Another strategy Fisher's practice employs is requiring all patients with high-deductible plans to keep a credit or debit card on file. "This way, we don't have to bill patients; instead, we can charge their card," he says. "We always collect everything we're entitled to while keeping administrative costs down. If a patient doesn't want to provide a card, he is required to pay the estimated amount of the visit at the time of service or he can't be a patient. Most patients don't have a problem with this because we explain that this keeps costs down by not having to bill and rebill them."
Charlene K. Mooney, a consulting executive with Halley Consulting Group, a practice management and consulting firm in Columbus, Ohio, is also a proponent of implementing a policy to collect payments at the time of service. "Train staff how to ask for money, since this can be uncomfortable, yet effective," she says. "Don't ask 'Do you want to pay your copay today?' Instead, say 'Your copay is this amount. How would you like to pay it today? We take cash, check, or credit card.'"
Mooney also recommends asking staff to offer suggestions and help create a plan of action for patient collections. "Without [staff] buy-in, it can be difficult to bring about improvement," she says.
Take a good look at your office — are you using all available space? Could you use more space? If you can afford to expand your office, perhaps you could add another exam room or sublease some space to another provider, Mooney says.
She also suggests tracking charges from companies that provide equipment, supplies, and services — such as laundry or waste management. "Periodically look at renegotiating the contract or even checking out other [service] providers," Mooney says. "If you need equipment, leasing versus purchasing may be more economical."
When hiring staff, make good decisions so that you don't have to incur turnover costs, Mooney says. Cross-train employees so when absences occur, staff can fill in for each other. Then, employ measures to retain good staff members by making sure that you offer a pay scale and benefits package that is competitive with your market.
"Consider ways to decrease [staff] health insurance costs, such as increasing deductibles, co-pays, or premiums, or making adjustments in types of coverage," Mooney says.
One way to boost your revenue is to retain existing patients. In order to achieve this, you must offer outstanding customer service. "Every staff member from the receptionist to the provider must be committed to serving each patient to their best ability — making them feel welcome, communicating with them at every encounter, and providing quality care and treatment," Mooney says.