For many medical practices, office expenses are on the rise, regulatory demands have increased, and reimbursement from insurance companies may be declining. When your overhead continues to rise but your revenue per patient is staying flat, you may be tempted to see even more patients or perform more procedures. Unfortunately, this usually doesn’t work. You end working hard and faster, something that increasingly leads to dermatologist burnout. Instead of working harder, the key is to work smarter and increase efficiency. If your practice revenue has flatlined, the following four medical practice management strategies can help you reduce expenses and increase your revenue.
1. Take Measures to Reduce Patient Wait Times
Long patient wait times leave patients frustrated, increase the chance they’ll go to another dermatologist and are a sign of inefficiency within your practice. Around 40% of patients report getting frustrated with their wait time, which means they’re unhappy before their appointment ever begins. Failing to address your patients’ frustration with long wait times could lead to a huge loss in patients, not to mention, potential new patients may avoid your practice if they learn about long wait times by reading reviews.
Before you wave off long wait times as inconsequential, here are a few of the most common consequences of having long wait times:
- Changing doctors
- Leaving the office without seeing the doctor
- Leaving a poor rating for the practice or doctor on surveys
- Telling family members or friends not to visit your practice
- Leaving critical reviews of your practice on online review sites
What can you do to reduce those wait times to avoid revenue from current and potential patients? Here are a few tips that can help:
- Collect and document a patient’s information before the appointment time (patient portals make this easier)
- Avoid overbooking patients to deal with the effects of missed appointments. This actually increases patient wait times and can have a negative impact on overall patient satisfaction.
- Consider a clinical assistant to manage test orders, manage prescriptions, and take notes during doctor/patient visits to save time.
- Determine whether you’ll need to spend more time with certain patients (once again patient info before the appointment can help)
- Have a policy for late arrivals, since late arrivals can affect patient wait times for your other patients.
- Offer a comfortable, pleasant waiting room for patients.
2. Reduce No-Shows with Computerized Calling Systems
No-shows, especially for time-consuming or expensive procedures, cost your practice big time. And simply overbooking to account for potential no-shows is a bad solution. One of the most efficient ways to deal with the no-show problem is to use a computerized calling system that takes care of appointment reminders for you. This keeps your employees from getting bogged down with those appointment reminder phone calls.
Computerized systems allow you to set up reminder phone calls, emails, and texts to patients. Then, you can also have office staff make personal phone calls to patients who have expensive or time-consuming procedures coming up. Additional tips that can help reduce no-shows include optimizing your scheduling, remembering to thank patients who do attend their appointments (gratitude works), and having a no-show policy in place for your medical practice.
3. Maximize Your New Patient Visits
In many cases, a new patient visit will reimburse more than an established patient visit, which means you need to maximize these visits. New patients should be seen by the medical doctor instead of a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. New patient codes have higher relative value units (RVUs) than established patient codes at the same level, so failing to distinguish your new patients can result in you shortchanging your practice. Make sure that coders are coding these visits accurately so you get the highest reimbursement possible.
4. Optimize Your Medical Billing to Increase Reimbursement
One of the best strategies that can help you maximize your practice’s income is to optimize your medical billing processes, so you increase reimbursement for every patient. Many medical practices bill at allowable lower levels to try to avoid being audited. While you might not get audited, this practice leaves a lot of money on the table. When you provide a service, make sure it’s documented correctly and then bill at the appropriate level. You’ll also want to make sure that billing and coding staff aren’t making mistakes that lead to costly claims denials.
If coding errors, claims denials, and other billing and coding issues are keeping your practice from maximizing income, it may be time to consider outsourcing. For many medical practices outsourcing cuts costs and boosts revenue, resulting in the practice growth you need to succeed. M-Scribe specializes in medical billing and coding and can work with your practice to reduce errors, lower denial rates, and streamline your revenue cycle. Contact M-Scribe today to learn more about how we can work with you to reduce expenses and maximize your practice income.