Locating the Strengths and Opportunities at Your Medical Practice

December 10, 2011

Understanding your practice’s strengths and areas for opportunity can elevate your business to the next level.

Last week, we looked at identifying a few areas that you can quickly and easily change in your medical practice that will make a profound effect on your bottom line. This week, I'd like to discuss the evaluation of your current set of resources, and how understanding your practice’s strengths and areas for opportunity can elevate your business to the next level.

A resource can be described as: “a source of supply, support, or aid, especially one that can be readily drawn upon when needed.”When applying this definition, you need to look at: time, personnel, finances, billing, etc. Regardless if you have a single clinic, or several separate locations, looking at each of these areas is a critical step in maximizing your efficiency.

Each of us has the same 24 hours in one single day to accomplish everything that we want or need to. Do you know where all of your time is spent? By simply asking yourself this question each morning, you become more and more aware of where all of your time is going.

Establishing a consistent routine throughout the day will prevent distractions and other time wasters. You can see patients, manage your clinics, and follow up with all of the necessary paperwork! So many physicians and clinicians start early, leave late, and feel they have not accomplished anything throughout the day. Compartmentalize your day and you will be much more relaxed. Always schedule in time for emergencies. They most always come up, and if any given day they do not, you have yourself a few minutes of free time.

Evaluating personnel can be tricky, if approached from a negative angle. So when looking at this area, observe and listen to your staff for a week or so. Find the talents and strengths of those staff members. Look at your front and back office duties and responsibilities. Is your staff in the appropriate positions for their strengths? Sometimes providing a new opportunity by moving your staff around can really improve morale and productivity. Some employees who are working in the back office work much better face-to-face with your patients. Just because you hired someone for a particular position does not mean you have to keep them in that position. Once you have identified all of the positions and job duties, you will need to make sure that your policies and procedures are current and up-to-date. What you might find is that you are paying your staff to do duplicate work, unbeknownst to you. You might also find that something is not being done, that you feel is important. Your staff can assist you with this task, as it can take some time. Ask each person to provide a list of duties for their position, and then review those. If you have an office manager or supervisor, have them type up a set of policies and procedures based upon the feedback from your staff. Keep in mind while evaluating this area of your business, that it is your company. You get to make the decisions.

Taking a step back and looking at your daily, weekly and monthly expenditures is worthwhile to undertake. Do you know where your money is being spent? Do you rely on one person to provide this information to you? Is your staff taking in co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles via cash payments? Is there a checks and balances system in place that ensures you are receiving and depositing all of those payments? These are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself and knowing the answers without hesitation. With finances, there should always be a system in place that allows you to view monies in and out with ease, down to the penny.

Reviewing your current billing company is a critical step in your overall evaluation process. Sit down with them with a form (like you would an employee) and review their process and follow-up, staff knowledge and skill set, interaction with your employees and patients, collections rate, and error rate. These areas are the most critical in determining if you are utilizing the billing company (or department) to the maximum, or if perhaps your clinics have outgrown your particular billing system. Most billing companies welcome the interaction of its clients, as it also will provide them an opportunity to evaluate your office and how information is flowing to them. If they are being provided minimal or incorrect information from your staff, you cannot expect them to collect on all claims.

Start looking at these few areas, and you may find more that you can evaluate. Either way, changing your focus will allow for new opportunities to modify your behaviors and increase your productivity.

Next week we will review some implementation processes that you can utilize today.

Find out more about P.J. Cloud-Moulds and our other Practice Notes bloggers.