There's no such thing as looking for inspiration too hard when you're running a small or a medium business. Every bit of information you can find about how to ensure that your business is growing helps, even if it comes from an industry that has nothing to do with your business. And there's plenty you could learn by paying close attention to organizations from the healthcare industry.
Pick a Good Leader
The best hospitals in the United States are headed by - physicians. Not by professional managers, or people whose talent is to find people who actually have talent, but by doctors. People who have been in the trenches of the healthcare industry, who understand the core business of healthcare - making people healthier - and who understand the needs of both their patients and the people who work under them.
The person who leads your small or medium business has to have expert knowledge of your core business. In fact, they should also have personal experience that gives them the insight they can use to improve the workplace, help employees reach better results, as well as keep them satisfied.
Know Your Industry and Your Customers
Healthcare is one of the most highly regulated industries in the United States. Healthcare organizations need to be aware of the standards imposed on them by the regulators, as well as the standards of their own profession. They also need to manage patient expectations, and develop an approach that meets every patient's needs.
The broad awareness healthcare organizations need to develop could also benefit small and medium business owners. As an SMB owner, you should be aware of the regulatory context in which you operate your business. You need to be aware of consumer rights - it can help you avoid lots of costly troubles. And you should know that consumers expect some things from you, such as a fast online shopping experience, and that you need to meet these expectations if you want your business to grow.
While it could certainly be argued that the history of healthcare is a history of innovation, healthcare organizations don't just innovate by developing new treatments and procedures. They also implement innovative technologies that might help them be more efficient, save on costs, and provide better patient outcomes.
Record-keeping is an important part of it. In the past, healthcare organizations relied on paper documentation to keep records. Today, they have electronic health records or EHR. The benefits of EHR include increased staff efficiency, better adaptability to new business models, and a decrease of expenditures and human errors. As a small or medium business owner, you can see how all of these benefits could help you grow your business. And the solutions to do that are out there, and they're constantly getting better.
Invest Into Security
Healthcare organizations handle large volumes of extremely sensitive data. That data makes them a magnet for all sorts of hackers who would like to get their hands on it. According to Thales Security's 2017 Data Threat Landscape report, 55% of healthcare organizations in the United States has, at a some point in their past, experienced a data breach. Outside of the United States, the number goes up to 66%.
As a result of the increased threats, as well as the increased regulatory compliance burdens, the healthcare industry is the leader in the increase of IT security expenditures. In 2017, healthcare organizations will increase their IT security spending more than businesses in retail, finance, or even the federal government.
Even though online retailers don't handle the same type of data as healthcare organizations do, they are still targets of hacker attacks. And a retailer who can't safeguard the information of its customers is not a retailer who can be trusted. Taking a page from the healthcare organizations' book and implementing appropriate security measures is a necessity.
Emphasize Collaboration and Communication
Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety, or TeamSTEPPS, is a framework developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Department of Defense in order to improve healthcare teams' collaboration and communication capacities. It's an evidence-based framework that was created because team collaboration and communication have a clear effect on patient outcomes.
As long as there is more than one person working in your business, collaboration and communication are two things you should always strive to improve. And even if you're running a one-man business, you'll still need to communicate with suppliers, or distributors, or customers. Making sure that communication meets certain standards - briefness, clarity, and preciseness - will greatly improve internal communication in your business. And giving the employees resources they need to be able to collaborate will affect how smoothly and efficiently your business is running.
By looking up to successful healthcare organizations, you can learn a lot about how to head your business, how to develop it, and how to invest into it if you want it to grow. And this list isn't definitive - there are plenty more things you can learn from healthcare organizations. But that's just the nature of running a business - you constantly need to learn if you want the business the grow.