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About Philippa Kennealy

Philippa Kennealy MD MPH CPCC PCC is The Entrepreneurial MD Business Coach who wants to help you build your business!
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Tuesday
Mar182014

Physician leaves medicine to found own software business

As a neurology resident, Scott Zimmerman MD became aware that medical practice, beyond the rarefied atmosphere of training, was unlikely to fulfill the needs of his creative spirit.

With this foresight, he began to teach himself coding, scouring as many resources as he could find, between call days and patient care hours.

Zimmerman had spent his undergraduate years at Columbia University, cultivating an interest in economic development, poverty alleviation, and harnessing scalable instruments (namely software and tax policy) to address social ills.

Driven by these passions, his first software applications found their focus.

His gradual realization that medicine was unlikely to offer him the professional fulfillment he sought resulted in a move full-time to software and then the development of his own business -- Xola.com, an integrated booking, marketing, and distribution software used at this time primarily by the travel industry. 

This is a longer interview than usual (about 33 minutes) and I apologize for not sounding smooth (I had had oral work that day), but please enjoy my interview with Dr Zimmerman here -- it was a fascinating, wide-ranging and very insightful conversation and he offers great advice to those of you seeking to divert your futures to a non-clinical career outside of medical practice.

Then please add your thoughts or comments below.

Monday
Feb032014

Physician entrepreneur "serial student" with insatiable desire to learn

Dr. John Shufeldt is a driven man.

While many might consider being driven to accomplish a key ingredient of success, in this case, John is driven to learn, by being a "serial student".

His entrepreneurial bent manifested early – in the slew of moneymaking activities that marked both his childhood and his medical school days. While he always knew he wanted to be a doctor, he couldn't help his desire to improve processes and "things" that he noticed weren't optimized. 

As he describes in his interview with me, his other overwhelming inclination -- his fierce desire to learn -- has had to be assuaged by going back to school every 10 years. First, his MD, followed by his MBA and 10 years later, his JD. That 10 years is almost up and he is getting set for his next adventure as a student.

When I gently accused him of being intimidating to normal folks like us, he protested and pointed out, as he did repeatedly in his book "Ingredients of Outliers" (reviewed here last week), that his journey has been a succession of small "fast failures" (one key to success, by the way), punctuated by intermittent successes. Of course, I think he's being unduly modest… but let's see what your opinion is!

Listen to his fascinating story here, and then return here to add your comments, as I'd love to hear what you think!

By Philippa Kennealy

Tuesday
Jan282014

Book review: "Ingredients of Outliers"

With areas of my office piled high with books (I am a "book pack rat"), once in a while I'll come across a good read about which I feel the urge to enthuse here on my blog. "Ingredients of Outliers" is such a book. (I must fully disclose that I was mailed a review copy when I learned of the book via a press release).

Written by a multifaceted physician/attorney/entrepreneur, John Shufeldt MD MBA JD, this book is subtitled "A Recipe for Personal Achievement". Naturally, the personal/professional fulfillment and happiness physician coach in me was intrigued!!

The term "outliers" was coined most distinctly by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2011 book "Outliers", and Shufeldt has taken it upon himself to explore how this information can help his readers make that leap from ordinary, or modestly talented, to outlier (even if you don't have 10,000 hours to accomplish it!)

In a self-deprecating manner, Shufeldt intertwines stories about his personal journey with those of many highly accomplished, successful men and women to illustrate the points made about each of his "ingredients". Through his entertaining storytelling, he emphasizes his own failures, along with anecdotes and vignettes about the rags-to-riches and humble beginnings of others, including those of many familiar contemporary and historical names.

The 16 chapters detail the "what" and "how" of each ingredient, examples including humility, failing fast, persistence, preparation, kindness, efficiency and so on. And each chapter ends with "Food for Thought" – a brief summary of the chapter's key ideas – and "In Other Words" – a collection of relevant, inspirational quotes.

The net effect is that of an encouraging guide with shared insights being delivered by a highly accomplished and humble man who seems to have surprised himself and others along the way!

Next week, I will have the pleasure of publishing a podcast interview with Dr. John Shufeldt in an attempt to unravel and expose for you the source of his success. 

Thursday
Jan232014

Physician business leaders need excellent Active Listening skills

As business-oriented physicians move increasingly into leadership roles, either in your own businesses, or within your organizations, your ability to communicate effectively will become critical.

And great communication begins with great listening!

Hopefully, as a clinician, you honed the art of listening to your patients. But since we physicians are renowned for interrupting early in a patient visit, and our brains are usually furiously working on diagnosing what is wrong with the patient, it's a fair bet that we are not very good at Active Listening.

What is Active Listening?

Unless our hearing is impaired, we all have the capability of “hearing” what is being said -- we see the mouth move, we hear sounds come out and we recognize words that sound familiar… Or somewhat familiar!

However, not all of us listen

Active listening takes place when the speaker has our full attention, we are not distracted by our own thoughts or planning what we’re going to say next, and we find ourselves becoming curious about and engaged in the topic at hand.

As simple as the following may sound, it rarely happens well in practice. However, if you master these steps, your interpersonal and leadership skills will be dramatically impacted.

