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10 things to Improve Your Practice

1. Screen applicants, Hire, and Train to find the best employees for the job. Your practice is only as good as the people it employs. Remember that your front desk is your first impression for your patients (customers!). Do your homework – call applicant references, require pre-screening math and grammar skills tests, verify qualifications and certifications listed on the employee application.

2. Once you think you have hired the best staff person(s) possible, then follow up employee performance with ongoing training and reviews. If the employee is in your medical billing department, review his/her claims coding and claims denials management skills – ask him/her to demonstrate the appeals process and decision process for variety of claims denials.

3. Examine your practice management and medical billing software and always stay on top of software updates – insurances and governmental agencies continuously change claims requirements and it’s up to you and your software vendor to stay current with industry standards.

4. Measure Measure Measure – this is important in both employee performance and financial ratios. If you don’t measure it, how do you know how well you’re performing? Measurable items include Days in A/R (DAR), Insurance aging over 60-90-120 days, Patient Collections, etc. Determine the ratios you want to track and measure them monthly, annually, and compare to historical values.

5. Examine your workflow for inadequacies or inefficiencies. What goes on from the moment the patient checks in to the time the claim is paid? Can this be streamlined in any way?

6. Examine your Administrative Operations – everything from Payroll to Bookkeeping to Accounts Payable. Are these systems seamless and efficient or are you always scrambling at month end or year end, or when it’s time to cover payroll expenses…

7. Challenge everything you think is right in your practice – don’t assume status quo is ok. Strive to always improve on the way you’re doing things. For example, is it efficient for your receptionist to leave her desk 1-2 hours a day to get the mail and make bank deposits because that’s the way it’s always been done….

8. Implement a disaster recovery backup plan in case of the unthinkable – flood, hurricane, fire – could your system be up and running in 24-48 hours after a disaster? How long can you afford not to be up and running in the case of a disaster?

9. Implement an exit or retirement strategy – or do you plan to work forever…? How long do you want to practice medicine and do you have a plan on how to exit your practice?

10. Assess your stress level. A highly stressed physician causes a highly stressed environment – employees feel it, patients feel it, and your peers feel it. Find ways to manage your stress to a comfortable level both personally or professionally – hire capable people that you can trust (like the folks at Patient Account Services!) who get the job done so that you can control your practice from an overview level without the need for micro-managing.

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