11 Straightforward And Practical Tips To Improve Your Practice’s Bottom Line

It is our responsibility as captains of our ships, however, to equip our practices and our staff members with the necessary tools and information if we want to have any chance of overcoming these real threats.

You do not have to be a marine captain to know that there are countless potential dangers navigating waters.

With a little imagination you know there are many risks. Some hidden, like currents, while others are painfully apparent (i.e. howling winds, waves and torrential storms).

 

Compass Direction GuideWe know there isn’t anything the captain can do to eliminate weather conditions or enforce her will on ocean currents.

However, we can all agree the captain has control over the vessel. We can also agree that the captain has the responsibility to equip the ship and its crew member to its maximum potential if they have any intention of overcoming environmental threats.

Running a “profitable” practice is indeed becoming more of a challenge. For many, it is uncharted territory. And while there are many extrinsic reasons – like decreasing insurance payments, high deductible plans, and the increased cost of providing care – that are contributing towards the “remaining profitable” challenge, the truth is, there is little – if anything – we can do to eliminate those threats.

It is our responsibility as captains of our ships, however, to equip our practices and our staff members with the necessary tools and information if we want to have any chance of overcoming these real threats.

Below are 11 STRAIGHTFORWARD and practical tips you can implement immediately to help you navigate these rough waters.

  1. Review fee schedules regularly to ensure your fees reflect market conditions in your region.
  2. Adjust fee schedules for certain procedures to improve providers’ competitiveness.
  3. Review all E&M charges by a certified coder before submitting claims.
  4. Hire coding consultants for annual chart reviews to ensure accurate coding.
  5. Monitor and report payments of your top insurance-payers.
  6. Run reports to understand payments by different networks or other contract types.
  7. Renegotiating (or consider dropping) contracts with payers who have low payments.
  8. Monitor how long it takes for charges to be entered and claims to be submitted to make sure claims are being filed timely.
  9. Consider provider training or implement random audits to ensure billing slips are completed clearly and accurately.
  10. Review your practice’s policies for routing super-bills to ensure claim submissions are sent as soon as possible.
  11. Implement processes so your billing staff works missing super-bills, claims, denials, consistently.

Imagine for a moment navigating open waters without navigation tools. Now, imagine what would happen if conditions were less than excellent?

If your boat ran off course or worse, capsized, would you blame the environmental conditions? Or would you take responsibility because you didn’t have the proper equipment and tools to navigate in challenging conditions?

Sharing The Practice Management Love: Patient Recalls

It is better than sitting around in September wondering why our patient count was lower this year than last year and then using the economy as an excuse.

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The inter-tubes provide many resources on how you ought to run your business, how to get a better job, how to increase sales, how to have your resume read or how to get your next promotion. But you hardly ever hear a person tell you what they actually did to increase sales or land a new job or get that cool promotion. It is all about things YOU should do. Never, this is what I did.

Maybe it is a safer bet to tell others what to do because opening up and sharing what you’ve done may lead to criticism.

So at the risk of getting criticized, this is what I’m going to be doing. Instead of posting the Top 10 Things Your Medical Practice Needs To Do To Survive Tough Times, I thought I would share some of the things we’ve been implementing in our practice to remain a viable business.

Some of the initiatives we’ve been doing for some time, others we started as a result of the economic downturn, increase competition in the area and parents delaying care due to medical cost. Nonetheless, these are real life examples of what a real practice is doing to stay afloat and navigate through economic catastrophe, managed care fiascos and general business challenges.

In the next couple of days, I’m going to be posting these initiatives. So make sure to check back often.

Here is my first post in the series:

Patient Recalls (Well Child)

In the next couple of months, we start gearing up for school physicals. I feel this year, it is going to be different than years past. We are in a recession and many are anticipating parents delaying medical care due to the economic turmoil, high deductibles, lost of insurance or many of the other excuses people are using not to go the doctor. Therefore, we have been a little more proactive in our effort to bring patients back in for their yearly check-up anticipating a dip in patient visits.

We started by running a report of children that are due for their five-year physicals. We all know kids need school physicals to enter kindergarten, so why not give parents a heads up (call, note, letter, postcard) and schedule them in when there is plenty of availability and time.

Not only is this quality of care, but it also helps us ensure patients don’t delay care or go some where else.

Our first day, we called about ten families. Roughly six of the ten families we called made appointments. Parents even made appointments for the siblings of the 5-year old. So, ten calls resulted in about 12 appointments. Not bad considering we just started.

Many parents will say they don’t want to schedule something yet or later cancel the appointment, but that is OK. It is better than sitting around in September wondering why our patient count was lower this year than last year and then using the economy as an excuse.

Are you seeing or expecting patient delaying care? What are you doing to ensure your numbers don’t decrease? Hope you share it with me and rest of the people that visit this blog.

Next post I’m going to be talking about some of things our office is doing to reduce cost.