I have not met a doctor yet who wanted to work harder, not smarter. Now more than ever before, we need to be more resourceful. It is necessary to find better ways to pinch our pennies, cut our overhead, eliminate unnecessary spending, operate more efficiently and better manage cash, staff, time, systems and marketing.
It is time to reassess and think positively at the same time. Necessary changes can lead to innovative ideas, which lead to renewed, more effective efficiencies. Keep an open mind and read on for some simple tactics.
Make sure your daily schedule indicates any patient balances owed so the front desk staff can collect these past due balances at the time they collect patient co-pays. Encourage staff to be proactive in their collection efforts by replacing “Do you have a co-pay/balance?” with “Your co-pay/balance today is …” for more effective outcomes.
Don’t overload your reception room with too many magazines. Reduce your subscriptions to only the preferred favorites. Offer select podiatry-educational articles to supplement.
Negotiate with suppliers for the best possible prices on bulk supplies and shipping costs for your most used items.
Monitor your accounts receivable numbers to ensure that collection efforts are being maximized.
Increase your market acumen. Research and understand your changing community. Ask yourself “What do our competitors offer that we do not?” or “What makes our practice so special?” and build on your unique strengths.
Give your website a facelift to draw attention to more of the types of conditions you enjoy treating. Be the expert. Consider search engine (Google, Yahoo, etc.) optimization so people can find you first and fast.
Review or create a marketing budget and monitor your return on investment. Spend your marketing dollars on those promotional activities that have proven worthwhile and drop those that have not.
Use your patient emails to stay in contact with patients (e.g., notices and practice updates, educational info, newsletters, etc.).
Bump up your training. Give staff the proper knowledge and tools to maximize their output.
Tap into your staff’s strengths. Not only can you delegate some activities to staff that you might normally outsource but if they enjoy doing it, they will apply themselves in a much bigger way. Improper job placement yields less energy and a slower pace.
Integrate the staff into treatment protocols for enhanced preparation of each patient encounter.
When managing your appointment schedule, be realistic. If you insist on coming in 10 minutes late every morning, schedule patients similarly. Schedule for the number of patients you can see, not for the number of rooms in your office. (It does not matter where patients wait but that they are waiting.)
Use a “wait list” to refill empty time slots in your schedule
Can something you do be done a little better? You will never know unless you try. Review and revise your systems for improved outcomes. Ask for staff ideas and input. Just do it.
Send new patients to your website to fill out their registration forms and retrieve instructional forms. What? No Web site? Get one now!
Get preferred patient email addresses, cell phone numbers and contact them where and when they can best be reached when you need to.
Do a time and motion study to measure patient flow. Depending on the specialty, the average patient wait time is 23 minutes and the average time patients spend in the office is 60-90 minutes.1 Are you better or worse? How can you improve without sacrificing quality patient care?
Sometimes the little things we focus on may seem to save only a penny or only a minute, but when we multiply them, they equate to increased value, benefit and cost savings for your practice. So, do you want to dwell on the absurdity of incidental changes or be smarter, implement them and laugh all the way to the bank?
1. Alderman L. The doctor will see you … eventually. New York Times. Published Aug. 1, 2011. Accessed Aug. 4, 2014. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/health/policy/02consumer.html?_r=0  .