This is certainly a reasonable question to ask considering the rapid-fire change, threats and unknown factors medical practices face due to the Affordable Care Act. But here are a few things you can do to deal with all of this.
First, keep your eye on the ball. Don’t throw up your hands in frustration, but follow the news and the legislation that is likely to impact the way you practice medicine, your future stability and the care and service offered to your patients. Read everything you can and keep your cool. In other words, don’t throw your hands up in despair. Put the emotions aside and be prepared to respond. If you know what’s coming down the pike you can be practice-ready and take strategic actions rather than wait, feel the panic and be reactive, which typically leads to poor, costly decisions. Well thought out decisions will explore not only the potential threats, but the opportunities that are available to you and your colleagues without compromising your integrity or patient care and service.
Next, look at the numbers. How well did your practice perform compared to prior year and compared to other practices in your specialty? Benchmarking will help you examine the trends so you can examine areas where performance was disappointing and seek ways to bolster them for next year. The numbers tell the story of past performance and give you an opportunity to set future goals that keep the practice stable and on financially solid ground.
Don’t make squeezing cost a primary focus. Sure, it’s normal to focus on costs when reimbursement is tight and may get tighter, but in reality you can only squeeze costs so much. If you focus most of your efforts on costs you are likely to reduce quality and service. The highest expense for a medical practice is staffing, but the old saying: “You pay peanuts, you get monkeys” is true. Hire well – highly skilled and experienced people; respect them, pay them well and set high expectation goals and staff well help your organization to me more profitable. Physicians and managers can delegate more when they have skilled staff. When they delegate more, they get more done — and for physicians and other providers, this means generating more revenue. This is one of the better places for management to focus its energy.
Finally, have a plan. Developing a strategic plan and having annual retreat will give you a much needed blueprint to get through the year and come out a better performing practice. I recommend you hire a consultant to facilitate and guide the strategic retreat. He or she can help the management team define the practice’s goals and essential actions required to accomplish those goals. The consultant will make this a priority and keep you on track, so leaders can get back to managing the business and keep physicians productive and generating revenue to increase profitability.
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