Like many ideas, CHS wasn’t founded in a garage, but on a napkin. When Nick showed Jenn and I that napkin, we were at dinner in Austin, Texas. It was the blueprint of a consultancy that would focus on small practices - house call practices. At that time, we were all executives with a national house call group and the thought of leaving to start our own company was both thrilling and daunting. Four months later, our employer closed its doors and we had a decision to make: apply for jobs or start CHS. By the time we were at the make-or-break point, Paul was onboard and we elected to roll the dice.
There was considerable risk involved as private practices, and house call practices specifically, are a small and highly volatile sector of healthcare. But here we stand, one year later, proving that sometimes the risk is worth the reward. They say that the first year of any new business is the toughest, and we can second that. For our one-year anniversary, we've decided to share some of the things we’ve learned:
Stay Flexible. We set out to only serve the house call market, as it was a segment that had been largely ignored by other consultancies. Soon, we started getting inquiries from urgent care centers, traditional family practice groups, and health systems - organizations outside of the house call sphere that were intrigued by our philosophy and affordability. If we elected to work with them, were we losing our focus on the original mission? If we diversified, would we lose our identity as a unique consultancy? Ultimately, we made the decision to diversify and not only have we kept our unique identity, but our non-house call clients have created opportunities for our house call clients.
Admit When Something’s Not Working. This can be a tough subject, especially for small practices. We understand the pride in building something from nothing, but not every idea works out the way we hope it will. It could be something as small as changing your patient management software or as large as terminating a long-term employee who is no longer productive. We’ve been there ourselves, recently re-designing our web site based off feedback we received from clients and potential clients. It doesn’t mean you failed ... it just means it could be done better. We’ve also learned a lot from our clients on what they need, what their concerns are, and what we can invest in to better help them.
All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy. This isn’t a reminder to watch "The Shining". This is a reminder to take the occasional moment and have some fun. Your staff will appreciate it, and your turnover rates will decrease. We do it ourselves. We’ve organized a movie club, trivia nights, and other activities that allow us to unwind and come in the next day refreshed.
We want to thank all of our clients and vendors for helping us take that napkin and turn it into a business. We’re grateful it worked, and look forward to many exciting projects in the year ahead.