Secrets To Stress Relief In A Busy Practice
- Volume 20 - Issue 8 - August 2007
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Should You Decrease Your Patient Load?
I believe that my residency offered some of the best training available for its time. I love to do surgery. I used to live to do surgery. Now my life is geared toward less stress for me and less stress for me means less surgery. I used to do hospital surgery five days a week and often on Saturdays.
Now I do surgery one-half day a week. I refer many of my patients to one of my younger, more aggressive, more eager associates for surgery when surgery is indicated. I have found success in using conservative therapies to address many conditions, conditions that could only be handled surgically according to my training. This not only cuts down on late night/early morning phone calls but also on my scheduled “post-op visits.” These newly available time slots are now open for more profitable visits.
New patients of course can be some of the most profitable for any specialist. I receive more calls from potential new patients (by way of patient and physician referrals, public speaking engagements, etc.) than my schedule has been able to accommodate well for years. When a potential patient calls, you should see the patient that same day. In order to create more time for new patients without overbooking my schedule (which is what I had been doing for years), I needed to open more time on my books.
I hired a podiatrist who was looking for more work to do. I have transferred all of my routine foot care to her with the understanding that if the patient develops a different problem, she sends the patient back to me to address that problem while she continues the patient’s routine care. Patients love the extra time she spends with them and they appreciate knowing that I have not “kicked them out of my practice” and that I am right here for them if they need me again. This has allowed me to increase my profitability without having to work longer hours.
Getting The Most Out Of Ancillary Referrals
We all struggle with new ways to make a profit. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a better financial living. Many of us are offering physical therapy, vascular testing, DME dispensing, nerve conduction studies, etc., in our practices. I see nothing wrong with this. In fact, these are likely great ideas and I am missing a big boat.
However, I see many of the new ideas as increased stressors: more office space, more staff, more costs, more billing issues, more insurance auditing opportunities, etc. I enjoy the many reciprocal relationships with vascular doctors, neurologists, physical therapists, orthotists, etc. If I can keep things simpler in my office, my efficiency increases, my stress decreases and my profitability continues to increase. That for me is the equation that currently keeps my life more balanced.