Bringing your office into the 21st century creates a more professional environment, increases efficiency, and fosters a sense of patient confidence in the physician’s expertise. Tech-savvy practice managers know one of the biggest benefits is that it saves money. Here are five small and big steps toward having a more productive office:
Most physicians finishing their medical internship elect a specialty field to practice. For those that don’t choose a specialty, one choice remains: traditional internal medicine which entails opening or joining a medical practice versus becoming a hospitalist. A hospitalist is a doctor who spends most of his or her patient care time caring for hospitalized patients.
With the growing emphasis on patient safety and improved quality outcomes in healthcare as a part of national healthcare reform, the obvious question is: What is one of the most important policies that any executive can implement that will improve performance?
But, even before we get to the ideas that will improve healthcare quality, we need to determine if improvement of patient safety and quality of healthcare is indeed needed. If the reports are accurate that the third leading cause of death in America is due to hospital and physician treatments, and more specifically errors, then, yes, improvement of quality is needed. Another question that needs to be addressed is how we got into this state in the first place, but that will not be discussed in this article.
Healthcare organizations around the world are faced with the challenges of containing rising healthcare costs, improving access to care, and providing quality care to patients with very complex diseases and longer life spans (due to vast improvements in medical research and technology). The impetus to provide quality care has resulted in a demand for healthcare providers to increase RVUs, decrease emergency room visits for non-emergent care and increase patient satisfaction within the primary care setting. As a result, healthcare organizations and the federal government have turned to pay-for-performance incentives to reward providers for increasing efficiencies, improving access to care. And improving healthcare outcomes for patients with diabetes, hypertension and other life-threatening but manageable diseases.
“Outsourcing” is viewed in a very negative light by many Americans today. And if your medical practice is considering outsourcing one or more job positions or medical practice services, it’s true that outsourcing could keep you from hiring a local individual who desperately needs a job or could even result in layoffs of some of your current staff. But in the current economy, ignoring the cost benefits of outsourcing may not be an option. Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about outsourcing for your medical practice.
As a practice manager, you are probably aware of media coverage of the physician shortage in the US and the fact that the roles of nurse practitioners and physicians are expanding to meet that shortage. However, some physicians and even some patients are resistant to the change. Whether or not it has influenced your medical practice at this point, how will the expanding roles of nurse practitioners and physician assistants affect physicians?
One positive aspect of this change is that physicians can be freed up to perform more complex revenue-generating procedures because they are spending less time on basic evaluations and general patient care. This is especially positive because of the large number of uninsured individuals who are entering the nation’s patient pool and who will require care for minor illnesses and accidents. The expanding role of NPs and PAs will help keep pace with a growing base of patients who require general care.
In today’s health care environment, it can be tempting to accept an offer to become part of a vertically integrated organization, primarily due to the financial support that comes with such a move. However, there are some important considerations to take into account before doing so in order to ensure that your practice doesn’t get lost in the parent company.
One factor to consider is the size of your medical practice relative to the size of the potential parent organization. The larger in proportion the company you’re considering joining is relative to the size of your existing practice, the greater the chance of your small office becoming lost. Since smaller practices typically provide less income for the overarching organization compared to larger integrated groups, your practice’s negotiating power may be severely restricted if you join a much larger company. Research the other practices in the corporation as well as its overall size before proceeding with negotiations so you’ll know how your practice will fit into the existing structure if a sale takes place.
If you define your medical practice by specialty, as most practice managers do, you may think that patients see your physician(s), and thus your practice overall, as an “expert” in that specialty. Certainly some patients, such as those who have received care at your practice for many years, do see it as an expert resource on their medical conditions. But because patients today are generally more informed and think much more critically than in the past due to the extensive coverage relating to various medical conditions and procedures on the internet, in magazines, and on television shows, you need to actually brand your practice as an expert on the diagnoses and procedures on which you’d like to attract new patients. Your medical practice’s expert status will drive patient traffic and revenue, so promotional branding is a necessity in today’s healthcare environment.
If you’re a practice manager who’s concerned about dwindling patient revenues, you’ve probably already considered adding products and services to your medical practice. But many practice managers stop there because they don’t know how to decide which products and services are appropriate for their practices. There are myriad options for expanding your practice offerings, and sifting through them can become an overwhelming chore. Here are some criteria to consider when adding products and services to your practice.
Environmental concerns are on many people’s minds today. Individuals and businesses alike are looking for ways to be “Greener” and to stretch energy dollars. The medical office is no exception, and there are many ways that the Practice Manager can lead the effort in making a doctor’s office more environmentally friendly.