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President's Update: July/August 2017

Posted By Chet Seward, Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Changing our focus for this CSEPS President’s newsletter, instead of outward-looking federal and state advocacy, let’s look inward into our own ophthalmology practices. 

Our 11-physician practice is headed into our Annual Partners’ Retreat in August. This critical inward look at our practice is a yearly exercise – a vital task of any organization, no matter its size. Indeed, it may be even more important for a solo or small practice that may not frequently ask hard questions of it’s self. It is axiomatic that no organization looks to find fault in itself, or to force a foray into the unknown.

A common entry point into organizational, or personal, self-assessment is the SWOT Analysis. SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is a simple framework for taking stock of the company and planning for its future. Examples of questions common to many businesses, including healthcare are included in the SWOT 2x2 matrix below. 


Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, whereas opportunities and threats are external to the practice. The easier work, or the fun part, is to list your practice’s strengths and opportunities. The more difficult, painful and therefore most likely to be ignored are your practice’s weaknesses and threats to its existence.

The stress for every organization doing the necessary, hard work of looking inward at its weaknesses is perilous for those leading this inquiry. There are strong inertial forces deeply invested in maintaining the status quo. Significant resistance and pushback is the expected default position, often making significant change an uphill climb. Sisyphus, the character from Greek mythology is forced to roll a massive boulder uphill, only to have it fall back upon him, in a never-ending cycle of labor and futility. So, why would anyone undertake such an endeavor?

An organization that either undergoes a process of internal, or external review, of itself will identify areas that diminish its performance. These internal weaknesses are barriers to achieving greater success, or risk their organization’s demise, if continually swept under the carpet.


It is a false economy to not invest the time and energy performing this vital self-assessment. It is less effort to coast, rather than actively steer the organization. However, the state of ease we all seek, entails first passing through a difficult period of disruption. This is called “simplicity on the far side of complexity”.

As for the external threats to your medical practice, I circle back to the reason for CSEPS existence -- CSEPS is the only purpose-built professional organization representing Colorado’s ophthalmologists. CSEPS dues support extremely hard-working staff and lobbying activity, directed by a voluntary board of directors (peer ophthalmologists). CSEPS is in a bi-directional exchange of information between the grassroots ophthalmologist and the national organization, the AAO, via the Council. CSEPS is also your voice at the critical state-level, where both legislation and regulation often create the greatest impact upon your practice. 

So, I hope I have stimulated your thinking on this vital topic. I encourage you to have this conversation within your practice. We all collectively benefit by having more robust and adaptive ophthalmology practices, acting in concert, to provide the best care for our patients. Thank you all for your hard work in the communities you serve.

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