Cost Saving Strategies for Medical Practices
With expenses rising faster than revenues, how can a medical practice limit spending while still providing the same quality of care to clients? By changing and implementing a few little strategies that end up saving a lot.
In a medical practice, time is of the essence. Efficiency is key. In order to reach maximum efficiency, it may be time to break the routine and evaluate the workflow, says Natalie Bertsch, co-owner of DT-Trak. Bertsch, along with fellow co-owner Jewel Kopfmann,have been working with medical practices to simplify the key elements of front and back office operations.
A way to ensure maximum productivity is finding out where time is spent. Make a list of all tasks completed throughout the day and note the time spent on each. The next step is to evaluate the workflow and review the importance of each task. Then, divide these tasks into three columns: Do, Delegate, and Delete. Items in the “Do” category are things only you can undertake. As appropriate, delegate tasks to an employee to allow you to focus on the items that only you can accomplish. Finally, stop doing the tasks that do not provide any value to the practice.
Everyday expenses are another area to evaluate for savings opportunities. It is often believed that a less expensive item saves money. However, in the long run that is not always the case. In order to maximize profitability, it is important to reinvest in the practice. This does not only include the cost of equipment or tools. It is equally important to invest in staffing choices and training.
First, hiring right and taking quick action to solve a hiring mistake is critical. The team must work together in order to be effective and team members must have the right skill sets for the job. Allowing open communication between staff and leadership will minimize challenges and increase satisfaction, especially when a team member has a concern or a solution to a workflow issue.
Once the right players are on the team, it is also important to continue to constantly reinvest in each staff person. Continuing education, professional development, or leadership seminars will not only bring in fresh ideas to improve profitability but may also reinvigorate the participant.
Through education, a practice is better able to maximize revenue, while at the same time, minimize audit exposure. As an example, DT-Trak offers a very cost effective training tool in DT-Tester, a prep tool for ICD-10. This tool provides training, testing and feedback for staff members to improve their compliance accuracy.
“Everyone is busy today and often times education and training are overlooked and that is unfortunate because in most situations they are profit enhancers” says Kopfmann. “DT-Tester is a convenient way for everyone to stay up to date with the needs of their practice while still getting their workload completed.”
But having the right staff and education can only go so far in helping a practice become more profitable. Overtime is often a major issue for practices, but this is something that can be solved two ways.
Better-trained staff will help save money by working more efficiently. However, not all staff members can or should provide every service, and recruiting and hiring another team member may not be cost effective. This is where outsourcing can be an attractive alternative. Outsourcing can be a variable expense that fluctuates with business conditions and provides the specific expertise required.
Bertsch and Kopfman also suggest utilizing interns. Not only do they want experience, but they can assist with appropriate tasks often handled by staff, freeing up valuable time to focus on more critical issues. Additionally, internships are an easy way to invest in the future of the medical industry.
Finally, go green! Utilizing technology is another way to reduce expenses and help save our environment. Technology makes a paperless office possible, saving time and money on filing, copying, and reducing office supplies. Tablets are mobile, easy to use, and can improve the patient’s experience by having information readily available.
“It’s always easiest to suggest ways of changing, but often hard to actually put these changes into practice,” says Bertsch. “However, sometimes we must spend money before we can make money and invest time before we can save time.”
Top 5 Tips to an Efficient Practice:
1. Break the routine to learn better ways of doing things.
2. Work smarter by investing in people and education.
3. Outsource tasks that can be done more efficiently by others.
4. Invest in the future by utilizing interns.
5. Go green – be digital as often as possible.