Alternatives to Closing to New Patients

February 1, 2008

I'm in the process of hiring a clinical nurse specialist. I need to increase her patient load while decreasing my own. I've considered sending a letter to my referral sources touting her skills. I've also seriously thought about not taking new patients for a time. Your thoughts are always appreciated.

Question: I'm in the process of hiring a clinical nurse specialist. I need to increase her patient load while decreasing my own. I've considered sending a letter to my referral sources touting her skills. I've also seriously thought about not taking new patients for a time. Your thoughts are always appreciated.

Answer: I would think twice before closing your office to new patients. You don’t want all the referrals to stop; it's hard to get them started again when you do need more patients. You might do better to cancel contracts with your worst payers. That will reduce your load of patients while making sure the patients you do have are the “right” ones. Also, take a look at your scheduling habits. Are you possibly seeing patients that don’t really need seeing or that you could responsibly see at longer intervals?

I like the idea of letting your referring sources know about your new hire and how great she is. Do the same with your patients. Your scheduler can tell new patients all about her when they call, as well.

If the CNS has a particular area of interest that you think would benefit some existing patients, don’t hesitate to recommend they see her because you think she might help them even better than you can.