7 Simple Steps to Boost Your Practice’s Productivity Today!
Declining reimbursements and increased bundling of services are presenting physicians and their staff with a daunting challenge. How do you strike a healthy balance between clinical services and the demands of running a medical practice?
Whether you are a physician or a staff member, here are 7 Simple Steps that can boost your productivity and help positively impact your practice’s bottom line.
1. Perform only tasks that utilize your maximum skill level and delegate all others.
Have a clinical assistant perform histories and physicals, room patients, escort departing patients, triage patient phone calls, etc. The physician’s focus should be on delivering clinical services. This not only helps improve patient care, it also generates revenue for the practice. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are able to bill for many of their services, and bill gross charges at a level often two to three times their direct cost to the practice. A mid-level provider may be a very cost-effective strategy to boost your practice volume, profitability and level of service; however, they must be properly utilized to ensure that you realize a positive impact on your bottom line.
2. Carefully manage your workday and your calendar.
Maintain a single calendar that displays both personal and professional commitments one month at a time on the same calendar. Be realistic in creating your to-do lists. Keep important phone numbers in a single portable location to facilitate callbacks. Eliminate technological disruptions like a full voicemail box or SPAM email so that important people can reach you directly without delay. Set ground rules for your staff to communicate with you (when to leave voicemail, with whom to share your cell phone number, email address, etc.). Learn to say “no” to requests that do not advance your patients’ care, your professional development or your personal life.
3. Focus on retaining patients and delivering excellent service.
It costs approximately $100 to acquire one patient (marketing expense, staff time, resources, etc.) and about $2 per patient to retain that patient (i.e., maintaining your website and offering magazines, cable, coffee in waiting room, etc.). If the practice nets about $45 (after overhead) per patient per visit, should any patient leave your practice, you lose income. Moreover, with an increasing percentage of physician compensation influenced by patient satisfaction scores, excellence in customer service will become even MORE critical in the future. Do not forget that patients often share their experience with your practice online, so one patient’s good or bad experience can be broadcast throughout the worldwide web for countless others to see. Make sure that your online press is mostly positive.
4. Pay attention to your staff’s telephone etiquette.
Patients schedule their first appointment with you via telephone. Your staff should be prompt in answering, use a consistent greeting, be courteous, and be knowledgeable about your professional experience, background and services. If patients complain about busy signals, being trapped in an endless prerecorded loop of menus, being unable to get through to a live person, or being kept on hold an excessive length of time, they will only feel frustrated and not well cared for. Every unhappy patient may tell up to 25 others about their displeasures, every happy patient may share that with five others. Unhappy patients may not only cost your practice money, they may cost its reputation.
5. Train and empower staff to triage inbound calls.
The staff should be familiar with basic medical terminology, procedures, medications, and side effects that the doctor sees frequently. Those answering the phone should be given a checklist of preliminary questions that should be asked of callers to determine who needs to be directed to a clinician immediately and who can be called back later. The patient’s name, medical terms and medications should be spelled correctly and clearly so that the clinician does not waste time trying to figure out the nature of the request, but can respond appropriately as soon as possible.
6. Use your website as a valuable tool to boost productivity by reducing non revenue-generating activities of your staff.
To speed check-in, permit patients to download paperwork and arrive at your office with registration and medical history information forms already completed. To speed collections, permit patients to pay co-pays or co-insurance payments online using services like PayPal or merchant services from your bank. Anticipate frequent calls for driving directions or parking instructions with a detailed map on your website. Display the provider’s education, training, hospital privileges, certifications, and the insurances accepted on your site. Information on the full range of services that you provide should also be included. Staff should contribute to a list of frequently asked questions that they receive, which can be included on an FAQ section of your website. Inbound email messages should be directed to the practice manager’s email address and responded to EACH workday. Create email signatures that address frequently asked questions so that responses can be managed quickly and easily.
7. Keep your appointment schedule filled.
Missed appointments cost your practice money. Institute a process in which patients are reminded two to four days in advance of their appointment via email, text message or an automated reminder service. The fairly reasonable cost of outsourcing this service is more than offset by the decreased no-show rate and missed net revenues for the visit. Appointment reminder services also free up your staff to give more attention and better service to inbound callers and to patients in the office. Schedulers should also be trained in the “art” of structuring the schedule so that lengthy visits (i.e., new patients, in-office procedures, etc.) are never double-booked nor booked too closely in succession. Every effort should be made to permit the provider to stay on or close to the clinical schedule.
Time is money, and you should always be certain that you will be well-compensated for your time and expertise. These tips may help you and your staff better organize your practice in order to maximize both.
If you have questions about this topic or any other issues around the business of medicine, contact us via email or call us at 800-635-4040.