Striking the Balance Between Productivity and Quality of Care

According to a 2013 Physicians Practice survey, approximately 28% of physicians claim their pay is entirely dependent upon productivity, while only 8% cite quality and cost of care as the sole factor influencing their earnings. This means a vast majority of physicians fall somewhere in the middle, relying on both the quality and quantity of care they render when it comes to achieving financial success.

But it can be tricky to realize improvement in one area without seeing a drop off in the other. For instance, rushing patients through visits may cause an increase in misdiagnoses; whereas spending too much time on each patient may lead to fewer billable visits overall.

The following tips should help you strike that perfect balance between treating more patients and improving the quality of care.

Outsource Your Medical Billing

The Practice Profitability Index, a survey of more than 5,000 U.S. physicians, revealed that 58% of doctors spend the equivalent of one full workday a week completing paperwork rather than seeing patients. With outsourced medical billing, you’ll no longer have to worry about billing-related administrative duties.

The only paperwork you’ll have to take care of is the check you send to the billing company at the end of each month, which is typically a small percentage of your monthly collections. The rest of your newfound time can be spent on treating new patients.

Extend Your Operating Hours

Drastic changes like opening on weekends may lead to physician burnout, which can lead to a decrease in quality of care. But small adjustments, like opening 30 minutes earlier, will allow you to see more patients without dramatically altering your lifestyle.

If you schedule appointments in 15-minute intervals, you could see an additional two patients every day. Over the course of a full year, this could equate to almost 400 additional patients.

Create an Operations Manual

Constantly having to reinstruct your staff on standard tasks and procedures is a surefire way to kill productivity. Many questions can be avoided with the creation of an in-depth operations manual.

The manual should contain a sensible table of contents, clear-cut job descriptions and step-by-step instructions for completing key tasks. The extra effort of writing an operations manual now will save you from frequent interruptions down the line.

Reduce Patient No-Shows

Nothing is more unproductive than waiting around for a patient who never shows up. Combat this by getting patient no-shows down to a bare minimum.

Simple ways to do this include asking patients when they’d like to come in instead of assigning them the first available slot, which has been shown to improve the likelihood of patients showing up by 30%. Another is adopting practice management software that sends automatic reminders via text or emails, allowing your staff to focus more on the patients in the office rather than those you’ll be seeing later.

Utilize Non-Physician Practitioners (NPPs)

Bringing in another full-time physician may be ideal for increasing patient visits and ensuring top-notch care but it can be very expensive. Hiring or better utilizing existing NPPs is a relatively low-cost alternative. While not an absolute replacement for a licensed physician, NPPs can handle most of the more basic patient visits, freeing you up to treat patients with conditions that yield higher returns.

In this era of declining reimbursements, it’s becoming harder and harder for physicians to earn as much as they anticipated when going through the rigors of med school. But by focusing on tactics that will improve the quality of care while increasing productivity, you can get closer to your financial aspirations.

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Pros and Cons of In-house vs. Outsourced Medical Billing

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