Help Your Bottom Line: Don’t Lose Sight of Revenue
Secure and consistent revenue is integral to any successful medical practice’s bottom line. Sometimes physicians lose track of what’s actually going on in their business operations. When you aren’t paying attention to the financials, your profitability may tank regardless of how well you address patient needs and concerns.
Best practice for your practice
There are several ways you can stay on top of your business processes. For starters, you can meet regularly with your staff to review reports, have financial benchmarks and determine what’s normal in other practices.
In addition, compare what’s happening this year to what happened last year. Audit patient charts regularly and look at 10 charts a month (per provider) to ensure they’re entered appropriately. You also may want to hire a professional billing service to occasionally spend a day auditing your charts and receivables.
Even when you engage in the best possible business practices, losses might still occur. Here are some ways to stop revenue leakage:
Get your money at the time of service. If a patient owes a co-pay, ask for it. Collect as much up front as is feasible. Create processes and procedures that make it easy to collect fees owed, such as accepting cash, checks and credit cards. You can and should make exceptions, but the bottom line is that a medical practice is a business. Make every effort to ensure no one leaves the office without paying what’s owed — whether it’s a bill or a co-pay.
Educate patients on estimated expenses. When discussing an expensive and complicated procedure, such as a surgery, develop a financial agreement ahead of time so you can educate the patient on the procedure’s cost. Put it in writing and make sure the patient agrees to it by signing it. Both the practice and the patient should receive a copy.
Audit your computer systems. Computer systems are remarkably reliable, but they’re not necessarily 100% accurate. It’s imperative that you understand what your computer system is actually doing. Sometimes, practice management software features can cause inadvertent problems. For example, one type of software required someone to hit “print claim” after a transaction was saved. The claim was then sent electronically. But if staff failed to hit the “print claim” button, the claim wasn’t sent. Instead, it showed up as an outstanding balance, even though the insurance company had never received it. Clearly, staff needs to be trained in the correct use of your practice management software. Many software companies offer free webinars.
Offer more services. Offer medically appropriate services that could bring in additional revenue. If a patient comes in with a specific ailment, this is a potential opportunity to offer a more thorough checkup, resulting in more targeted services and care. In addition to creating better results and more comprehensive care for the patient, it will generate more revenue.
Badger the insurers. As most physicians know, filing an insurance claim and getting exactly what you expect to receive is rare. Update your insurer contracts on a regular basis. Review your price lists and send them to insurance companies. From time to time, insurance carriers change their reimbursements, and — even more rarely — increase their reimbursements. Appeal claims and get to know your state Medicare liaison. Join your state’s specialty medical association to pool resources when dealing with insurers.
Preventing the worst
By engaging in good business practices, you can also avoid serious issues such as employee fraud, unnecessary revenue leaks — or even patient attrition. Understanding the financial ins and outs will free you as a physician to focus on what you do best — providing the best possible care to your patients. Consult your financial expert for advice on how to ensure your practice stays financially healthy.
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