Attracting new patients and staying afloat are perhaps the biggest objectives of most independent medical practice businesses. Amidst all the competing priorities and daily activities, it may seem appropriate to react to issues as they arise rather than taking intentional, proactive steps to practice management.
However, running a medical practice business on-the-fly is a recipe for frustrated patients and staff, limited financial viability, and missed opportunities. By optimizing their businesses, practice leaders can increase efficiency, boost performance, enhance patient satisfaction, and plan for the unexpected. Here are five ways practice leaders can optimize their medical practice businesses.
1. Leverage Your Primary Assets
The most valuable assets of most practices are its human resources. Practice leaders can optimize their businesses by honing the talents and skills of their employees. Closely reviewing the assignment, delegation, and performance of tasks among front-line staff and clinicians can give meaningful insight into skill gaps, job matching, and other areas that need improvement. For instance, physicians may feel bogged down by to-do lists that hinder them from working at the top of their licenses.
2. Evaluate and Standardize Processes
Process evaluation and standardization are the best ways to enhance efficiency, personnel allocation, reliability, and patient satisfaction, considering the recurring nature of a medical practice’s tasks. Standardization drives process accuracy and reliability by ensuring similar activity execution every time.
Consistent processes also ensure that all staff members understand their responsibilities and can cover for each other during sick days or vacations without compromising overall productivity. Patient satisfaction improves when they know what to expect at the practice and are not compelled to repeatedly provide the same information.
3. Make the Most of Technology
A solid technological foundation underpins both process standardization and talent optimization. Given the diversity of medical software solutions, getting the appropriate software can divert precious time and resources away from core activities such as patient care. Here are some of the software solutions medical practices should consider using to optimize their operations.
- Patient Scheduling
Scheduling software makes setting and managing patient appointments seamless. It can integrate patient demographics, contact information, chief complaints, billing information, and appointment time.
- EHR (Electronic Health Records)
EHR software digitally stores patient health data. It helps in tracking patient demographics, SOAP notes, medical history, test results, and medications.
- Patient Estimation
Estimation software helps medical practices provide their patients with accurate estimates of their medical bills. The benefits of patient estimation software include enhanced price transparency, improved patient satisfaction, and steady cash flow.
- PRM (Patient Relationship Management) Also known as Healthcare Customer Relationship Systems or Patient Engagement Software, PRM enables practices to stay in touch with patients, e.g., through newsletters, marketing, gather patient feedback, and manage their online presence. PRM software helps practices digitize their customer service and consequently acquire and retain more patients.
4. Adopt New Payment Arrangements
Shifting from a fee-for-service to a more risk-based or quality-based payment arrangement is an inevitable change that most practices will encounter as they grow. However, team leaders should ensure everyone is aligned with their organizational vision and goals before shifting to a new payment arrangement. Partner physicians having conflicting visions for the practice’s future can be a huge red flag for the business’ survival.
5. Plan for Uncertainties
Like many other industries, change is inevitable in healthcare. Besides making efforts to manage the practice more effectively, providers should plan for uncertainties. A sound business strategy calls for risk mitigation wherever possible. For instance, practices can open their lines of credit, whether it seems necessary or not. Unanticipated issues may arise during the transition to ICD-11, making a cash cushion essential for staying afloat.