New Years Resolutions for Doctors

Posted on: January 12, 2017 by Chuck Krugh, CFP

The New Year is traditionally a time to act on plans for self-improvement. Millions of Americans will be working to lose weight, to achieve success at work, improve their 2 mile run time, or to achieve a variety of financial and personal goals. Here are some great New Year’s resolutions for doctors to consider:

  • Go into private practice. Thousands of physicians dream of leaving the employer behind and going into private practice entirely for themselves. To do so takes a lot of work and planning. If this isn’t your year, consider making this a year for laying the foundation for going into private practice in future years. For example:
    • Take concrete steps to improve your business and financial knowledge so you are a competent business owner as well as a competent physician. Many people go into private practice and find out to their chagrin that these are two very different skill sets!
    • Purchase life and disability coverage that you, not your employer, own and control. That way, your coverage will go with you when you strike out on your own. When it comes to benefits, portability is key for handling that transition.
  • Increase your savings. Studies consistently show that it’s dedication to saving, not returns on investments, that makes the difference between a comfortable retirement and a not-so-comfortable one. This is especially true when you adjust the numbers for risk. If you can control spending and regularly set aside money, starting early in your career, you can achieve terrific success without having to take on a lot of portfolio risk.

If you fail to do so, then either you must increase risk (and increase the risk of failure) to catch up through higher returns, or you will have to put up with a less comfortable retirement.

Live on less than you make – and of course, protect your income that will generate your retirement savings through life, disability and long-term care insurance.

Some examples of more specific New Years’ resolutions doctors may make could be “fully funding a Roth IRA this year,” or “Start a solo 401(k) or SEP retirement plan” and fully fund that (though that takes a bit more money!)

  • Embrace technology. Technology is transforming the way we provide health care, as well as the way we market it, communicate information about it, bill for it and get paid for it. The transformation is going to accelerate, and it’s going to be substantial. Doctors who don’t take steps to educate themselves about all manner of technology are going to be left behind, or be at the mercy of those who do grasp technology. If you want to go into private practice, then grasping the finer points of website design, health care information storage and security, digital marketing, telemedicine and telecommunication, electronic coding and billing, mobile technology, scheduling, Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) coding, ICD-10 coding, human resources programs and a thousand other technology applications is going to be key. Make a point to grasp the basics of each of these technologies, and at least remain aware of who the major vendors are, the advantages and disadvantages of the major systems available to small practices and individual physicians, and learn enough to stay out of hot water with HIPAA compliance auditors!

One possible source of low-hanging fruit: Kick off a telehealth practice if you haven’t already.  According to a 2014 study, 90 percent of health care services leaders surveyed say they are either already rolling out their own telehealth service initiatives or were planning to do so.

  • Do financial planning. For some people, this could be as basic as updating a will and ensuring you’re fully-funding your retirement plans that you’ve already set up. Others may be starting from scratch. But at a minimum, you should make a point of having a will, a living will/advanced health care directive, appropriate powers of attorney in place, life insurance, homeowners insurance and umbrella liability coverage, and other.
  • Gain control of your own health challenges. We’ve all heard the phrase “physician, heal thyself!” Physicians have to counsel patients about weight control issues, diet issues, high blood pressure and other problems all the time. A physician who is personally significantly overweight is already putting himself or herself in an awkward position. According to the Medscape Surgery Lifestyle Report 2016, some 45 percent of surgeons say they are overweight. (Congratulations, pulmonary medical specialists! You are the fattest doctors in the business, with an obesity rate of 51 percent. Family medicine practitioners are right behind at 49 percent! The least obese specialties? Dermatology, ophthalmology, plastic surgery and psychiatry).

resolution

Source: Medscape Surgery Lifestyle Report 2016: Bias & Burnout

The patient will notice your weight, naturally. At best you’re muddling your message.

This isn’t necessarily something you do for yourself alone. If you are overweight, you may be indirectly undercutting your patients’ prospects for bettering their own health. According to a study from the International Journal of Obesity, patients regard physicians as less credible – and are less likely to heed medical advice – if their physician is personally overweight.

That said, another recent study found that fat doctors may have an edge, or that those attitudes may have started to change in recent years.

About Doctor Disability

Doctor Disability Insurance, Inc. is an innovative, one-stop service that makes disability insurance shopping quick, affordable, and easy to understand. Physicians save time and money by comparing plans and prices from multiple insurance companies. The site provides free quotes from leading names in the disability insurance industry along with friendly and knowledgeable customer support. The best values in the insurance industry are located in one place and are available any time doctors are ready, including late at night and on weekends.

Based in San Clemente, California, President and CEO Charles Krugh is a Certified Financial Planner with more than 15 years of experience working with people in the medical industry.

Call us toll free at 866-899-7318 to speak to one of our disability insurance professionals, or visit us at www.doctordisability.com.

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