Finish Strong: Make 2012 the Most Profitable Year for Your Medical Practice, Part II

Kathy McCoy, MBA September 28th, 2012

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Karen Zupko advises how to end the year strong for your medical practice

If you saw our first post on Karen Zupko’s webinar, Finish Strong: Make 2012 Your Most Profitable Year, you know that the first step toward maximizing profitability is getting a handle on the metrics that measure the success of your medical practice. And who should know better than Karen, one of the leading practice management experts in the country?

Karen’s webinar offered many strategies to address any metrics that may be performing less than optimally. To view the big picture, Karen suggested that you run your dashboard with a section that breaks out payments by insurance companies and monies collected from patients. Because so many patients now have high-deductible insurance plans–the average out-of-pocket expense for those with insurance is now $2,270–collections from patients are making up a bigger portion of your revenue pie.

In order to maximize collections from both patients and insurance companies, it is essential to check eligibility, benefits, current deductible amounts and co-pays prior to a patient’s appointment. Know what patients owe and tell them during reminder calls that payment of an outstanding balance or deductibles will be due when they check in for their appointment. Karen also recommends that you set up a process for handling recurring payments from patients that have large balances or are scheduled for surgeries or procedures. The ideal scenario is having a credit card on file. In addition, practices should be able to accept payments online. The majority of patients under 30 don’t even have checkbooks, so offices that can’t take payments electronically are behind the times and likely losing revenue.

There are other electronic tools that will help practices maximize revenue. Karen says claim estimators can be invaluable for calculating the exact amounts that patients are responsible for, according to their insurance plans. Some clearinghouses offer this capability. One website, www.availity.com, enables offices to access information from several different health plans, including Cigna and Blue Shield. Using them if you have contracts with these plans can save you time and effort.

Another way to maximize revenue is by reducing the number of “no-show” appointments. Karen stresses that patients who don’t show up for their appointments cost your bottom line dearly. That is lost revenue you can never backfill. She suggests that practices use every contact method they can—email reminders, phones calls, text messages—to encourage patients to show up for their appointments. And don’t automatically delete patients that don’t show up. Run a report to see if there are trends, such as patients on Friday afternoons or Mondays, on when no-shows occur most. If it is an ongoing problem, you may feel justified in booking slightly more appointments than you can handle during those times.

By identifying troublesome trends in your practice metrics, you can take steps now to turn 2012 into a banner year for your practice.

To see archived recordings of this and our other webinars, visit our Resource Center

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