Maximizing Your Practice Revenue and Profit in the Home Stretch (Part 2 of 2)

Laurie Morgan August 16th, 2012

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Make the most of your practice revenue through the end of 2012 with these useful tips

The homestretch of 2012 is in sight – for many practices, the end of the year is peak revenue generation time.  In part 1 of this series, we took a look at some ways to be sure your systems and billing infrastructure are ready to maximize practice revenue from the uptick; now we’ll take a look at how to get the most volume from this peak season.

Remind patients about their deductibles.

Many patients will delay services because of high deductibles.  Now is the time of year to remind them that they may be able to receive these services at lower cost if they’ve already fulfilled some or all of their out-of-pocket requirements.

Leverage your technology to help you with reminders: put a reminder at the bottom of patient statements, and use your EMR to track patients who need to be reminded to take a test or have a procedure.  (By using your EMR for patient reminders, you may also fulfill a Meaningful Use requirement – a step towards another significant chunk of revenue for your practice.)

Create personalized programs and group programs.

With today’s increasing emphasis on preventive care, many patients could benefit from personalized counseling for issues like cardiac health, diabetes, osteoporosis, smoking cessation, etc. Be sure your providers and staff are tracking this data in your EMR, so that you can easily identify the population that can benefit.  Use your EMR to send them patient-specific information and you’ll begin satisfying another Meaningful Use criterion –and, you can encourage a preventive care counseling visit at the same time.

Group visits work well for conditions that require significant patient education – for example, diabetes, asthma and cardiac problems – and they’re reimbursed by many payers.  Developing a group visit program can allow your physicians to see more patients and increase their satisfaction, since many patients value the opportunity to share with others facing similar challenges.

Give your referral partners attention.

Be sure you’re thanking your most important referrers throughout the year, and not just at the holidays – thank them now and you’ll stand out from the crowd.

Consider extending your relationships, too.  For example, the ACA may be opening new opportunities for pediatricians, OB/GYNs and primary care physicians to work together, since young adults are more likely to have coverage (but they’ll need to move from their pediatrician to an adult medicine PCP), more OB/GYN services are offered without patient responsibility payments (birth control, for example – a key concern for young adult women), and more women will be well-covered for maternity and newborn care.  Capitalize on the increasing revenue potential of extending these relationships in more than one direction.

Vaccines can open the door.

Fall and winter are vaccine time.  Besides flu and school immunizations, newer vaccines for pneumonia and shingles have become important preventive measures for older patients.

Vaccines themselves are not always profitable – in fact, rarely so – but they do open the door to providing other needed services.  For example, the pneumonia vaccine is routinely given to healthy patients over 65, but also to younger patients with chronic health issues like diabetes or a history of cardiovascular problems.  An alert to the patient about the vaccine could be combined with a screening for, say, osteoporosis for an older patient, or a follow-up visit for a younger patient with ongoing health concerns. 

Spiff up your web presence.

Now is the time to get your website in order – if you’ve scheduled flu shot clinics or patient education opportunities, start promoting them on your website.

Google your practice and make sure your address and phone are listed properly wherever they appear.  Claim your listings on medical directories like Avvo, Healthgrades and Vitals – you’ll be able to customize them with detailed information about your practice, plus get the SEO benefit of a link back to your own site.  Be sure also to claim your Google Places record and flesh it out.

If you haven’t done so already, sign up with an email service provider and create a custom template.  Develop newsletter content to include alongside your reminders – for example, information on cold and flu prevention, vaccines, exercising in the winter time, etc.  (These tidbits make great additions to your phone tree, too!)

Charge appropriately for add-on services. 

Patients often need paperwork in the fall – especially pediatric patients, who need health forms for their schools and sports activities.  Be sure you’re charging a fair rate for these services – which can be quite time-consuming.  And make sure your fee information is clearly available to patients, to avoid misunderstandings.

Laurie Morgan is a management consultant with Capko & Company. She specializes in marketing, management and technology for medical practices and blogs about practice management issues at www.capko.com/blog. Laurie has a BA in Economics from Brown University and an MBA from Stanford. Laurie recently wrote for Getting Paid on ACA Is Upheld: Will Medicaid Be Your Next Payer?, Staying on Top of Business Trends to Protect and Build Your Medical Practice, and My Receivables Are Growing: Time for a New Billing Service? Read part 1 of this series now.

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