Seven strategies to protect your practice (Proceedings)


Seven strategies to protect your practice (Proceedings)

Nov 01, 2009

Making your practice more profitable isn't about luck. You don't roll the dice and hope to meet your financial goals for the year. Being profitable is about playing the right hand at the right moment and making changes in your practice that maximize your profitability. So use these seven strategies to ensure your practice will be flush with success.

     1. Enhance consistency

Differences in medical philosophies baffle doctors, staff, and clients and can lead to shortcomings in patient care. Say your standard is to perform annual wellness testing on all your senior patients. But only two of four doctors follow the protocol. This puts half your patients at a medical disadvantage. Don't make people guess what you want. Define your standards of care, get them in writing, and use them as a teaching tool to communicate your expectations to doctors and staff. Your goals are to provide high-quality care, nurture lasting client relationships, cultivate happy, productive doctors and staff, and enjoy a fun, profitable practice.

     2. Develop a budget

Define your goals for spending and revenue growth. Set revenue and expense goals and then share them with the team members who'll help you achieve them. And don't forget to measure and analyze your performance. Create a systematic approach to reviewing your monthly results, and develop an action plan to respond to problems or opportunities you identify during this review. Search "budgeting basics worksheet" at for a tool to get you started.

     3. Encourage staff contributions

Every team member at your practice must be knowledgeable about your standards for the sake of consistency and continuity. It's up to you to teach and mentor your team members and communicate your expectations for upholding those standards of care. An effective training program ensures that new team members start off on the right foot and become successful. Regular internal and external CE encourages team members to grow and will net your practice major rewards in the future. Improving staff expertise frees you to focus on other things – like seeing more patients, taking a lunch break or ending the day on time.

     4. Monitor and capture charges

Figure 1 - Case review summary in a well-managed practiceSM
Billing clients for all care provided is an opportunity to improve profit without raising fees. Track how often and by how much you're missing charges by completing a Case Review. Pull a random sample of 10 hospitalized cases and 10 outpatient visits for each doctor. Divide the cases among your healthcare team and ask them to compare the medical record of services provided to the client's invoice for services billed. Make a copy of the invoice and write a list at the bottom of the care that was provided for free (either intentionally or unintentionally) and the amount of the usual fee. (See "Case Review Summary", Figure 1 to help you tally the results.) Discuss and identify why the charges were missed. Are the doctors recording charges at the time of treatment – or waiting until later? Are they waiting until discharge to record charges for hospitalized cases? What discounts are doctors giving? Are your team members creating estimates on the fly and underestimating prices? These scenarios lead to missed charges. Once you have an idea of why charges are slipping through the cracks, develop an action plan to improve how your practice charges for care provided.