Previously in this series, I have discussed the conditions of overwhelm that can accompany acupuncture practice, looked at the executive system of acupuncture businesses as well as, the facilities system, the financial system and the marketing system. Now, to finish up the systems conversation, we turn to the nexus of your acupuncture practice – the operations system.
I call Operations a “nexus” because it is the site where all the planning and work on the other systems comes together.
Simply stated, this system involves all the places where your practice cares for your patients. This includes everything from the first point of contact through to your onboarding process and the flow through the treatment room and including check-out and follow-up. So, when thinking through this system you should consider matters such as your communications systems (email, phone), your front desk procedures, scheduling and calendar management, HIPAA and records keeping, and your intake process and forms.
The operations business system also involves the domain of a “medical director” or acupuncture department head.
This includes maintaining licensure and continuing education, supply management, OSHA and blood-borne pathogen control – and of course now of great importance – overall infection management. Acupuncture clinic operations work also includes issues of treatment flow from intake to time on the table to follow-up, and the record keeping necessary for safe and legal clinic operations.
If you have other modalities in your clinic, you will need to consider all of these issues for them as well. Some modalities will have significantly different operational needs as compared to acupuncture, keep this in mind when planning your business!
I associate the Wood phase element with the Operations business system.
Wood is spring, plants bursting from the ground. We associate it with anger, which is action frustrated. It is above all affiliated with motion – wind, growing things, worms and insects, tendons. This motion is a good symbolic companion for the operations system.
Operations is a constantly moving force in your business – the place where facilities, finance, human resources, executive planning and marketing combine to produce a successful patient visit. Being in motion means it is a process of constant attention and adjustment – think of staying upright on a bike. Operations is always a “work in progress.”
The Ox reminds us of the power of basic clinical drudgery
Motion is good, spring is fun, but a truly trustworthy clinical container must be persistent and dependable. So while we want to embrace the gently chaotic wood energy that is inherent in the operations system, we also want to ground it in the Ox heavy with Liver Blood. The ox has the strength and stamina to do heavy work for a long period. It’s also not afraid to get its hooves in the mud – doing the boring work that keeps the world turning.
Operations is not sexy, though it can be interesting and vital.
Operations manuals, communications strategies, records management? Most people would rather talk about Instagram or TikTok. But the simple act of regularly calling people back and keeping track of those contacts will do more for your business than all the social media training in the world. Documenting how your front desk works will get you to profitability far quicker than Groupon ever could.
Now, as with the previous articles, engage in a little systems map brainstorming about the operations system
Use the diagram provided to get your bearings on the operations business system in your acupuncture business – present or future. How do you plan to schedule patients, and with what frequency? Will you have a landline? Do you plan to hire front desk staff? What do you know about HIPAA and how to maintain compliance? Read through this article to get more ideas of the kinds of things the operations business system includes.
In the next article in this series, we’re going to pull all of this information together. There you will see how all of this information comes together to help you get a grip on your acupuncture business and find your way forward no matter how intense the overwhelm. I’ll add a link here when that article is complete!