9 Strategies to Improve Medical Practice Income
The rising cost of operations and the increasing administrative burden due to new payment models and legislations has left many medical practices struggling to keep their head above water. In these competitive times, a multi-pronged approach is necessary to maintain profitability. Every practice is different and not every strategy is applicable across the board. But here are 9 strategies, which with a little time and investment could improve your medical practice income.
#1: Online Presence
If your medical practice does not have a professional website or other online presence, for example, a Facebook page, you are missing out on a great way to engage with existing patients and enroll new patients. Surveys show that more than 70 percent of people obtain medical information from the internet and more than 60 percent rely on online reviews when selecting a new physician. This makes it vital for your practice to have an online presence.
Besides developing a professional website, you should consider listing your website on review sites and online directories. The more your practice shows up in search results, the higher the chances of new patients finding you.
#2: Co-pay Collection
The number of patients on high deductible insurance plans has been rising in the past few years. About one-fifth of the income at a medical practice comes from patient co-pays. High deductibles mean patients are less likely to clear outstanding bills. It is, therefore, imperative that your medical practice has a good collection strategy in place.
Surveys show that physicians only manage to collect 60 percent of what they are owed. If your practice is struggling with a poor collection rate, it may be worthwhile to employ a professional collection agency. You could also try using one of these tactics:
- Automated bill payment reminders
- Transparent payment policy
- Medical billing software
- Easily accessible payment portals
- Easy payment plans
- Trained staff
#3: Extended Hours and Virtual Consultations
After-hours clinics and virtual visits will increase your revenue and offer your patients greater convenience, putting your practice a step ahead of your competition. It is true that every physician wants to achieve a healthy work-life balance, but consider squeezing in some after-hours from home or doing virtual (video) consultations to improve practice revenue.
#4: Staff Motivation
Like any organization, the staff at a medical practice are its most valuable resource. It’s simple – happy staff equals happy patients. To this end, the work culture at your medical practice should be one of encouragement and positive feedback. Delegate responsibility and schedule regular one-on-one meetings. You can motivate your staff to give it their best through:
- Creating a team environment
- Regular performance reviews
- Generous gratitude and praise
#5: Accessory Staff
Even small practices employ at least a couple of accessory staff such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. You should ensure your medical practice is utilizing the skillset of these staff members to the maximum. For example, a physician’s packed schedule should not be disrupted by a short, urgent visit if the PA can handle the situation. This will allow your practice to offer same-day treatment to patients, and you will bring in more revenue by having extender staff do the tasks that are a part of their pay level.
#6: Appointment Schedule
A well-organized appointment schedule can go a long way in improving practice income. Bottlenecks in the workflow can leave you with unhappy patients due to long wait times. A streamlined patient flow keeps wait times low and also allows your practice to accommodate same-day walk-ins. Some of the strategies you can employ include:
- Virtual visits
- Pre-visit updating of patient information
- Delegation of documentation
- Strict no-show and late arrivals policy
#7: Payer Contracts
One strategy to increase your practice revenue is to renegotiate payer contracts from time to time. If you can demonstrate good care outcomes and cost efficiency, you are in a position to leverage an increase in fee schedules. If you find it overwhelming to do this on your own, consider hiring a healthcare business consultant to present your case to payers.
#8: Missed Appointments
You may be surprised to learn that no-shows and late cancellations could be costing your medical practice thousands of dollars every year. You can’t expect patients to never have an emergency – sometimes babysitters don’t show up, cars break down, there are traffic hold-ups. What you can do is enforce a strict cancellation policy and perhaps even a no-show fee to discourage missed appointments for invalid reasons. Again, virtual visits may be an effective way of reducing skipped appointments.
#9: Concierge Model
In the concierge model, patients pay a retainer (flat fee) for highly attentive 24x7 care, including same-day visits, cell phone access to the physician, and other amenities. If you have a high Medicaid population, the concierge model may not work for you, but if your practice can implement this model, you might be able to carry a smaller patient load with increased revenue. Although conversion to a concierge model is no small project, it can have big payoffs for your practice.