Should You Hire a Nurse Practitioner?

Lea Chatham December 5th, 2014

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Tweet this Kareo storyIn the recent webinar, Planning for 2015: Make It a Best Practice Year, an attendee asked about  hiring a Nurse Practitioner (NP). Whether or not to add new providers, especially NPs, is a hot topic right now for many practices. And, in a lot of different circumstances it is a great option.

However, practice managers and physicians worry about how patients will perceive seeing a NP instead of a physician. NPs can be a great addition to your practice,” says practice management consultant Judy Capko, who hosted the webinar. “It often depends on your demographics and competition or specialty. If you have retail clinics staffed by mid-level providers in your area, it may not be unusual to people at all and could allow you to offer the same type of last minute, same day, and walk in appointments as those clinics. Many people are open to seeing a midlevel to get faster access, especially for urgent needs. In some specialties like orthopedics and surgery where patients can have many pre-op or post-op visits, offering services from NPs or PAs can also improve and speed access to care. Whatever the situation, one way to help ensure patients are comfortable is to always appear as a united team of providers dedicated to your patients’ wellbeing.”

Building a practice with a mix of providers is a growing a trend as practices look to stay competitive with retail clinics. Tweet this Kareo story
Recent studies suggest that by next year there may be as many as 3,000 retail clinics nationwide. Independent practices will need to find ways to offer more flexible access to care. That could be with extended hours, same day, and walk-in appointments, or by offering specialty services.

Adding a NP can also help patients who are paying more of their own healthcare expenses. While many preventive care visits are now fully covered, patients have to pay more for urgent needs like flu or a sprain. With high deductible plans and HSAs, the whole burden of that cost could fall on the patient now. Often the charge for seeing a NP is less than it is for seeing a physician. Practices that offer a NP as an affordable option that is also quickly accessible are actually meeting patients needs more effectively.

Just remember that you need to present this new option to patients as a benefit to them. As with all new services, be sure to create a marketing plan and communicate with patients consistently and regularly through your newsletter, website, and/or social media channels. Focus on your dedication to meeting patient needs. Help them get to know your new provider. With changing patient expectations today, focusing on your relationship with the patient and your dedication to meeting their needs will only benefit your practice in the long run.

For more great tips on planning for 2015 and staying competitive in changing times, watch Judy’s webinar.

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Asking for Patient Payments: 3 Ways to Ease the Pain

Lea Chatham December 2nd, 2014

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Kareo patient collections videoBy Cheryl Bisera

The shift toward high deductible plans isn’t going away. Tweet this Kareo story
Preliminary survey findings show that 73% of large employers plan to introduce a high deductible plan to employees within the next three years and 20% of those employers say it will be the only choice offered.[1] It’s more important than ever that your staff is empowered and effective at collecting point of service patient payments. But asking patients for larger amounts of money is not easy for some of your staff who have traditionally only had to ask for small co-pays or nothing at all.

Here are three things you can do to help ease the pain while succeeding at point of service collections:

  1. Explain to staff that patients benefit. Yes, stepping up your point of service collection efforts will protect your profitability, but direct communication with patients about their financial responsibilities is better for them too! By taking the initiative to prepare patients for their medical expenses your practice becomes a stronger partner, advocate, and resource to patients by reducing patient shock and frustration over unexpected expenses and shedding light on unfamiliar lingo. Your practice is expressing that you’re on patients’ side when you accept an array of payment methods and offer payment plans for larger balances, thus helping patients to afford the healthcare they need. When staff can grasp that the practice is helping patients receive and pay for the care they need, they can stop feeling bad and be more matter-of-fact about asking for payment.
  2. Show staff the numbers behind the methods.  Nowadays, patient portion accounts for as much as 30% of practice revenue. Tweet this Kareo story
    You can’t afford to leave that money on the table by risking that patients pay late, pay only partially, or worse, not pay at all. But saying just that isn’t enough; your staff need to know the real numbers for your individual practice and participate in setting specific improvement goals. Sharing the hard numbers with your staff can make all the difference because it helps them see how their job directly contributes to the success of the practice. And you’re sure to see more enthusiasm when they are a part of the process with goal setting!
  3. Back your staff up with patient-friendly tools and communication. You’re asking your staff to change how they communicate with patients and put themselves ‘out there’ by initiating financial conversations. That might feel like an uncomfortable stretch for them. Scripts, workshops, webinars, role-playing, and shadowing are all great ways to equip staff to keep it positive and matter-of-fact. Another way to support their efforts is by having a patient financial policy that is communicated clearly to patients. By giving your staff the tools and training they need to keep positive options for patients at their fingertips–like credit card on file, a payment plan, or third party health credit services–they are empowered to take an advocacy tone with patients and be more successful with their collection efforts.

About the Author
Cheryl Bisera photoCheryl Bisera is a consultant, author and speaker with extensive experience in marketing and business promotion that spans more than ten years in which she worked with professionals to strengthen their position in the marketplace. She is the founder of Cheryl Bisera Consulting, a California-based image development and marketing company that focuses on the healthcare industry and author of the book, The Patient-Centered Payoff. Cheryl has spoken for regional medical management organizations, conducted customer-service workshops, and written numerous articles for publications such as KevinMD, Physician Magazine, and the Journal of Medical Practice Management.


[1] “Survey predicts health benefit cost increases will edge up in 2015” Mercer Newsroom,

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