The 10 steps to excellent Active Listening:

1. Stop whatever you’re doing and turn towards the speaker, or give him or her your full attention without distraction when you’re on the phone

2. If the speaker is in front of you, begin by making eye contact. Don’t stare at his or her chin or ears … look directly into the eyes, and be sure to soften your gaze so that you don’t appear to be staring or glaring.

3. Active listening engages your entire face and body – you appear intent or animated, your torso may even be angled slightly towards the speaker and your whole body conveys that you are paying attention.

4. Allow a person to finish his or her sentence or thought process. A useful acronym to remember and truly exercise here is W.A.I.T --- “Why Am I Talking?”

Here is an interesting little fact. The 6 letters that make up the word “listen” can be rearranged to make the word “silent”!

5. If you have to interrupt because the story is lengthy, wandering or unduly time-consuming, begin by saying something like “I apologize if I appear rude, but I have to interrupt because …”

6. Refrain from formulating your response until the other person had finished speaking. It’s perfectly okay, at this point, to pause and reflect on how you want to respond, even if there are a few seconds of silence.

7. Try to suspend immediate judgment or, worse still, condemnation. Instead, adopt an attitude of deep curiosity -- make it your goal to discover or uncover what is at the heart of the other person’s communication.

8. This means that you have to ask questions. The best questions are open-ended; they seek to understand, and typically begin with the words “how”, “what”, “when”, and careful use of the word “why” -- avoid sounding like an interrogator with your “why”!

9. Succinctly summarize what it is you heard the other person say, and check in with him or her – “If I understand you correctly, you are saying/wondering/concerned about/asking …”.

10. Ask for clarification if your summary is not entirely accurate. Keep at it, until you feel you have a good grasp of the conversation and/or the speaker’s intent.

Here's to your better listening!

Monday
Jan062014

5 Social Media Tips for Physician Business Owners

Happy New Year to all my readers! May 2014 be one of your most productive, energized and rewarding years.

In the spirit of keeping active with blogging, I have decided to accept an occasional outside guest post on topics that might be useful to or interesting for you --- here is the first one. Please let me know if this is NOT a good plan! 

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In 2012, the average age of physicians in the U.S. was 51. That same year, the average age of a social media user was between 25-44 years old, some sites skewing younger than others. These statistics means there’s a disconnect between physicians with active licenses and their patients or younger clients, at least when it comes to social media.

Social media is a great way to provide better, more engaging patient or client care. Even if you’re not all that proficient in technology and don’t know how to send a tweet, it only takes a few minutes to learn the basics of any one social media platform (or hire a high school student for an afternoon to teach you!). 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using social media in a way that helps you provide lasting, effective service to all your patients or clients.

1. Decide which site is best for you.

Most likely, the vast majority of your patients or clients are going to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest. These are among the most popular social sites in the world and their communities are active on a daily basis. You should invest some time learning one (or more) of these sites and in the basic functionalities that will allow you to communicate. Set up a branded profile, either in the name of your practice or as an individual (think: “The Optometry Gal”, etc.).

2. Have a social media plan.

What are you going to use the site for? Do you need a better way to communicate with patients? Do you intend to build an active, engaged "tribe" around you and your service or product? Perhaps you just need a more effective outlet for disseminating information on pertinent issues, and practice or business updates. Go ahead and carve out time every day (or appoint someone on your staff) to interact on and monitor your social site.

Whatever your decision, plan for this to be an ongoing sustainable educational marketing activity for your practice or business. Remember - this IS within your comfort zone, if you want to avoid the pushy, used car salesman alternative to spreading the word!
 

3. Do research on HIPAA regulations in your state.

Social media is a great way to communicate with people but be mindful of all state and federal regulations that may affect you. Never give out confidential medical information on a social site and be cautious about what kind of “advice” you give to patients. When in doubt, have your default social site statement be that you encourage your social contacts seek care in their physician's office.

4. Make your patients or clients aware of your social presence.

Some of your patients will be happy to know they can schedule appointments via your Facebook page, or even ask you general medical questions (the kind that have broad educational answers) over Twitter. Make sure your patients know where to find you and encourage them to reach out – but be sure you answer! Nothing kills effective social networking faster than the "radio silence" of one party.

5. Promote content that’s useful for sustained results.

Social media is a terrific way to share educational information with patients and clients --- if only you had the time during each visit or contact! For example, you can remind your female patients to get a mammogram every year, or talk about the importance of scheduling a flu shot appointment when winter hits. You can even share studies and articles you’ve found informative. When your social contacts see these kinds of communications coming directly from your medical office or business (that they’ve learned to trust), they’ll be far more likely to read (and heed) it.

How you use social to interact with your patients and clients specifically will greatly depend on your business, the needs of your "followers", and the time you’re willing to put into it. Consider social media one more way to maintain a healthy dialogue with your patients or clients, rather than a time-suck, and you’re well on your way to providing an engaging, active social program within your field.

Guest post by Ryan Currie who is a product manager at BizShark.com, with 5 years experience in online marketing and product development.  In addition to web related businesses, he also enjoys the latest news and information on emerging technologies and open source projects.