2010. The demand for home care will keep increasing as the population continues to age.

The question is what is your business doing to tackle this growth and be a resource for this growing demand.  Can you service these patients directly by expanding your offering or changing your delivery? Or can your business supply products to assist in home healthcare providers provide quality care?  If you are already in the home care market, what can you do differently to gain more share of the market. Challenge your teams to think outside the box and brainstorm new ideas.

How is your business using the home healthcare trend to grow? Comment below and share your thoughts.  The opportunity is there for the taking.    

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Increase Your Productivity

Have a Plan
On Sunday evening take a moment to define the week.  Craft of a vision of how the week will unfold.  Define items you need to accomplish and set reminders for things like doctor appointments, recitals, or when your big report is due. Little things such as setting out your clothes or making the kids' lunches the evening before will  avoid the morning rush to make the day to flow more smoothly.  

Make a List
To-do lists help organize what you need to do but they need to be realistic.  Having a list of 50 things and only 2 hours to complete the list isn’t going to happen.  Assign time to each task such as 15 minutes or an hour.  This helps evaluate the time needed for each task. Prioritize your list by most important. Now you know what you need to do by when and the time needed for each item.

Block out Time
Life has a way of interrupting when you are trying to get work done. A phone call, the urgent email, or the coworker who needs immediate help inevitably impedes progress. To combat this block off time in your day to tackle specific items. Close your door, turn off the email, put your phone on do not disturb.  You will accomplish much more if you focus solely on a dedicated task.

Avoid digital distractions
We love to see the latest tweets, facebook updates, or read emails immediately but we can get in the habit of always being connected. This leads to a feeling of constant multitasking. Turn off email alerts and check messages every 30 or 60 minutes. You can fully engaged on the project at hand. Another tip is to consolidate all your different emails accounts into one by automated forwards. Then you aren’t having to check various accounts so often.

Have a Life
Create blocks of time to focus on having fun with your family or friends.  Schedule an evening out or enjoy some of your hobbies .You need to make time to decompress. This helps clear your mind providing the ability to focus more intensely when you need to.

You can increase your productivity and actually have more free time just by making small changes to how you approach each day.  Have other productivity tips to share?  Please comment below and let’s get more stuff done together!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Be a Rock Star Buying Agent

Being a buyer in the medical industry has become more challenging in the last few years. Juggling issues such as reform, competitive bidding, and pressures to reduce costs seem to decrease the odds of your success.  Here are few tips to help you improve and reach rock star status!

Eye for Details
Missing notes makes any rocker sound bad.  Keep an eye on details such as pricing, terms, freight, and the fine print in contact agreements.  Although pricing is always top of mind, paying attention to quality of your buys is critical.  Saving a few pennies isn’t always worth products falling apart, not servicing a patient well, or the complaints that will later roll back to your desk.

Get the best gig. Strong negotiation skills go a long way to securing the best deals.  Remember negotiation includes details beyond pricing. Securing beneficial terms and conditions often go further than a price decrease.  Remember to think about payment terms such as discounts for early payment or including freight on your POs.  These can add up to big wins for the bottom line.

Create Efficient Reports
Have the right sheet music. Setting up systems for reordering, alerts for low items, price discrepancies, and freight changes will make your work day flow like practiced orchestra.  Work with your IT department and administrators to create automated reports that run on demand or generate automatically.  Having the right data at the right time will help you work efficiently and effectively.

Build Relationships
Create your fan base. Setting phone calls with your vendors allows you to stand out from the crowd in the world of email and voicemail tag.  Try using humor and knowing a bit about your vendors’ personal lives and interests.  Asking how Johnny did in his last ballgame or the discussing the latest reality show your vendor can’t live without can lead to bonding moments.  These stronger relationships will drive more successful negotiations and longer term agreements allowing you to work smarter not harder.

Team Player
Don’t always perform the guitar solo.  Find ways to help your co-workers and vendors. Avoid the big ego and my way or the highway approach. Inevitably situations will arise and favors will need to be called upon.  Being able to work together as a team will get fires put out and make solutions a win-win for all parties. 

To stay a relevant rock star one must keep evolving. Invest in continuing education, read trade publications and incorporate some of these tips in your daily processes.  You can be a Rock Star Buyer that keeps climbing the charts!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Healthcare Industry Trends for 2014

Change is all around us - from how we interact with our family, buy groceries, or do our jobs. Just like our daily lives, these shifts impact the medical world. Here are 5 leading trends we will see in the healthcare industry for 2014. 

What are ACO's? Accountable Care Organizations are groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers who coordinate their work together to provide care for Medicare patients.  Basically these organizations are accountable for how they are using medicare funds and making collective decisions for the best care and best costs for patients.  ACO's continue to grow in numbers and many are looking at ways to become involved.

Price Transparency
The demand for better price transparency continues to increase.  From confusing medical bills and insurance-speak, consumers are left confused and frustrated.  Providers who are making it a priority to have stronger transparency will likely win over patients and consumer appeal.

Digital Technology
Technology is integrated all we do. The medical world needs to keep up.  Mobile, social, and cloud technologies will impact how organizations interact with their patients, suppliers, and within their business.  Patient want access to medical assistant beyond the clinic or doctor's office.  The most successful providers will be embracing these technologies.

Home Care Expansion
Driving care into the patient homes continues to grow.  Home care drastically reduces overhead, cutting some costs by 30%, it is convenient for the patients, and overall increases the quality of care because patients generally do better in home environments.

Wellness Incentives
Companies large and small are now offering incentives for healthy behaviors.  These incentives can be gift cards, cash rewards, or discounts on health insurance. The organization has a healthier work force which reduces sick days and insurance costs.  Employees are rewarded with health and incentive perks.

How are you seeing or capitalizing on these trends within your organization?  Please share your thoughts below. Wishing you a very Happy New Year - let's make it the best one yet!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Setting Goals and Sticking to Them

It's January and many of us are diving into our resolutions with a passionate cry that this year I will stick with my goals! Wait -- didn’t we say that last year….and the year before that? Sticking to new goals is a challenge. Here are some ways to set appropriate goals and successfully accomplish them.
Define the Goals
- Create a clear definition of what your goal is.
- Be clear on the “why” of the goal which is your motivation.
- If you have more than one goal, group them into categories
- Tackling too many goals is a recipe for failure. Stick to a few key goals.
The Road Map
- A critical step is defining the how-to with monthly, daily, weekly steps.
- Put each step on a calendar to keep it top of mind and direct a clear path.
Evaluation – Practice not Perfection
- Put check-ins on the calendar to review progress
- Reviewing will drive more meaning to the goal and redirect efforts if needed.
- Each quarter ask questions such as - is the goal still relevant, how would you grade your progress, can you do other things to improve?

Celebrate the Wins
- Encouragement along the way keeps you engaged to accomplish your goals.
- Changing isn’t all or nothing. Celebrate victories with small rewards.
Example Goals
  • Business Goal:
    Define - grow sales by 5%
    Motivation - a more profitable business
    Map - create monthly retail sales promotion with help of sales team
    Evaluation - monthly review of sales results,what worked what didn't
    Celebration - quarterly catered lunch, bonus at year end if achieve goal
  • Health Goal:
    Define - Reach my goal weight of 150 lbs
    Motivation - a healthier me to be active and live longer
    Map - sign up and calendar an exercise class and attend 3 days a week
    Evaluation - monthly weigh in and review of efforts
    Celebration - quarterly get new shoes, year end a full spa day
Remember that life is about the journey. You will learn, you will fall, and you will grow– with focused intention, a plan, and self awareness you can stick with those goals and make them happen!