I love listening to NPR in the evenings. This week, they’ve been doing a three-part series about doctors in primary care.
In this series, they reported on the catastrophic shortage of primary care doctors who provide basic health care (they make around $150,000 a year compared to the multiple six-figure incomes of specialists), and took at look at primary care doctors who were opting for solo practice.
As all of us solopreneurs know, going solo comes with some special challenges.
We have to be more concerned about profitability and leverage. At the same time, as I’ve long been saying, small is the new big.
Nothing wrong with those folks who want to be a big as they can get, but at some point, “big” begins to lose it’s structural integrity and quality. The left hand too often doesn’t know what the right hand is doing or thinking. And people become numbers and transactions instead of, um, people.
In listening to this series, it occurred to me that primary care docs in solo practice might be a perfect market for an enterprising Administrative Consultant. Your knowledge or past background and experience in healthcare or family practice would be a great advantage.
Big companies and corporations don’t really need what we are in business to do because their workloads are so big they really need in-house, dedicated staff–and can afford it. When they are interested, it’s really more in the vein of impersonal, commoditized, transactional outsourcing as cheaply as they can get it. And you as a solo can’t make a living being cheap; that inherently requires a different business model and a much larger scale, volume-driven business.
It’s the smaller companies and solos who really make for the best fit for our business model and what we do because they are the ones that place more value in having a more personal (and personalized) type of ongoing support relationship that allows them to stay boutique-sized (by choice) while being as profitable and efficient as possible so they can give the best quality care and service to their clients. They see, understand and appreciate the value much more easily so it’s a much easier “sell.”
If I was someone interested in this market, what I would be doing is calling up a few primary care solo doctors, inviting them out to lunch (individually) and picking their brains about how they are running their practices, what kinds of administrative work are they fielding, who is doing what now and what areas might they see as not needing to necessarily be in the office, and offer up ideas and get feedback on other areas the doctor didn’t think of.
The enterprising Administrative Consultant, armed with this intelligence about how these businesses are run, what work is involved and where the doctors’ interests are, could then build a whole compelling message and practice around administratively supporting this very specialized target market.
I see all kinds of potential and opportunity here!
It’s a group that certainly meets the first three criteria of a target market:
- It must be able to afford;
- It must have a need for the solution you’re in business to offer; and
- There must be enough of them that you can find them easy enough and there are enough to fill your practice.
And because they are specifically solo/boutique-sized, they are going to be very interested in your support because it will help them have high quality standards in their practice while at the same time making them to be more efficient, streamlined and profitable.
For any of our clients, we offer them an opportunity to actually improve or increase the quality of their own businesses because they can be more profitable and get more done with our help.
On top of that, it will allow existing in-house staff (e.g., physician’s assistants, lab techs) to focus more on their core work which again helps streamline and increase efficiency and quality.
Just think of how much more (and better) patient care can be when in-house staff can focus on “practicing at the top of their license,” and doing what they are most trained to do when they are freed from back-end administrative work that an Administrative Consultant can take on for them.
Here’s a link to one of the articles (which also provides an audio recording if you prefer to listen): Bucking the Trend: Primary Care Doc Practices Solo
Happy enterprising! I’d love to hear from any of you who are already targeting this market or who are interested in looking into it. Let’s hear your success stories.