Are Distractions Ruining Your Practice?

By: Susan Hoy, CA

It all started in late November with a simple little decision to upgrade our computer system. It seemed quite harmless. We decided to network our computers through Windows 8 instead of our old 98’ network and to upgrade our existing Chiropractic software to the new Windows environment, too. I used to sell computers and software and I know what a nightmare a “simple upgrade” can be, but this time I was anticipating very few problems.

Well, things started falling apart right away. First, Wali (our insurance specialist) informed me that she would be taking some time in December to have surgery. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear, but I figured everything would work out.

Our computer consultant hooked up the hardware with ease and the new network seemed to be working fine. So far, so good! The software specialist came the next day and installed our new upgrade. Yet another easy installation. The next step was to import our data onto the new system. Wow, even that went off without a hitch! Training was scheduled for our staff the following day. Our software trainer arrived and showed us the new changes. I started getting a little uncomfortable. Windows 8 was very different, and I worried that the change would frustrate our employees. Nothing seemed the same.

In the back of my mind, I knew that Wali would have some problems getting all of her work completed before her surgery if the computer system slowed her down. I hoped I was wrong. Our training was completed and before we went home everyone felt confident that we were well trained.

I don’t know what happened—I think gremlins attacked our brains that night, because when we arrived for work the next day, we all became stupid. It was as if we had never seen a computer before. Nothing worked! Robbi, our front desk CA, couldn’t remember what she had to do to get into her routine. Everything seemed foreign. To make matters worse, her computer kept shutting down and turning itself off for no apparent reason.

One of Robbi’s favorite books is You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay. Hay’s theory is that every physical condition is from an emotional upset. Well, Robbi made that theory come true. One hour with our new computer and Robbi’s contact fell out and ripped. Not only was she frustrated, but now she couldn’t see, either. After only spending a few hours with our new computer, Robbi was also complaining of flu symptoms! I called it “computeritis.” I reluctantly told her to go home, and I didn’t see her again for a week. I took her place. One down, three to go!

Those gremlins continued causing problems; one by one, each computer would suddenly shut down until we started having data problems. I could hear Wali in the insurance office sharing strong, uncomplimentary words with her computer as she feverishly tried to get her work completed. I felt like Lucille Ball on the candy assembly line—everything was going fast except the computer! Within a week, we all were so frustrated, our work was piling up and nothing was working right. Wali was looking forward to surgery by this time. I think I heard her say, “Get me out of here!” Luckily, Robbi recovered from the flu, but she no sooner came back to work and Laura got computeritis. I took Laura’s place working with the doctor. I also took Wali’s place doing the insurance billing. My mood was not improving, and my own work was piling up!

To make matters worse, our practice was slowing down. What was happening is exactly what I preach about in my seminars. As soon as we take our focus away from the patients, the patients stop coming! Any time there is a major distraction in the inner workings of the practice the focus shifts and is inwardly projected. I could see it happening, but there are times when it cannot be avoided.

Dr. Snyman would come to me in the insurance room in major frustration. “Susan, get out here at the front desk. It’s like a morgue out here! We’re not focusing on the patients.” I already knew that, but I also knew that if the insurance billing didn’t get done, our cash flow would be severely affected and Dr. Snyman would start getting upset about that. I always say that your patients are your bread and butter, but your billing/collections is your pay check. I suspected that no pay check in December would get Dr. Snyman’s attention as well (not to mention the rest of our staff).

January came, but our patients didn’t! Our practice was feeling the effects of our inward focus and distraction. Our computer problems were slowly being solved but not without some major attention which took me away from the patients. The stress of the situation caused me to get computeritis, too! Finally, I succumbed and had to take a whole week off. Until then, I had only taken one sick day in nine years!

Dr. Snyman wanted to blame the lack of patients on the staff. I know from speaking to staff members that this is not unusual. Whenever I hire a new staff member, I tell him/her that our ultimate job is to keep Dr. Snyman focused on the patient. I sincerely believe that he is a healer, as long as he focuses on his adjustment. However, this much I know to be true: When he is distracted with other things while in the adjustment room, his adjustments become less effective. The secret to a healing adjustment is Present-Time Consciousness (PTC). When the doctor is worried about what the staff is doing or saying or some other distraction, we begin losing patients. It never fails.

I do not believe that any practice is immune to difficult problems such as our “Disastrous December.” We all have them. The important key is to recognize that they are happening, take steps to solve the problem as quickly as possible, and to make the utmost effort to have PTC.

Well… all bad things must end, and I am happy to report that most of the gremlins have “bugged out” of our computers. Our staff is back to full force—not without the flu revisiting us several times, however. I have never seen the flu bug as bad as it was in Philadelphia this year. It seemed to visit the healthy people and had a profound effect on our business.

Our stressful December has ended. Our practice has been hitting record numbers again, thanks to our quick action to solve problems and our awareness that, while we know distractions are inevitable, they must not go on for too long. Dr. Snyman is giving healing adjustments, and the staff is healthy and focusing on patients. My advice for a healthy practice is outward focus on patients and Present-Time Consciousness. Have a great year, and watch out for those bugs!

About the Author

Susan Hoy has been the office manager for Dr. Basil Snyman since 1989. Snyman Chiropractic Group is in Center City, Philadelphia and has been serving Philadelphia professionals and residents for two generations.