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Never too late to change your business model (Lessons Learned)

I was not looking for a new way of practicing medicine, but sometimes circumstances give you what you need and not what you want.

After 32 years in a traditional OB/Gyn group practice, I was frustrated, unsure of my future, and wanted to stay engaged with patients for as long as possible. Like many physicians, I was smothered in paperwork, strangled by regulations, and simply spending most of my time putting out fires.

I had great partners, a healthy work environment, and a good income, yet after 30 years on the treadmill, I needed to step off and reassess my mission.

Many business owners/entrepreneurs come to the realization at some point in their journey (some sooner than others) that passion and practicality are both necessary for a business to thrive. This duality can be simplified, as the sisters at the former St.Joseph hospital were fond of saying, “where there is no margin, there is no mission.” They knew that any successful business is built on both purpose and sustainability.

In considering a job change, shift in career, or a new practice model, one has to revert to the basics. What problem do you solve? What is the mission? What service do you provide? And can it be financially viable?

As I thought about my future, I wrestled with each of those questions and, after a bit of painful introspection, decided that I could answer all those with confidence.
I could solve the problem of women not getting personalized attention and individualized healthcare. I could serve by giving women a way to be heard, to partner in their care, and not to feel rushed, patronized, or frustrated. I could realize my goal of providing compassionate, quality care that focused holistically on mind, body, and spirit. And I could do all this within the confines of a new practice model
that was financially sustainable.

The current medical model is driven by volume, insurance reimbursement, and responding to symptoms rather than causes. Doctors get 15 minutes, at best, with patients at appointments which leave both parties largely frustrated and unsatisfied. Physicians are paid for doing more, and doing more is driven by symptom treatment rather than prevention.

What if patients have all the time they needed with their doctor? What if prevention was at the foundation of every visit?

MDVIP is a national group that partners with physicians to provide such a model, all in a sustainable practice system.

I have gone from seeing 30-35 folks a day to seeing 8. I spend a minimum of 30 minutes with patients at each appointment, and I get to focus on their wellness in mind, body, and spirit. Sure, I still put out the fires when they occur, but I can confidently say that even those are way down!

The MDVIP model is based on a yearly wellness exam that allows me to spend 2 1/2 hours with a patient assessing their current needs as well as screening for future health issues. Patients get time and attention, and I get the satisfaction of knowing that I am helping to create a healthy legacy for the patient and often her family.

Like many business owners, I thought that if I could just hang on for a few more years of the same old grind that I could then retire and do what I wanted. That is a fallacy. The reality is that what happens today is all you have. That doesn’t mitigate the value in planning, projections, and goals, but those lose their luster if you are unfulfilled in the present.

I could have easily continued on my way, but I would have been angry, unfulfilled, and frustrated. Instead, by clarifying my purpose, following my passion, and finding the right partner for financial viability, I am now able to serve the needs of women in ways I couldn’t have imagined a few years ago.

Want more information? Contact:
Dr. Ron Eaker, MD, FACOG, ABOM
Women’s Health of Augusta
2316 Central Avenue 706.842.4210

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