Staging Your Practice for Success

Written by on April 1, 2014 in Features - No comments

As a Consultant, I am often asked “How can my practice be successful”?  With hospitals acquiring physician groups and costs of overhead expenditures continuing to rise, it can be difficult to be profitable and thriving in the healthcare industry.

I have some suggestions and with my background of teaching coding, billing and compliance, I feel like the exposure that I have has given me some insight to share this with others when asked.

1.)   The first recommendation is to stay on top of changes that occur in the industry.  For example, CPT and HCPCS codes change and evolve every year.  It is vital to order your resource material early in the year so that our billing staff and coders can have the latest and greatest information.  According to the OIG (Office of Inspector General); we must provide accurate coding and billing. It can be very discouraging for a patient to be asked why they are expected to pay for services and the person that we task to collect this money has no clue as to what and why we are billing them.  I firmly believe that knowledge is power and therefore training and continuing education is priceless.  The industry changes all of the time and we have to sharpen our skills on a continuum basis.  ICD-10 is right around the corner and bringing even more changes and a new language as to how we communicate diagnosis codes.  It is a very exciting time to be in healthcare.  Be sure to follow the letter of the law as state regulations and federal guidelines are in place for many reasons.  Compliance cannot be emphasized enough.

2.)  The second item is to maintain good working relationships with your peers and other consultants as well as your patients.  With health care reform upon us, quality care is what we all should strive for.  It is imperative to have a good networking system to ensure that the patients are receiving the best of care and can ensure our practice growth in the community.  Word of mouth is still the best marketing tool available.

3.)  Take care of your employees.  These folks are the heartbeat of your practice.  Happy employees tend to be on time for work, compassionate in their work and thus reduce costs and turnover within a practice.  If your staff feel that they are not equipped to handle job functions and do not feel appreciated in what they do, they may seek employment elsewhere.  Show respect and acknowledge how vital our team members are.  Employees need to feel like we care about them.  Offering appraisals and encouragement are just simple things that can be put into play.  Motivation techniques are invaluable.  Patients can feel tension if the staff are not treated well.

4.)  Keep the lines of communication open with everyone.  I like to poll patients periodically and just ask them to write down three things that they like about my practice.  It is a simple yet effective tool for finding out things that need my attention.  Not only will they list three things that they like about the office, but they also point out things that they don’t like or something that could use some improvement.  It is important to respect others viewpoints and concerns.  Constructive criticism offers us a chance to look at what others are seeing and we can learn from one another.

5.)  Offer payment options to patients and colleagues.  Patients want to know that you care about their physical, mental, emotional health more than you do your profit margin.  There could be missed opportunity in possibly adding a practice benefit to an employee.  Employees refer patients and if they express how caring and concerning the practice is about them as a staff member, it may send the message to the patient that the practice cares about their personal needs as well.  Look at your payment options, payment plans and what your outstanding A/R is. Asking for payment is not an easy task for everyone and therefore it is vital to have the best and qualified staff member in that role.

6.)  Keep medical and administrative costs to a minimum without sacrificing care.  Have staff be accountable for ordering only what they need and eliminate waste.  I have consulted a practice before where all the staff have left for the day but yet had left radios playing, computers on, space heaters left running, and lights burning all over the building.  Be conservative and let staff know that waste cannot be tolerated.  Little dollars can turn into big dollars.  We should all do our part to conserve.

7.)  Display honesty and integrity.  This is common sense.  I once sat in for an administrator and watched a staff member take toilet paper out of the office and load in her car as she left for the day.  Had she asked for a roll of toilet tissue, I would have certainly given it to her, but she took it without asking and therefore was stealing from the practice.  How was I to know that she was stealing other items as well?

8.)  Make it known that above all else, patients are our number one priority and taking care of them to the best of our ability should be our main focus.  Do not sacrifice things when it comes to patient care.  Never neglect your patient.  The golden rule still stands “treat others as you want to be treated”.

Patients are consumers and medicine is more competitive than ever before.  You want your practice to be the best within your area and a place where patients know that they can get the best care at the best price.  Simply stated, be the best that you can be.

By Rhonda Granja, BS, CMA, CMC, CMOM, CPC

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