Avoid Shutting the Doors at Your Medical Practice

It seems healthcare lives in a rather baroque age. Despite a seemingly positive development like the Affordable Care Act and advances in health IT, reporters and research firms release statistic after dismal statistic, and clinician attitudes become increasingly more negative on a daily basis.

Let’s look at the facts. According to an MDLinx survey, 32% of smaller practice physicians predicted 2012 would be one of their worst earning years ever, nearly 40% reported cutting back personnel and services, and 43% used personal savings or borrowed money to keep their practices above water.

The landscape is terrifying, and I’m sure you share some of these concerns. But it seems every option you consider is a dead end. How do you keep from pulling the plug on your practice?

Disaster Planning
Most persons associate disaster planning with earthquake and hurricane prevention. However, it may be a good idea to protect your practice against security breaches and bankruptcy in the same way.

Develop a plan and procedure for disasters that could cause your practice to go under at staff meetings, and make sure to include everyone. Begin with an informal and open discussion about issues like cutting costs, how to welcome more patients and how to maximize everyone’s efforts so as not to hire new staff members, which cost more money.

Ask staff members at your practice to list all possible financial ‘disasters’ like security breaches, overborrowing or staff cuts with ideas to prevent and/or assuage them, in order to start forming an overarching contingency plan.

And in the case that an actual natural disaster strikes and endangers your practice’s livelihood, purchasing practice-based insurance policies to cover these areas wouldn’t hurt.

Partnering with Reliable Vendors
It’s essential that you partner with vendors who have enough clout to assist your medical entrepreneurial endeavor. Your vendors must be dependable and accommodating, offering a variety of reasonably priced products.

Most of all, their reputation should precede them. The financial health of your practice depends on whether you can establish long-term relationships with your suppliers. They must share your interest in improving the health of your patients. 

Join Associations
Building industry credibility helps patients, other practices and the industry at large recognize how serious you are about keeping your medical practice open.

Memberships to some of these associations provide your practice access to certification and educational opportunities, not to mention networking events where you can meet industry peers, suppliers, and vendors. Maybe even investors, too.

The American Medical Association even offers practice management tools to help you run your practice, both from administrative and patient care standpoints. And there are myriad free and low-cost publications out there that offer tools to help you run your practice. Get informed today – returning to Power Your Practice every so often doesn’t hurt, either.

The National Medical Association even has an online newsroom and features education and networking events. Due to the ACA and other initiatives, health reform is occurring at a rapid pace, so staying up to date with e-alerts, webinars, and networking is essential.

No Layoffs
While laying off staff reduces overhead in the short term, propping up your bottom line this way is among the worst decisions you can make for your practice.

Laying off staff can destroy morale and make the rest of the staff work harder with longer hours, which results in increased carelessness and inefficiency. Forget the bottom – focus on the top line.

Adopt New Technology
While this may seem counterintuitive because of the price tag on some of these purchases, adopting health information technology may be among the best things you can do to cut excess costs.

An efficient EHR means your practice can go paperless, saving you thousands yearly. Also, updated technology results in decreased energy costs, and the most efficient devices and applications can save physicians time with note-taking and transcription, ordering lab results and automating ePrescriptions.

Furthermore, many of these technologies employ advanced data analytics that help practices access real-time, online patient account balances as well as detailed views of your practice’s revenue cycle. Spotting loopholes in both could save you thousands yearly.

It goes further than that. Spotting loopholes across the categories above will save your practice.

What are you doing to avoid shutting down your practice?

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