Opening and operating a medical practice, whether it is a clinic or hospital, is not an easy task. This past year has further cemented the importance of healthcare practices and the need that patients have. Maybe your practice has been open for many years, or perhaps it has just opened. Whichever the case, if you need to expand or enhance your practice’s operations, we have prepared some tips on what your practice could do.
What Are Your Goals?
First consider what your goals are for your practice. Is it to increase patient satisfaction? Or is it to increase staff productivity? Maybe you want to expand your practice to a secondary location. Whatever the case may be, it is important to reflect on your practice’s current circumstances, note down which functions are working well and which could be improved.
If your goal is to expand your practice to a secondary location for example, what are some action items that you need to complete to accomplish this? What is your budget? These are just some considerations. Be clear about what your goals are, and then analyze what you need to do exactly to get there. Acknowledge obstacles and think about contingency plans.
Whether you want to expand or improve on your operations, the following are some things we think might be worth considering.
Cash Flow and Billing Cycles
Delivering the best in patient care is key, and we understand the importance of having sufficient operating and overhead finances to be able to do so. Most healthcare practices receive these funds in the form of billing and collections. Take a look at your current cash flows and current billing cycles. What is doing well and what would you like improved? Do you need a certain amount of funds for what you are trying to accomplish?
One aspect of finances that you can analyze is your working capital. Does your practice have adequate working capital to accomplish what you want to do? Perhaps you want to hire an extra staff member and need a certain amount of funds to cover hiring costs. Analyze your working capital, current assets and current liabilities, to see if there’s any areas that can be improved. This way you can see if there are any funds available to grow or enhance areas of your practice.
Your working capital and billing cycles could be closely tied. For example, part of your current assets are accounts receivables, which for healthcare practices could include billed but not yet received claims. As well, your cash account could also increase if billing is optimized. Thus, it is important to improve your billing cycle.
The billing cycle can take, on average, 30-45 days from the moment you bill to when you receive notifications about payments or denials. If there is a denial, the collection period can be even longer. That is why it is important to optimize and shorten this cycle as much as possible.
One way to improve this cycle is to bill in a timely manner. It is important to not let your claims pile up or it can increase the time to collections even further. Here are some more tips on improving this process.
Lastly, another way you can optimize your billing cycle is by outsourcing. This allows your practice to free up your administrative burdens and focus on other aspects of your practice more. Billing companies concentrate on billing and can focus their time on timely claims submissions, follow-ups, and making appeals. This can help to shorten your billing cycle and add revenue to your practice.
Technology & Productivity
Technology is one part of a healthcare practice that is especially important in today’s environment. The pandemic has increased the importance of virtual care and the use of technology. These changes can help your practice stay connected with and reach more patients.
Moreover, technology can be used to enhance many parts of a healthcare practice. One way that many practices are already implementing technology is with the use of electronic health records. By digitizing patient records, physicians can easily access important medical information and treat the patients with more ease and accuracy. It also results in easier administrative processes as patient records get updated and information needs to be added or edited.
Even with important pre-registration information, having items such as patients’ insurance information stored electronically can be of great help. Coders and billers can access needed information with ease and incorporate it into their own billing software.
Through faster administrative processes, patient wait times could also decrease. For example if a patient comes in to sign in for an appointment, through the use of technology, the clinic staff can easily pull up the patient’s appointment, sign them in, update medical information, check for any insurance information, etc. This whole process could be sped up significantly compared to staff searching through paper records, taking notes manually, organizing medical information, etc.
With more efficiencies in your practice, there could be benefits such as improving productivity, as well as patient wait times, which is a problem that affects patient satisfaction. This was looked into through this study, where a clinic on the Keck Medical Centre of University of Southern California was able to decrease the time patients spent in the clinic while not compromising patient satisfaction in feeling that the physician had spent enough time with them.
Technology is becoming a vital part of today’s environment and keeping up-to-date with it can help enhance your practice by connecting patient records to the relevant parties who need the information. However, please be very cautious to follow HIPAA guidelines for electronic records and keep all confidential information secure. If you are implementing new technology that involves patient records, be sure to research it and ensure it is HIPAA compliant.
Communicating With Patients
Another aspect to consider is the quality of communications between your practice and your patients. This does not mean the communication during patient appoints, rather, we are talking about communication that goes on throughout the year.
What could this include? For example, think about how your practice communicates with patients about appointments being booked. Is it through email? Is it through more traditional means such as a telephone call? How do patients find out about your practice’s opening and closing times?
All of this can fall into communications. Relating to the technology aspect of enhancing your practice, does your practice have a website? If not, maybe it is something to consider. This will allow patients to find, with more ease, important information such as your practice’s schedule, phone numbers, other contact information, etc. If they need to check whether your practice is open or not, it gives another option to calling and asking. Ensure it is user friendly, mobile friendly, and updated with the latest information.
Perhaps your practice is going to be doing some important renovations or there are new protocols in place for visits. You can put all this information on your website or send out emails to communicate this to patients. Whichever the case, having a reliable platform for communicating and connecting with patients gives an added degree of patient care outside of appointments.
Not only is the outward communication important, but allowing patients to communicate back with ease is important as well. Allow patients to be able to ask questions or provide answers that they may be looking for. For instance, if a patient wonders what they need for pre-registration and the first appointment, how are your patients able to make contact with someone at the clinic to ask these questions? You can allow them to call in, email, or maybe even post this information on a website so they can access it at any time.
Whether you are trying to enhance patient care even more or wanting to attract new patients, boosting your external communications helps add to your practice’s image and can help it grow even more.
At the end of the day it is about the patients. Whether it is through expanding capital or enhancing technology and other aspects of quality of patient care, there’s different angles of looking into what can be improved or expanded to meet that high quality of care that patients value.
Are you needing capital to grow your practice? Americare Network not only bills for the long term, but we also provide immediate financing for your healthcare practice. Book an appointment for a free consultation today to learn more about how we can help you while you help your patients and grow your practice.