A best practice is a process that a business uses to effectively deliver a service or product to the public, consumer, or other business. It is efficient because there is a pattern that will be followed so that a good experience is produced.

It is used in education, insurance and nursing, to name a few industries, but the idea can be applied to any business no matter the size.

For example, my friend went to a yoga class at a local gym. She had attended that particular class for over a year- Intermediate Vinyasa. On this day there were the ten regular people and two newcomers. The instructor changed the class to benefit the two newcomers. However, her other clients were left with a workout they did not want.

This is where having a published Best Practices would be beneficial. Perhaps something like:

1. Classes will start on time.
2. If the instructor is not present, and the class cannot continue then the students will receive a certificate for a free class.
3. Classes are marked at certain levels; please choose the level that is right for you. Modifications will be announced, but the classes will continue at the published level.
4. Our location will always be clean and safe.

The benefits of having Best Practices can be used in marketing to show consistency in your product, plus you will gain word of mouth clients because of your standards. You are also setting a legal benchmark for your business, because of this you want to make sure that you can meet your best practices.

If you have a business to business model, then Best Practices can still be used. Your focus may be on:

• We believe in alternative dispute resolution and will use mediation if a conflict arises. We want long term relationships
• We always use Delaware law in our contracts.
• We will answer your request within 24 hours
• We work with the following charitable organizations and hope you will help.

It is a gain for employees too. They will gain an understanding of what is expected of them, and what level of service they need to provide.

Taking some time to create a Best Practices will allow you to put your best foot forward.

I will be presenting Advocating For Yourself at the following conference:

Gearing Up
Fifth Annual Career Advancement Conference for Professional Women
Gearing Up: Fit to Lead
May 7, 2010
Executive Dining Room LaCava 395
8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Bentley University Campus

In May, the American Massage Therapy Association will be offering an online class created by TrueNorth Business Consulting entitled, Knowing Your Business Can Mean A Better Practice.

Continuing Education credits are offered. For more information:

Welcome to TrueNorth Business Consulting presentation of a Business Makeover. Each month will feature an idea that can help your business. True North focuses on helping health and wellness practitioners to maintain and grow their business using the areas of law, marketing, insurance and project management.
Health insurance is a hot topic, as the President tries to press forward on Universal Health Care. Universal health care is healthcare coverage for all eligible residents of a country, which covers medical, dental and mental health. In most countries is it paid for by the public in the form of taxes. The United States does not have this type of system for all its citizens. Medicare gives health insurance benefits, under age 65 with certain disabilities and to those with End-Stage Renal Disease. To understand the topic, there needs to be a discussion of the basics of health insurance.

At least 15% of people in the United States are uninsured. Those that are insured, who are not Medicare participants have one of the three basic types of health plans:

• Health Maintenance Organizations: HMO Plans pay for your coverage in advance, rather than paying for each health-related service separately. For the price of a monthly premium, your HMO will offer you a range of benefits from preventative care to dental or vision coverage. You choose a primary care physician and will need referrals to specialists. You pay a co-payment for each visit.
• Preferred Provider Organizations: PPO Plans negotiate lower overall fee arrangements with an assortment of doctors, hospitals, clinics, and other health providers. Your cost-sharing rate will be lower in-network than out, but you still have the freedom to step out of the network for treatment if you prefer.
• Fee-for-Service Plans (Indemnity): This plan reimburses medical providers for each service received on a case-by-case basis. A Fee-for-Service plan requires payment of an annual deductible before it begins to reimburse the insured for covered services. It also gives family members the freedom choose doctors, hospitals, and clinics.
The problem with these plans is the cost and coverage. The deductibles that need to be met prior to the insurance becoming effective can be high as a cost cutting technique. It is not unheard of for a deductible to $4,000 to $6,000. In an average year most individuals and families will not meet that threshold, therefore paying their medical expenses out of pocket.
The other issue is that most employers do not cover health insurance fully. A percentage is taken out of each paycheck. This lessens the take home pay.
Then there is the 15% that do not have insurance. Prior to Massachusetts making health insurance a requirement, it like New Jersey required the hospitals to take in charity cases. Currently in Massachusetts with some exceptions, individuals who cannot show proof of health insurance coverage that meets the standard of minimum creditable coverage by Dec. 31, 2007, will lose their personal income tax exemption when filing their 2007 income taxes. Failure to meet the individual mandate in 2008 will result in a fine for each month the individual does not have coverage. The fine will equal 50 percent of the least costly available insurance premium that meets the standard for minimum creditable coverage. Other states do not have any system, leaving the uninsured to navigate.

The uninsured can be further broken down by those who are employed, but their employers are not required by state law to provide any health insurance as a benefit; the unemployed; and those that have pre-existing conditions which make them uninsurable.

Universal health care may or may not be the answer. There are multi-level issues, which need a multi-level approach. When looking at this complicated issue, discussions should focus on how to lower healthcare cost, retain quality, lower deductibles and decrease the cost of health insurance.