Unfortunately not only do physicians have to cope with reduced reimbursement from Medical Aids in a period of accelerating expenses, but the economy is having a significant impact on some practices.
Many patients are losing jobs and not quickly finding replacement employment. This causes them to curtail elective expenditures, and health care is often viewed as elective, especially when medical aid benefits expire.
Even so, there are practices that are not only holding their own but actually thriving and achieving new records of productivity and profitability. Listed here are a few of the techniques they employ that might help you too:
1. Increase Efficiency
Inefficient practices on the part of both the physician and staff waste time and money. Seeing just one more new patient per week can increase net profits by R300,000 or more per physician per year. Review your systems and behaviors and eliminate or streamline inefficiencies.
2. Minimize Waste
Audit your practice for wasteful procedures. Review your inventory control system for currency and put one person in charge. Over ordering wastes cash and storage space and under ordering wastes labor. Negotiate for better supply prices.
3. Eliminate Staff Overtime
If regular overtime occurs you are probably understaffed and should hire extra part time staff at reduced rates. If overtime at “time and a half pay” does occur limit it to over 40 hours per week, not over 8 hours day to day. If you always run late, maybe you can keep just one person late, not the whole staff.
4. Train Staff
Rarely do I find staff that doesn’t appreciate training to increase their abilities, and rarely does training not pay. Have staff report back to the group on what they learned and how it can help the practice. Listen to their suggestions. Hold regular in-service training on your specialty. Be clear on what you expect of them and train them to be exact.
5. Buy Equipment That Will Help You Make Or Save Money
Fax machines, computers and pocket phones qualify when used properly. I have no clients that have them that would give them up without a fight. Clinical instrumentation needs to have accurate financial and usage projections calculated. Make sure you or your staff use what you buy by asking them first.
6. Increase Marketing
This is an area that should be built up in a recession, not decreased. Every practice should know how many new patients per month it takes to keep busy and take action to insure that flow. Marketing can be as subtle or bold as you dare, as long as it produces adequate results. If you are not meeting your new patient count goals, get help.
7. Present Appropriate Care
In my observations more physicians undertreat rather than overtreat, in often misguided deference to their patients’ wallets. Present appropriate care and let the patient decide whether or not to make the investment. Even in a down economy many patients value their health above all else.
8. Audit Your Charts For Oversights
In many specialties I find that patients “slip through the cracks” on follow up or even surgeries due to missed appointments or unscheduled recalls. Review 10 charts a day for compliance and call patients that need to be seen.
9. Look At Your Own Productivity
We all do things to “sabotage” our own success at times, like not staying late to return calls, maintaining chronic tardiness, etc. Ask your staff what you can do to make their jobs easier or to make patient visits more pleasant. Listen to their input and take action.
10. Ask Patients For Their Input
Having patients fill out a simple customer satisfaction survey can give you a lot of insight. A simple WHAT DID YOU LIKE, WHAT DID YOU DISLIKE and a rating from 1 to 5 for dissatisfied to very satisfied is all you need on the survey.