Operating a medical or dental practice involves a lot of moving parts that go beyond patient care, such as communications, billing, insurance, and documentation. Here are our top 9 tips to build greater efficiencies into your practice and pave the way for success.
1. Identify and Analyze the Right Metrics
Without relevant metrics to measure performance, it’s nearly impossible to plan for growth or adapt to change. Measuring performance will help you reach goals, make improvements, and benchmark your practice against standards.
Metrics Your Medical Practice Should Be Tracking:
- Number of patient visits
- Average length of appointments
- Patient satisfaction ratings
- Number and frequency of clinical errors
- Average time from visit to payment by patients and insurance
- Billing and collection efficiency
You can monitor these metrics internally, but you can also opt for medical practice consulting. With this type of consulting, you’re enlisting an experienced third-party to examine your performance , discover valuable insights, and catch costly errors.
2. Make a Strategic Investment in Technology
Technology is integral to running an effective medical or dental practice, but it requires an investment. A strategic investment in technology can help improve the patient experience and ensure your practice thrives.
- Software Automation and Workflows
These allow your staff to focus on patients and their needs, rather than devoting their time to data entry and payment processing.
- Virtual Visits
Virtual visits can free up your waiting room for issues that demand in-person services. The convenience of telemedicine may mean more regular virtual visits so you can monitor patient health and deliver quality care.
Medical practice consultants can help you identify the right technology for your practice’s operations, integrate it into your processes, and train your staff to use it effectively.
Struggling to find a balance between operational IT spend and transformational IT spend? You’re not alone. Learn how organizations can allocate their IT budget for a strategic, long-term investment.
3. Use Analytics to Make Data-Driven Decisions
How to Leverage Data in All Aspects of Your Medical Practice:
- Operational analytics and leading indicators help with relevant decision-making
- Real-time location services (RTLS) offer insight into provider performance
- Business Intelligence informs operational improvements
- Population health data improves patient outcomes and provides the best quality care
4. Develop a Solid Communication Plan for Quick Decision Making
If your decisions stall action or leave expectations unclear, it leads to confusion, miscommunication and, ultimately, poor patient care. To build immediacy into your processes, clearly define and document key decision-makers, rules for communications and approvals, and best-practice responses for various scenarios. Each staff member should understand their role in the decision-making process, who to inform and when it’s appropriate to act.
5. Plan Ahead for the Unexpected
Planning for multiple scenarios in key areas of your medical practice will help you adapt and remain in operation through any disruption or change. This planning should include worst-case to best-case options, keeping in mind that even best-case scenarios can be mismanaged.
Key Scenarios All Medical Practices Should Plan For:
You may need to reduce, increase, or alter your workforce. Develop processes for properly managing each scenario. Enlist a legal consultant to ensure your plans meet legal guidelines. Additionally, the American Medical Association recommends helping any relieved staff find alternative opportunities.
- Office Closures
Should you need to close your office, plan how you’ll communicate that closure to patients, staff and relevant third parties like vendors. Remember to assign the responsibility of patient communications throughout your office closure to specific staff members in case your patients need immediate assistance.
- Supply Shortages
Plan for scenarios in which various items run low and you’re unable to resupply as you would regularly. What alternatives do you have? How will you communicate any resultant cancellations?
- Financial Disruption
Planning for various forms of financial disruption is vital for any business. Medical and professional financial management begins with an analysis of where you stand today to help you understand the possibilities ahead. What steps will you take first, second and third should you experience a significant disruption? Who must you communicate with concerning the disruption?
6. Set High Standards for Medical Reporting and Documentation
It may seem like a given that medical and dental practices should be careful about documentation and reporting. However, it’s not uncommon for busy practices to get too relaxed about these key activities. Issues like illegible writing, lack of notation about a complaint or condition and patient misidentification can lead to poor or improper care. Some situations even call for extra reporting, such as opioid use.
The American Health Information Management Association has developed seven key strategies for proper clinical documentation that should be present in every entry in a patient’s health record, regardless of diagnosis:
7. Build Resilience into Your Medical Practice by Evaluating Regularly
To build resilience and strength into your practice, you must remain observant and do ongoing evaluations. Evaluate several internal and external components to manage your finances, processes, risks, and operations.
Keep an eye on news from trusted sources that’s relevant to your practice, especially if it could affect your day-to-day operations.
Are you providing optimum services? Can you adjust your offerings to improve efficiency, impact, and benefit?
Are there regular errors, delays, or issues at your practice? How can you work with your staff to reduce them?
Are you capturing payments and cash flow in a balanced, sustainable timeframe? How can you improve on this?
8. Make Cybersecurity a Top Priority
As you introduce new technology and processes to improve your operations, you must ensure proper cybersecurity measures are also put in place. It’s imperative to remain vigilant about regulations and compliance relevant to protecting that information. In fact, in healthcare, it tends to take longer to discover a cybercriminal has infiltrated your network and respond.
Cybersecurity Must-Haves for Every Medical Practice:
- Employee training around common scams, such as email phishing and ransomware
- Policies and procedures for accessing systems and data, such as multi-factor authentication
- A security program to monitor for specific risks in your industry
9. Weigh Your Option to Sell, Consolidate, or Stay Put
New practices and those facing hardship must decide if they’ll run an independent practice, join a health system, or join a private equity group.
Here’s what to know about each option:
- Health System
You get paid to see patients, with some administrative pay. The main way to make more money is to increase patient volumes. If you’re a good doctor, however, the health system might be willing to lose money on your practice to support your service in the community.
- Private Equity Group
In this setting, the entity must make money. This leaves only two basic options: see more patients or get paid less in anticipation of a payout when the group potentially flips the business.
- Independent Practice
In this scenario, you have control over your schedule, how many patients you see and how you manage your staff. Successful independent owners enjoy running a business of their own and often invest in many services. Their income isn’t based solely on how many patients they see each day. Owning your own business isn’t for everyone, but it can be very rewarding.
Looking for more ways to improve your finances and operations? We can help.