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Don’t take your eye off the ball - everyday practice must do’s

January 2014
BY REED TINSLEY, CPA, CVA, CFP, CHBC

Of course we are all looking for those innovative and new strategies that will change the course of our medical practice; but the truth is, success in practices is found in doing the everyday tasks efficiently and enthusiastically.

You need to pay attention to the details of your practice, both big and little things such as:

• Paying attention to the lighting in the waiting room, the comfort of chairs there, and other important aesthetics that are important to your patients;

• The friendliness of your receptionist who is also accurate and efficient;

• Getting patient demographic and insurance information correct the first time

• Keeping on schedule (and letting waiting patients know when you are not on schedule);

• Creating a workflow and processes that are not only convenient but also efficient;

• Answering patients questions thoroughly, completely, and timely;

• Listening to patients and understanding what they are really asking about;

• Answering the phones quickly;

• Showing your patients that you really care about them and their health;

• Getting patient billing accurate every time; and

• Having knowledge of overall patient and/ or referring physician satisfaction with your practice.

These are just a few of the items you need to be paying attention to – However there are so many other things that are facing physician practices right now: EHR implementation, ICD 10 implementation, dealing with healthcare reform and the insurance exchanges that will provide insurance to a growing number of patients, and the continued attack on payment reimbursement. Attempting to address these issues and making long term decisions about the practice may be a distraction from your everyday practice responsibilities. Don’t let it! This is the time to keep focused.

Many practices now have practice websites that can be an invaluable tool to inform patients, answer questions, provide wellness tips and even provide email capabilities for patients to schedule appointments or ask questions. This tool can increase efficiency, keep phone use down, and give patients real and valuable information, but they must be maintained. You website must be updated, emails returned, and new content added constantly to keep patients’ attention and getting them to come back to use the website. You know how important it is to have a first class website to meet the needs of today’s patient demographics.

You may be in the middle of implementation of an EHR. This can be a huge challenge for an practice but it must be accomplished while keeping on schedule (or reducing daily patient load if needed) and recognizing the patients still have the same needs today as they did prior to implementation. Remember it’s all about the patient!! Communicating with patients about the challenges of implementation in a positive and friendly way will allow patients to not only know what’s going on but also work with the practice to understand what it means to them.

Finally, remember you cannot overcommunicate with your patients - Let them know what all the healthcare changes and laws mean to them and to your practice. Give them an opportunity to make suggestions and participate in their healthcare - This will drive clinical compliance and begin to lay the foundations needed to shift from payment for service to payment for outcome (should it take hold in a big way). As you know, outcome is largely dependent upon patient compliance with what you are recommending, so having an ongoing and positive dialogue with your patients will begin to get your medical practice on the right track.