The 3 Second Rule Saves Lives and Medical Practices Alike
In most cases, there will be a better outcome if the pilot takes 3 seconds to think about options and solutions to mitigate impending disaster.
Pilots are taught “The 3 Second Rule.” In an in-flight emergency, such as engine failure on takeoff, the pilot’s fight-or-flight instincts kick in and they simply want to “do something” and FAST (fast in an airplane means in 1 second or less). However, in most cases, there will be a better outcome if the pilot takes 3 seconds to think about options and solutions to mitigate impending disaster. Right now, as a nation, as healthcare leaders, as medical practice managers, it might be a good time to commandeer The 3 Second Rule from our friends in the aviation community.
Even when the source is cut off, water continues to flow freely for some time.
For example, many in the anesthesia community are rightfully worried about finances. The otherwise reliable revenue of an anesthesia practice will suffer greatly as elective cases are cancelled. True enough, but let's apply The 3 Second Rule: Accounts receivable is likened unto a pipeline carrying water. Imagine a 100-foot pipeline carrying water. It takes a while to fill up and flow freely at the deposit end. Similarly, even when the source is cut off, water continues to flow freely for some time.
The financial future of the practice is calculable based on historic AR data.
In medical billing, we call the flow of revenue “Days in Account Receivable,” or simply “Days in AR” which is roughly how long it takes to convert services billed into revenue (usually between 30 and 45 days in a healthy practice). The supply “tap” is getting turned down and in some cases turned off for the average anesthesia practice. However, there is time to consider all reasonable options and scenarios for most practices who bill for their services. The financial future of the practice is calculable based on historic AR data.
Even with reduced billing events, revenue will continue to flow steadily for some time.
Anesthesia practices and their business partners should crunch the numbers to predict the amount of time they can expect to continue to receive steady revenue and pay current expenses. Even with reduced billing events, revenue will continue to flow steadily for some time. Those who have closed a practice or changed billing companies have seen this play out as they’ve gone through a wind-down of revenue. Revenue does not immediately dry up!
We don’t want to make decisions while in the blind-panic the pilot is tempted to feel when the motor stops running on takeoff.
Options such as securing a line of credit, creative/reduced staffing models, anticipating layoffs and even hospital employment still may apply, but we want to be careful to think through what we are doing. We are still in uncharted territory on many fronts, but we don’t want to make decisions while in the blind-panic the pilot is tempted to feel when the motor stops running on takeoff. There is time to scan our cockpit/dashboard (Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), assess our altitude and ability to glide and evaluate satisfactory options for setting our “plane” down relatively safely.
No doubt, The 3 Second Rule applies to other scenarios: nationally, locally and even personally in terms of the safety of our families as we go through this difficult time.
Take care and Godspeed.