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MOVING FROM COTTAGE INDUSTRY TO PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE

March 20, 2018 Acupuncture Practice Management
From Lemon stands to professionalization - taking full advantage of the benefits of electronic medical records

Did you ever take the initiative to set up a lemonade stand? On summer days in my youth I used to drag my mom’s card table out to our suburban front lawn, tape up a hand-lettered sign, and try to persuade my neighbours to spend a quarter on a delicious cup of my homemade lemonade.

While I’m sure many of my customers lined up to quench their thirst, others probably just wanted to support my precocious entrepreneurial spirit. Others surely liked the homespun charm of a lemonade stand.

And yeah, some customers probably did it as a favor to my mom.

But let’s face it — I was never going to make a million bucks selling lemonade. There were only so many cups I could reasonably sell out there in sleepy suburbia.

In other words, I discovered the limits to my little cottage industry.

TCM practitioners often start out with operations that resemble those neighborhood lemonade stands. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, the human connection that goes with TCM techniques like acupuncture, its distinction from the sometimes cold and dehumanizing Western medical tradition, is often a big part of its appeal. Your acupuncture practice management strategies may not yet be fully formed, but patients frequently embrace the human warmth that comes with a small operation.

Nevertheless, there are limits to successfully running a business in an ad hoc fashion. It takes time for a new clinic to develop a workable business model, but at a certain point you have to step up and embrace professionalization. Although TCM is a school of ancient medical practices, that doesn’t mean clinics need to be stuck in the ancient past. Professionalization allows the good message to spread to more people in search of healing. You’ll also create a familiar ambience for new patients accustomed to the protocols of western medicine.

Professionalization means ensuring your HIPAA compliance and taking full advantage of the benefits of electronic medical records. Fortunately acupuncture clinic management software enables an efficient integration of the many time-consuming responsibilities that come with running a professional clinic.  

And no, professionalization doesn’t have to mean sacrificing the human warmth of TCM. The secret is to hang on to the personal touch while running an efficient and professional clinic. That way you can deliver the best of both worlds. To extend the metaphor, it’s possible to retain the charm of a lemonade stand and also make sure you’re maximizing the potential of your enterprise. It will allow you to sell a lot more cups of lemonade.

Matt Leask