Q4 is here! For many practices, it’s the busiest time of the year, as patients who’ve been timing their care to maximize the value of their insurance coverage or their tax deductions are now ready to schedule. During this period, a greater proportion of reimbursement will usually be collected from health plans, rather than patients. That means it’s a good time to maximize productivity and generate revenue that can be collected more easily — both to close the year out on a high note, and to prepare for Q1, when the pattern reverses. In January, patients are more likely to put off services if they feel they can, thanks to the double whammy of the deductible reset and holiday bills coming due.

Looking out over the coming five-six months, it may seem like much is out of your control. And it’s true that the hard deadline of December 31 isn’t something you can change. But you do have choices to make.

When you consider how you’ll prepare for the deductible reset, will you fight the slowdown with marketing? Or will you plan to use the downtime in other ways?

If you decide to go to combat the deductible reset slowdown with marketing, much depends on your specialty and your local market. And if you decide instead to go with the flow, you’ll still need to start planning now, to be sure your opportunity isn’t wasted.

Either way, your first step should be a thorough analysis of how the deductible reset has affected your practice’s workload in the past, and a projection for the impact in Q1 2017. Then if you’re planning to try to boost volume, you’ll need to consider your strategy (preventive care? elective services?). And if you want to take advantage of an anticipated slowdown, be strategic about it and plan for scheduling adjustments now.

In my upcoming webinar (October 20, 10:00 Pacific), I’ll delve into some of these ideas and possibilities. It’s free, thanks to my generous host and sponsor, Kareo.  Click this link to sign up.  Look forward to your participation and questions!

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