Participation Is the Key to Positive Outcomes

Andrea Zlatkus, CPM, CHRC
Editor-in-Chief, Rheumatology Practice Management
President, NORM


The general theme of this issue of Rheumatology Practice Management (RPM) can be summed up in one word: participation. Whether as individuals, or as part of a group, the more we are willing to participate in the world around us, the more positive outcomes we can generate for our patients and our practices.

The roar of a crowd starts with just one person’s voice, as Shari Wilson reminds us in her article, “Your Independent Voice Is Important.” In this article, she explains the difference one person can make when advocating for a particular issue, and gives sound advice on how you can put thoughts into action at various levels of government.

“There are many things that you can do to advocate for an issue, and it does not take a lot of time to share your input,” Shari advises.

Identifying the professional obstacles you are facing, and knowing where to go to find solutions, is essential for helping your practice to thrive. In his article, “NORM’s Education Committee Offers Resources for Your Practice,” Gregory Thompson, MBA, discusses the ways in which this committee is striving to meet the evolving professional needs of NORM members.

“All managers, from the newest rookie to the most seasoned veteran, can benefit from the resources developed by the NEC,” he explains.

The importance of building trust and collaboration in the workplace is the focus of “Trusting Your Team,” by Rick Olsen, PhD. In this article, Rick emphasized the fact that good managers need to understand each team member’s strengths, weaknesses, and what motivates them to work harder. When managers take the time to evaluate these characteristics of their employees, they are poised to match individuals with the business needs that suit their strengths, thereby advancing the entire team’s goals. He also explains how the Forté Communication Style Profile survey can help practice managers better understand the strengths, motivators, and demotivators of their employees.

“With this powerful information, you will be armed with a tool to manage a team within a strengths-based framework,” he asserts.

In this issue of RPM, we also feature our latest Member Profile, which provides a snapshot of the accomplishments and goals of Hana Ali, a NORM member who is striving to directly participate in the policymaking process as she seeks election to the Tennessee State House’s District 45 legislative seat. We are inspired by Hana’s motivation and energy as she works to bring a physician’s voice to the healthcare policy agenda in her home state.

“We all know too well that healthcare needs to be fixed, not just for patients but also for physicians,” she explains.

In addition, Reuben A. Allen III, MBA, offers valuable advice on protecting your office’s computer systems from Internet pirates in his article, “Ransomware and Your Rheumatology Practice.” I urge you to read through his suggestions, because a ransomware attack may prevent you from accessing electronic health records, patient e-mails, and electronic billing and scheduling systems, which are essential to running your practice successfully.

I also encourage you to read “Rheumatoid Arthritis Through the Eyes of a Patient,” an article highlighting the courage and compassion of a member of my staff. Lisa is not only a dedicated employee, but as an individual living with rheumatoid arthritis, she is also a source of encouragement to our patients. We are all inspired by her story and the way in which she has chosen to use her own illness to lighten the burden of others.

In Lisa’s own words, “Although I would prefer not to have been diagnosed with RA, having this disease has led to some important and rewarding experiences with our patients. I feel that, in some small way, I am making a difference in their lives. My goal is to continue being the best health advocate possible on their behalf.”

My hope is that the articles in this issue of RPM drive home the concept that there are numerous ways to get involved and make a significant difference. Participation can be as simple as writing a letter to a state representative, offering encouragement to a struggling patient, or sharing your experience with another practice manager. You may also choose to get involved on a larger scale by joining a professional committee or running for an elected office. Regardless of the path you choose, remember that NORM is always here, by your side, to answer questions, offer guidance, and provide you with the tools you need on your journey.

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