Improve Your Medical Practice: Three Areas to Consider Making Changes

November 23, 2013

Proactively identifying positive changes to make at your practice will help it stay healthy, efficient, and productive.

Years ago when I was working in technology at a very aggressive startup company, our CEO bought everyone a copy of the book, “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson. In the world of startup companies, change is really the only constant, and some people were struggling with that concept. The book really helped a lot of people recognize that change can be a healthy thing.

Think of a stream that is constantly shifting and changing. It is moving with fresh water and fish. Now picture a stagnant pond that is drying up and is accumulating a layer of slime and mosquitoes. Which stream would you rather drink from?

Over the years I've recognized that many medical practices also struggle with embracing change as a healthy thing. But, just as is the case with the stream, positive changes can help keep your practice healthy and productive.

Here are three areas that you should be constantly checking (and considering changing) at your practice to make sure you are not turning into a stagnant pond:

1. Your Staff. Successful business owners and CEOs often follow the “always be interviewing” rule. In other words, they constantly keep an eye out for potential new staff members, such as at meet and greets and recruiting events.

Even if you are happy with your staff and your staffing level, keeping an eye out for potential new staff members is a good idea. You never know when that knock on the door is going to happen and a staff member is going to give you notice. It's always good to have some contacts and options available.

2. Your systems and processes. Technology can be a friend or foe if you are afraid of change. Know your processes down to every detail, and then look for ways to streamline and automate some of the tasks associated with them. You would be surprised how much money you can save in salaries alone by utilizing technology better.

If you are feeling in the dark about updating your systems, start asking your staff members if anyone would like to take on an extra project. Let them do the legwork and get back to you with their findings. Hire a computer professional for a few hours to review the findings and make sure systems are compatible.

3. Your patient population and payer mix. As a general rule, no one payer should dominate more than 25 percent of your patient population.  

If you have a predominantly Medicare population, perhaps it is time to start marketing to some of the area high schools. Kids are on their parent's plans, and more parents are working class so their employers offer private plans as a benefit.

By mixing up your patient population some, it will ensure that you do not get stuck holding all of the A/R if there is a problem with the insurance company paying.

These are just a few areas that you can start looking into today to ensure your practice is constantly changing for the better.