Getting technical (Sponsored by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health)

Getting technical (Sponsored by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health)

Technicians zero in on missed charges to increase revenue.
Jun 01, 2008

The utilization of the equine technician is transforming how equine practices function, as more equine practitioners elect to improve efficiency and increase their profit margin by hiring a technician. DeeAnn Wilfong, BS, CVT, president-elect of the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians (AAEVT), says technicians were once thought of as an added or additional expense. But now that so many practitioners realize the financial benefits technicians bring to the table, Wilfong says the demand for their services has never been higher.

But what specific tools do technicians use to enhance the bottom line? Wilfong breaks down the components of one of the technician's strongest assets: the ability to prevent missed charges. She lays out how a technician's knack for thoroughness and consistency can recover money that's been overlooked, forgotten, or otherwise discounted—transforming it into higher revenue, new equipment, additional employees, and more personal time for you.

Filling gaps

You are a detail-oriented professional, and nothing slips by you when it comes to caring for your patients. But after a day of running from appointment to appointment, the "what" and the "how many" can run together in your mind. Sometimes you may not recollect each and every billable service you provided when you write them down at the end of the day. "Practitioners tend to have so much on their plate that some of the smaller details tend to slip through the cracks, and most of the time those smaller details are missed charges," Wilfong says. "They are not going to forget that they saw a particular horse or that they did work, but they might forget whether they dispensed 50 Sulfa-Methoxazole Trimethoprim (SMZ) or 100 SMZ."

Having a technician there to document everything you do is a key factor in helping your practice grow. As one cup of gourmet coffee a day can add up to more than $100 per month, a small missed charge here and a forgotten charge there can also add up. But when a technician fills in the gap by capturing those charges, it can only add on. "As far as the amount that can be lost, it's thousands," Wilfong says. "But if you can catch those charges before they're missed, the amount that would've been lost could pay for a new ultrasound machine or the technician's salary. It could also allow you to hire an additional technician, pay for the insurance on one of your trucks, or give you the ability to offer pay raises to your staff, and you'll see a larger paycheck for yourself or your associates.

Banking on billing

The technician's meticulous nature speaks volumes (of money that is); however, it also provides an added, crucial element to obtaining and retaining a solid client base—consistency. Wilfong says missed charges can lead to inconsistent billing. This, she says, can prove to be hazardous down the road. "If you're working in a small area and you're a solo practitioner, you can run into an issue where Lucy wants to know why Betsy didn't get charged as much as she did," she says. "It's a trust issue. If clients see any inconsistencies, they're going to think you can adjust your fees for everyone. Client perception is huge, and the technician keeps that perception positive with consistent billing."

Making time

Putting a technician in charge of documentation and billing does more than save revenue from getting lost. Wilfong says that although some practitioners may pledge to improve their record-keeping habits and continue to work alone, they may not be looking at how their busy schedule can affect their personal life. "Many practitioners come home at the end of a busy day and still have hours of billing ahead of them," she says. "But if a technician is taking care of it, you have the ability to go home at a certain time in the evening and see your family and friends. It can literally enhance your lifestyle."

More time, more money—with a technician, you can have both. To learn more about the AAEVT, its 18-month online certification programs, and upcoming CE and wet lab courses, log on to http://www.aaevt.org/.