Get Your Medical Practice Ready for 2014: Review These Three Areas

January 4, 2014

It's time to give your medical practice its annual check-up. Here are three areas to focus on to get started.

As we turn our backs on the previous year and welcome the new one with anticipation, it is time for medical practices to review a few key areas. 

I'm often asked, “What are the critical reports and areas that I need to monitor?”  My best answer is, “Know your entire business operation and process.” 

To place emphasis on one or two areas will limit your view and perception of your practice.  I use the phrase "flying at 30,000 feet" often.  You can see a lot more from stepping back and watching, than being buried in the details. 

That all said, at the minimum, you need to review these areas of your business annually:

• Policies and Procedures.  I know I write about these often, but they really are necessary and critical if you want accountability in your practice.  Read your entire operations manual.  As your businesses grow, your policies should change.  Some of your policies and procedures may be outdated.  You should review your holiday schedule, as well.  Dr. Melissa Young's blog post in early December made it clear just how important it is to do this annually. Be sure all of your staff members are aware of the schedule.  You will need to block out holidays, and consider taking away the controls that allow other staff members to block out days on your behalf.  Remember, it is YOUR business.  YOU pick what holidays to take off.

• Inflow goals.  You need inflow to pay your bills, your staff, and yourself.  You need to make sure you have updated your cash flow goals with your expenses.  Consider whether you expenses increased, and get a good handle on who gets to spend your money.  Do you have multiple people buying office supplies?  You would be shocked at how much this can add up when multiple people are spending.  With the unknown policies coming out of the new insurance exchanges, your reimbursement could be getting cut, as well.  Be sure to take that into account when setting this goal.

• Marketing Plan.  Even if it is simply having your patients sign up for a monthly e-mailed newsletter, you need to have some kind of contact with your current patient population.  There are many ways that you can market your practice that will not cost you an arm and a leg.  Don't have patient email addresses?  Have a one-page printed newsletter in your office so when patients are waiting, they have something to read instead of those outdated magazines.  In the newsletter, have a contact section so that your patients always know how to get in touch with your practice, particularly if there is an emergency.  You can also have a healthy eating section, and provide a great tasting, healthy recipe.  The idea is for the patient to take the newsletter home.  You need to keep your current customers happy, and touching base with them is the best way to do that.

There are really dozens of reports and areas that need reviewing on an annual, quarterly and monthly basis, but focusing on the above three will help you get started. If you are keeping up with these, you really should have no problems or surprises at the end of the year.