Since opening his first urologic practice in 2005, Dr. Michael Zahalsky has grown his business to include locations in Coral Springs and Fort Lauderdale, with a third office set to open in Pompano Beach in early 2016. Despite employing 28 people and treating slightly less than 500 people a week, he laughingly calls this his “day job,” as he is also a pioneering researcher in the use of biologics in urology.
Staff, Technology and Talent Key to Z Urology’s Success
One can credit this level of success to Dr. Zahalsky’s work ethic, which not only drives him forward, but is also a key component in the people whom he hires. “South Florida is a very competitive market, and there is always room for another good doctor in the area,” he explained. “You only make money from seeing patients, which means that you must actively like working, and put together a team that also wants to work. It’s a learning process in terms of who to pick, and it’s sometimes difficult to find people who have the same drive and belief system.”
Despite saying that he knew nothing about starting a practice when he was just out of training, Dr. Zahalsky followed what he calls the Three A’s of Medicine—available, affable and able. “This worked in terms of growing the practice, and I started looking to recruit another doctor within a year,” he said. “It took four years to find that right person, but now we have four physicians and three physician assistants, which have allowed us to build the Z Urology network.”
Dr. Zahalsky credits all of his staff for the practice’s success, saying that each person plays a vital role in creating an efficient office. “You’re only as strong as your weakest link,” he explained.
“What’s important for your support staff to realize, from secretaries to medical assistants to nurses, is that this is a service industry,” he said. “Patients may be sick, nervous or scared, and may lash out, but you have to grin and bear it. It’s a unique situation, so you have to try to be accommodating, and treat patients with the respect and kindness that they deserve.
“It’s also important to treat your mid-level providers and office managers with respect, and to make them feel part of the team,” he added. “You need to encourage everyone to bring their A game every day of the week, which is sometimes difficult with health care getting more complicated all of the time.”
Dr. Zahalsky also advises practice owners to always be fair with their partners, and to be an open book financially and personally. “What’s wonderful about being a doctor is that we get to do what we love to do,” he said. “We chose to be doctors, and we got to decide exactly what types of doctors we wanted to be. You should surround yourself with people like you, who really like what they do.”
In addition to hiring the right staff, having the right technology is also important. “It’s part of the three A’s—being available,” Dr. Zahalsky explained, adding that he communicates with referring physicians by cellphone and text. “It’s completely necessary at this point when owning a practice.”
Z Urology uses electronic medical records, as well as provides patient portals so that patients can check their own information. “The vast majority will not use it, but I believe that it should be available to them,” Dr. Zahalsky said, adding that it is one more step in showing patients that the practice cares about them.
“Technology also enables your practice to have more relevance in the community, which is why we have a website, as well as a Facebook page and Twitter account that we are constantly updating,” he added.
Dr. Zahalsky laughs when he shares that the biggest Facebook response that he got was when he posted a video of his 6-year-old daughter with the office staff doing the Whip/Nae Nae (www.facebook.com/Zurology). “We got so many likes and views from the community,” he said. “Now, when they think about finding a urologist, they’ll remember the office that did the Nae Nae. It’s a good way to get people talking about you.”
As the first surgeon to do a robotic laparoscopic surgery in urology in Broward County, Dr. Zahalsky is used to being on the cutting-edge of medicine in South Florida, and he has no intention of slowing down. In addition to recently establishing the biologic urology company UroStem, which has led successful trials using amniotic stem cells and growth factors in the treatment of Peyronie’s disease and erectile dysfunction, his goal is to continue building a urology network throughout South Florida that works with hospitals and insurance companies to provide timely, efficient care.