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How to Improve Business Acumen in Healthcare (...and why it's important)



When I think of healthcare, I typically envision doctors, nurses, and health professionals running back and forth, solving health mysteries, creating amazing medical innovations, performing cutting edge surgeries, and so much more. It’s very rare that I think of the business that goes into those hospitals and healthcare facilities… but they ARE businesses. True, health facilities don’t typically have the traditional supply and demand business model, but they are definitely judged in the court of public opinion with patient satisfaction ratings. This rating has an impact not just on which patients a facility will draw, but also the talent pool interested in working for the facility, and many other things. Even more complicated, with healthcare, your client wants the outcome of visiting your facility...being healthy, but they don’t necessarily want your product. And who can blame them? The thought of doctor’s visits, surgeries, prescription medicines, and medical tests do not sound like my idea of a good time. So, how can healthcare facilities bridge the gap between healthcare and health to keep their satisfaction ratings high? By employing leaders with business acumen that can break from healthcare tradition and focus on improving customer experience and satisfaction, essentially giving the customer what they want. However, this is easier said than done.


Most healthcare professionals are tasked with managing their own resources, controlling their own budgets...and as we’ve become accustomed to in healthcare, doing more with less...sometimes MUCH less. This applies to everything: less money, less people, but somehow more pressure on providing even better customer care! And if that wasn’t enough (maybe a little known fact to some) many frontline healthcare workers have an enormous impact on the overall cost of healthcare. That’s a lot for one team, sometimes one person on each team, to be responsible for! An even bigger challenge, most of the people assigned with these tasks are functionally brilliant - amazing nurses, doctors, and healthcare providers...but they have very little in the way of business knowledge. So, how can you address this issue? How can you get your team of trained healthcare professionals to THINK like business professionals?


Well we’ve got some tips that can help you improve your team's business acumen!


  1. Read - there are so many amazing resources available if you’re willing to read! Books, articles, and much more focused specifically on learning and growing your business acumen. Set aside time each day to get up to speed on the best business acumen practices, and happenings within the healthcare industry. If you’re looking for a GREAT business acumen book that teaches the essentials, check out our favorite.

  2. Get more familiar with your company - if your company is publicly traded or provides access to financial statements and corporate strategy, make sure you know and understand their important metrics and main business goals. This may sound scary, especially for people who don’t have an intimate knowledge of finance, but don’t worry! We have a bunch of resources that will help walk you through it. If your company is NOT publicly traded, don’t fret. Work with your team to determine your company’s primary objectives and strategies, and how they’d like to achieve these goals.

  3. Pay attention to business and industry news - to have good business acumen it’s essential that you’re in tune with what is going on around the world, country, and specifically in your industry. Stay ahead of changes in policies and trends by staying up to date with what’s happening in the world around you.

  4. Listen to your patients - in order to keep your patients satisfied, you need to know what they are thinking and expecting. Talk to your patients about what they are looking for, what they are happy with, and what helps them to make their decisions on where to go for care.

  5. Seek education - and there’s so many different channels for this! Webinars, videos, podcasts, and formal training. Of course we have our favorites (see links), but there are so many options out there (and many of them are free or very affordable!!)

  6. Cross functional training or stepping out of your normal responsibilities - in order to really understand what is going on around you, it’s essential you understand what the other departments in your facility do, and how they do it. This will help you make better, more informed decisions and plans.

Business acumen isn’t something that you’ll develop overnight, it takes time and practice. However, the unique thing about business acumen is that things you learn you can immediately start implementing. Once you start using your business acumen skills, the effects of it can be seen quickly. So don’t wait! Work on growing your business acumen today.


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