MGMA Stat: Practice leaders set up for success in new year with preventative health behavior

By Kenneth T. Hertz, FACMPE
January 4, 2018
Body of Knowledge Domain(s): Organizational Governance

It’s a new year, so it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions. But let’s face it, we don’t often succeed. A recent New York Times article stated that by Jan. 8, 25% of resolutions will have fallen by the wayside, and by the end of the year, less than 10% of them will have been kept. Not a very good percentage. So how can you do better?

Let’s begin with the recent MGMA Stat poll. When asked whether practice leaders had personally engaged in preventative health behavior, 82% of respondents said yes, 16% said no and 2% were unsure. In looking at the follow-up question asking respondents to indicate what they had done, a large number indicated exercise coupled with nutrition, yoga and meditation.

This is great news. This means that in 2018, you have something to build on. And here’s a tip: Experts say you have a far better chance of making your resolution stick by attaching it to something from the previous year.

So how can you succeed in 2018? Let’s look at some very specific examples, each of which can affect your overall physical and mental health, as well as your ability to do your best in your practice.

  1. We spend a lot of time worrying about the holiday season – the time between Christmas and the New Year. Why not change your thinking, and concentrate on the time between the New Year and next Christmas? Think long term, not short term. Focus on the portion of the year that can make the greatest impact on your life.
  2. Be honest with yourself. You really have to want to change. Not because somebody told you to do so, but because you want to change. I was nearly 50 pounds overweight and knew it. I was Type 2 diabetic, had high cholesterol – you get the picture. It wasn’t until a friend took me to a diabetic foot clinic and a nurse showed me what my blood looked like after being spun down – heavy cream – that I decided that I wanted to change. I exercised, dieted and meditated. I lost the weight, got my diabetes under better control, and my blood looks like blood now!
  3. You must stick with it. It’s been said that it takes somewhere between 21 and 30 days to form a habit. Trust me, it does. You must stick with your resolution for that amount of time. Every day. No cheating. No sleeping in. No excuses.
  4. Get a partner to hold you accountable. In my quest to lose weight, I enrolled in a community program that required me to check in with a dietician and exercise physiologist each week. I had to track what I ate every day, the amount of calories I consumed and how much I exercised. It worked.
  5. Be specific. You employ SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Bound) in your practice, so why not employ them in your private life? Instead of saying, “I plan to exercise more this year,” try, “I will exercise 15 minutes more per workout for the first three months of the year, then 15 minutes more for the next three months, etc.” Or, “I will walk an extra quarter of a mile for the first three months of the year, then an additional quarter of a mile for the second three months, etc.” Be specific. Build on what you’ve already done.
  6. Celebrate. Acknowledge your successes, no matter how small. Give yourself credit for making progress. Pat yourself on the back.

This is a new year, make it your best one yet!

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Kenneth T. Hertz, FACMPE, principal consultant, MGMA Health Care Consulting Group

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