If you’re like many dermatology practices, you haven’t gotten around to writing a mission statement. Or maybe you did but that was a decade ago and you don’t realize it really needs an evaluation and, likely, a revision. You might wonder how a sentence or short phrase could really affect your practice. But truly, a mission statement is a powerful tool that can drive practice growth, productivity and success when thoughtfully developed and properly utilized.
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Sometimes practice leaders determine the goals of their practice but fall short of communicating the purpose, goals and performance standards in a way that inspires both patients and staff. An actionable mission statement is an excellent tool to begin to accomplish all of this.
Setting aside the proper amount of time and energy to do this well is a cost to your practice. That’s why it’s important that everyone involved understands the potential benefits to the practice by following through on careful development and application of a mission statement. Here are some of the most impactful benefits and key reasons every practice should have a mission statement:
- A thoughtful, relevant mission statement will help staff work in unity toward common goals by prioritizing and defining objectives. The mission statement can be used to identify staff’s most important tasks and individual contributions to successfully living the mission statement and used in performance goals, measurements and reviews.
- Patients can better understand what your practice brings to them, the standard and goals of your practice. This builds confidence in new and potential patients while existing patients are more likely to provide valuable feedback that helps keep your staff accountable and your practice improving.
- It’s just too easy for practices to become fragmented in what individual staff members believe are the strengths, objectives, and focus of the practice. Utilizing your mission statement by which to measure all practice decisions will help you discern ideas that are likely to derail your practice from it’s focus and ultimate success by doing what you do best!
- Mission statements are an excellent marketing tool as they are a part of branding your medical practice and should help steer and determine such things as: how your practice differentiates from others, patient communications, PR, target market, etc.
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An unfortunate fact is that a vast amount of business’s mission statements are stale and meaningless because they either are too vague or too lofty. How will you measure if you’ve succeeded this year in “providing the best dermatological service in the world”? Being ‘best’ means different things to different people for one, and how could any practice determine their standing among their world-wide colleagues? To succeed you need to narrow your focus and not try to be all things to all people; don’t be afraid to use polarizing, interesting words that not every other practice in your specialty could or would use – this is your opportunity to put to paper what makes your practice unique and the passion that drives you to aspire to greatness. An example of this is an audiology practice client of mine that is particularly passionate about providing honest services with good value to patients in a field where they believe patients are often treated dishonestly and sold sub-quality non-prescription products that don’t meet their needs. Their mission statement was simple: To give our patients the honest hearing healthcare they deserve.
NEXT: Develop or revise your mission statement
If you’re ready to take the plunge and finally develop your mission statement - or revise an aging one - keep these tips in mind for optimal results:
- Your mission statement should be decided on by key stake-holders but utilizing a professional consultant to facilitate the process can make it go a lot smoother and make sure the task gets completed. Tapping into staff and patient feedback will bring a broader perspective and may inform you of inconsistencies or perceptions that need to be addressed
- Answers to some – but not all - key questions should be tucked into your mission statement but flow naturally. For example; Are you focused on health and prevention or are you building an aesthetic dermatology practice, what will your patients get at your practice that they won’t find another practice doing as well, what inspires your practice to keep improving, what’s the most important standard in your practice (i.e. the ‘honest’ care in the mission statement example above)?
- Edit, polish, chop – don’t be discouraged by an arduous process of exchanging words, cutting a few sentences down to one, rearranging and simplifying… take your time because a good mission statement will serve multiple functions and live for a long time.
- USE IT! Once you have it, please, please don’t shelf it! It’s your baby! Frame and hang it where patients and staff alike see it regularly, print it in your brochures, tout it on the home page of your website. Practice leaders should use it when strategic planning, when considering new services, interviewing potential new staff or any other major business decisions.
- Bring the team along by reviewing the mission statement with each staff member. Define their specific role and tasks that relate to meeting the mission on a daily basis, then set goals to be revisited during reviews.
Crafting a relevant mission statement can bring your practice together as a team, inspire confidence in patients, and help your practice define and meet performance goals! Now that’s a great ROI – but it’s up to you to make it happen!
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