Not enough, not enough money and too many demands. I’ve been hearing a lot of this from physicians and administrators who are worried about the future of the practice and wondering how in the heck they can make things better. If you want 2009 to get better quit singing the blues. Here’s a few things you can do to make a difference.

  1. Have a plan! Start by looking at the numbers to see how well your practice performed in 2008 in comparison to the prior year. Are your charges up or down? Is your accounts receivable stable? How about your profit – are you taking more or less home this year? If trends are out of norm ,you had better start digging deeper to get to the cause and the fix.
  2. Once you have the numbers in hand, set realistic performance goals for 2009. If reimbursement is expected to be about the same, increasing production means seeing more patients or providing more services. If your goal is to take home a bigger piece of the pie look for ways shrink some of those expenses by managing operations better and giving staff the tools and motivation to be more productive.
  3. Develop a Quality Plan that reduces errors and improves outcomes throughout the office. This plan should include setting performance expectations for each position. Hold staff accountable to specific standards that are measurable and can be monitored.
  4. Attract more patients. Look for ways to expand your referral base from within the practice. Start by taking a critical look at your website, make it a marketing tool and a customer service tool. Spotlight your services and the benefits of choosing your practice. Develop a patient portal that makes it convenient for patients to check lab results, request prescription referrals and even make appointments.
  5. Get every patient’s cell phone number and e mail address. This will enable you to reach them with ease and communicate better. The age of technology is here and e mail can move information at the speed of light, saving lots of time and eliminating “telephone madness” in your office.
  6. Embrace technology – make it your new best friend. Technology will save time and save you dollars. Automate to reduce all those paper processes, improve consistency and provide tracking tools you can depend on. Here are just a few examples: Automatic payroll deposits, electronic banking, electronic claims payment, e-prescribing and (of course) the electronic medical record.

Contact Judy Capko, one of America’s best known practice management consultants: www.capko.com

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