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MONTHLY TAX NEWSLETTERMarch 2013
Whether you have your own practice, are a partner in a large group practice, work at a large company such as a hospital or research center, or are not even a health care professional, maximizing your "internal marketing" is a must. So agrees Fred Joyal, co-founder of 1-800dentist, in his book Everything is Marketing: The Ultimate Strategy for Dental Practice Growth.
Fred's basic premise is quite simple. "Patients can’t assess quality of care, but they can assess their own experience." Think about your own experience when going to a dentist or physician, having your taxes done, meeting with an attorney, or getting your car fixed. Don't you just automatically assume the person is proficient in their profession or trade?
Fred starts his book on marketing for dentists by talking about the difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer. “A satisfied customer got what they expected. A loyal customer experienced something unexpected.” Fred goes on to explain that while a satisfied patient will keep coming back to your practice, only a loyal patient routinely refers their family members, friends and co-workers to you and your practice.
Think about the professionals you regularly recommend to people. And then think about those you wouldn't recommend to your arch enemy in a million years. Fred is right. It's all about the experience, right?
Please keep in mind that the patient experience isn't limited to when he or she is "sitting in the chair". The experience starts when the person researches which Doctor to call and then books an appointment, continues through the pre-appointment correspondence, followed by being greeted at your office by your front desk staff, and ends with the follow up information and/or phone call, paying the bill, and responding to your patient survey. Is your operation set up to maximize the patient experience at each and every step of the process?
I recently had a simple procedure at a local outpatient clinic. Prior to the procedure, the GI practice sent me a copy of instructions to follow the day prior to the procedure. The copies looked as though they were made by a 5 year-old child on a Xerox machine from the 1970s. Based on the poor qualify of the pre-procedure materials they sent to me, I didn't feel overly confident about the care I would be receiving from this group. I ended up a satisfied customer, but I most likely wouldn't refer anyone to this group if asked for a recommendation of a GI doc.
What do you need to do to reach that higher threshold of patient satisfaction? For starters, according to Fred, you can maximize the patient experience through:
If someone is trying to tell you something, that person wants to be heard at that time. Let the person fully explain their situation, and listen intently to what he or she is saying. Interrupting the person or finishing their sentences does not demonstrate empathy.
For many of us, listening is a skill that we never fully developed. Remember, at most schools in the US, we learn to read, write, and speak. Very few schools teach us to listen.
And while empathy is a trait that some people are born with, all people can learn to be empathetic. Trust me, as a Schwartz, I was born with very little empathy, but feel that over the years I have managed to learn to be much more empathetic when dealing with others in my home and professional life.
If you've had the privilege of reading Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he discussed Empathetic Listening in great detail. I strongly recommend that you read this book at some time if you haven't already done so. (This past summer and fall, we had a book club in my office and read one habit per month starting in May. It was a big hit and we all learned a lot by discussing the chapters together.)
What are some easy ways that Fred recommend to maximize the patient experience by doing something unexpected?
My closing bit of advice? Read Fred's book. I read it and ended up instituting changes in my CPA firm based on recommendations that Fred made to the dental community. During one of our staff meetings, we utilized the chapter on phone scripts and took turns reading his recommendations for the right way and the wrong way to handle certain situations. Even though the scripts were for a dental office, everyone found this exercise to be very worthwhile.
After reading the book, think about every aspect of the experience you are offering your patients, clients, or customers, and determine what you can do to maximize each person's experience. Ask your staff to help come up with ideas. Then take the steps necessary to improve the internal marketing at your practice. Hopefully you'll soon see an uptick in referrals coming to your office, and the improvements you have implemented at your practice will become as routine to you and your staff as going to the dentist.
Check out Form 8396, Mortgage Interest Credit. According to the IRS:
Mortgage Interest Credit
The mortgage interest credit is intended to help lower income individuals afford home ownership. If you qualify, you can claim the credit each year for part of the home mortgage interest you pay on Form 8396.
You may be eligible for the credit if you were issued a qualified Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) from your state or local government. Generally, an MCC is issued only in connection with a new mortgage for the purchase of your main home.
The MCC will show the certificate credit rate you will use to figure your credit. It also will show the certified indebtedness amount. Only the interest on that amount qualifies for the credit.
You must contact the appropriate government agency about getting an MCC before you get a mortgage and buy your home. Contact your state or local housing finance agency for information about the availability of MCCs in your area.
How to claim the credit. To claim the credit, complete Form 8396 and attach it to your Form 1040 or Form 1040NR. Include the credit in your total for Form 1040, line 53, or Form 1040NR, line 50; be sure to check box c and write “Form 8396” on that line.
Questions about Mortgages:
If you have any questions about refinancing your current mortgage or getting a new mortgage in connection with purchasing a home, feel free to reach out to Bob Cahill, Senior Mortgage Banker at Leader Bank, N.A.. At my firm, we frequently refer our clients with mortgage needs to Bob.
Speaker Andrew Schwartz, CPA
Are you unsure what expenses you can deduct from your moonlighting income? Not sure what to track all year for professional expenses? Do you want to make sure you receive the maximum deduction allowed for work-related expenses? If so, this previously recorded webinar is for you! Learn what the most common expenses allowable for healthcare professionals are and how to track them to make tax time easy!
Speaker Richard Schwartz, CPA
Are you looking for a recap of the 2013 tax law changes and how they’ll impact you? Do you need help navigating your retirement planning options for 2013? If so, this previously recorded webinar is for you! Learn what tax changes are coming in 2013 to capital gains, deductions, personal tax rates, Medicare and Social Security. Rick also covered how to choose the retirement vehicles that will bring you the most savings.
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