How to Maximize Your Practice’s Financial Health

Few medical practices operate at their fullest potential, so their financial health suffers. Most practices fail to do so simply because physicians and staff are overwhelmed by day-to-day tasks. But a more calculating approach to this challenge can make a difference.

Imagine your very best

Imagine your practice functioning at peak performance. Its work processes are systematic, streamlined and thorough. As a result, you see more patients while providing high-quality care.

No-shows have been reduced to a bare minimum. Claims spend less time in accounts receivable, and a higher percentage of total charges are paid. Thus, your practice generates more revenue with fewer hours of work.

Plus, patient copays and deductibles are collected at the time of service, and you’re receiving additional income from Pay-for- performance (P4P), Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI), and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) incentives. Altogether, you understand the practice better and have more control over its long-term success.

Step toward utopia

To reach this idealized state, reassess what you can do alone, what you could do better and what can be accomplished only with the help of a partner. That partner might be your CPA, a vendor or a physician practice management company. The point is to have necessary tasks performed by the person or organization that’s best qualified for the work.

Either alone or in collaboration with a partner, your practice can implement key finance-related initiatives, such as adopting measures to minimize billable time lost to patient no-shows. This includes matching appointment capacity to patient demand to reduce backlog and schedule “churn.”

You can also grow your patient panel through referrals and direct marketing. And scheduling appointment requests within a week can reduce the likelihood of no-shows.

Your practice must establish patient eligibility in advance to maximize time spent during an appointment. For instance, contact ineligible patients ahead of time so they can check with their insurers about eligibility. Facilitate a smooth flow of information between the front desk and the billing office to help minimize denials, maximize point of service collections and avoid registration errors. And cross-train staff to perform critical tasks during busy periods.

Master patient appointments

Inform patients before appointments of the payment amounts they owe and their payment options. Collect copays/deductibles (current and overdue) to avoid the cost, unreliability and delays associated with billing via mail. And, allow patients to make automatic monthly bill payments using their credit cards.

Bill appointments immediately and follow up to ensure claims are received by the payer and subsequently paid. And be sure to review and appeal denials and underpays quickly. Follow up on uncollected self-pay balances to determine whether patients understand their obligations. Then review overall billing and collection performance monthly.

Be nimble

In today’s high-intensity health care environment, your practice must operate at its fullest performance to meet its revenue potential. Be sure to continuously track, benchmark and improve overall performance while always looking for ways to re-engineer work processes to free up time for revenue-generating activities. Doing so can help your practice be more nimble and profitable.