Holistic Practice Management: Concept of Operations Scenario (CONOPS)

Apr 6, 2016
5 min read

Here is what you need to know about CONOPS and its role in holistic practice management.

This is the first of many articles in a series regarding Holistic Practice Management (HPM).

What I want to show within this series is the decoupling of strategies that will be presented to help your practice strategically gain an advantage within their marketplace/community. This decoupling will involve both the clinical and optical sides to help the practice get away from the silos that are the current methodology.

This first article will lay that groundwork so practices can start to couple all categories together to make a HPM.

Have there been operational situations within your practice where all of a sudden something unexpected happens?

Of course this happens, but what did you do in that situation and how did you resolve the issues?

If you are like the majority of practices, you took on as much information as quickly as possible to make a quick educated decision. You also relied on your previous history regarding this decision.

As the days, weeks, months, and years pass was that the right decision?

You will start to see immediately within your practice if that was a correct decision. If it was not then you change your decision to fit the needs until you have the corrected strategy.

Is this the right approach?

You can keep asking yourself if that was the right decision. How can I mitigate making errors in my decisions regarding situations like this?

There is a solution, and that solution is CONOPS.

CONOPS are scenarios looking into the future that have been used as military planning tools for millennia.

To see future courses of actions before they happen helps mitigate errors and creates a dynamic balance between acting and reacting. If you can monitor the internal and external operating environment then you can avoid catastrophic situations and pursue opportunities that will maximize success.

Numerous national and international firms have adopted CONOPS and have integrated it into its daily operational functions. Royal Dutch Shell is famous for using CONOPS to help their firm.

If you would like more information on CONOPS history and strategy, it will be provided at the end of this article.

Having established the history and definition behind CONCOPS, now we can start to establish how this can be put into your practice.

As you have your yearly operational meeting you first need to recognize how external factors interact with the internal factors of your practice. If you can define this then you can establish key situations where CONOPS could be used. Recognizing the key situations that would hinder your operation is key. This can help save you time, resources, and money in the short and long term

An example would be when there are issues with your computers for that day.

Let’s say all the computers are down and from your pre-planning review of the day you have a packed house coming in for various procedures.

Let’s also say you have 40 clinical patients coming in at an average $130 per exam which to equates to $5,200 for the day.

You cannot just shut down the day and reschedule everyone for another day. This messes with your practice goals and messes up the scheduling of the patients. Also you do not know the loss from patients that wanted to purchase frames/contact lenses.

An average frame and lens purchase is $250 and an average contact lens purchase is $140. If half the patients purchase contacts and half purchase frames then gross revenue loss is $13,000. This is not including the cost of your staff! You have no idea if these patients took the day off from work!

This can leave a bad taste in the patient mouths and exposes the disorganization of your practice. Patients could see this and make snap decisions on your credibility of their eye health provider. Calculating gross revenue loss could reach over $15,000 plus for just that day. This is one of various key scenarios that CONOPS can be used within your practice.

Before you would make quick decisions based upon your history and the resources currently available. Now having CONOPS in your arsenal you can just pick up where it is located and proceed in your day as a small speed bump. Having already fleshed out the idea of this happening you can make better internal decisions based on sound principles instead of making gut decisions that could have dire consequences for you in the present and in the future.

Audit of CONOPS is done on a maximum yearly basis. You can do it more frequently based on practice needs. The reason for the continual audit is because the marketplace changes and to keep up with those changes you need this living document to change.

CONOPS is key to your practice! Having this living document solidifies the strategic placement of your practice within the marketplace.

Here is some key reference material on how CONOPS is used by Royal Dutch Shell. This is a very broad brush stroke from them, but it can establish a core groundwork on how you want to model CONOPS in your practice.

About Sean Carranco, MBA

Sean Carranco is the owner of Carranco Lunettes which is a consulting firm that helps independent practices in the marketplace. A versatile professional with over 15 plus years of executive operational, financial, marketing and retail experience, creating company guidelines and protocols to preside over your practice environment. He has a B.S. from The University of Texas and an Executive M.B.A from The University of Texas at El Paso.