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Keys to the Financial Wellness of Your Healthcare Practice

Posted by Erick Cutler, CPA on Feb 1, 2018 11:44:38 AM

The financial wellness and management of a healthcare practice take the same attention and care as any business. But like many good physicians, they focus on their patients at the expense of paying attention to the business end of running a practice.

Providing excellent care and running a successful practiced aren't mutually exclusive goals. Use these simple, but powerful techniques to streamline your business' operations and maximize its revenue flow so you can continue to provide quality healthcare services for a very long time.

Hiring Associate Physicians, PAs or NPs

Physicians are the star players of any practice. (It's a rare patient who seeks out an NP when ill.) But relying solely on physicians stretches the practice's human resources to their limits, creating delays in patient care and doctor burn-out.

Having in place associate physicians, PAs and NPs can play a vital role in the financial success of your practice. PAs and NPs can take lighten your patient load, allowing you to get more patients in the door without you actually having to be in the examination room with them. Hiring even one or two of these professionals is an excellent way to boost your practice's profitability and improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.

Managing Your Revenue Cycle

Many practices provide quality care to patients but aren't great at billing and AR. But these are the lifeblood of a business, and if the revenue cycle isn't under control, the business is far more likely to fold.

First, make it as easy to pay you as possible. Does your practice take personal checks? Can patients pay by credit cards and pay online? What insurance do you accept? Does your website or app allow patients to create payment plans on their own?

From there, think about how to improve patient follow-through. For instance, your practice should have different procedures in place for balances that are 90, 120 and 120-plus days overdue. You may want to remind patients to pay overdue balances, when they make an appointment or when you make an appointment reminder call. If you're repeatedly seeing an insurance company deny payment for a particular patient or procedure, immediately investigate why this is occurring.

Setting Benchmarks

It's not enough to do well on your own. Like any business, healthcare is competitive. To maximize your practice's potential, you need to periodically benchmark your practice's performance in relation to comparable businesses.

Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) periodically publishes data about healthcare practices, including staffing, overhead, wages, patient flow, and revenue. These data are invaluable for seeing how your practice measures up against others. Thanks to the data's organization, you can compare yourself to other practices locally, regionally or nationally.

Of course, numbers aren't everything: especially if you're small or just getting started, some of your statistics may be better or worse than your competitors'. But comparing your practice against real-world measurements will give you a better sense of where you stand, and where you have room for improvement.

Investing in Staff

Your practice should have just the right number of staff: not too few (or productivity and morale will suffer) and not too many (or you'll spend too much money on salaries and benefits). Just keep in mind that even the best staff needs to be managed properly. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to manage staff, hire a practice manager. In the long run, it won't just save you money, should increase the quality of your patient experience overall.

Investing in staff always makes sense. Train your employees thoroughly, to make sure they're up to date on the latest technology, regulations, and office procedures. Soft-skills training also goes a long way in adding to patient satisfaction.  Keep a close eye on their job satisfaction and do what you can to keep them happy; this will positively affect productivity and employee retention. Invest in technology that will make your employees' jobs easier and more efficient. All of these will greatly improve the productivity and happiness of your practice, as well as its financial standing over time.

Safeguarding Against Fraud and Embezzlement

Embezzlement is rampant in medical practices. It is dangerous to any practice and not just because of the lost money involved. Fraud and embezzlement can open you up to a legal nightmare as you try to address the problem and try to regain what your practice has lost.  After all, if your practice hasn't noticed these problems until now, what else haven't you noticed? Are your staff really trustworthy?

Ironically, the most common environment for embezzlement is a successful, busy practice: it's far less likely that anyone will notice someone quietly skimming funds. Statistics say one out of every three practices will experience fraud sometime during their existence, whether they know it or not.

The most common type of embezzlement that most practices suffer is the misappropriation of patient money. If someone has the motive (say, if they're going through financial or personal problems) and the opportunity (they're handling patient money with little oversight), they may make an attempt to embezzle.

Because you can't control employees' personal lives, you need to reduce their opportunities to embezzle. Review your internal processes with an eye toward where someone could commit fraud. Perform background and reference checks on everyone who'll be handling money. Make sure books are reviewed regularly and thoroughly and have at least two employees handling financial records. Be aware of other avenues for fraud, such as false vendors and inaccurate timesheets. And if you suspect fraud, contact your attorney immediately.

Healthcare is a business like any other. Practices need sound financial practices in order to survive. By hiring on associate physicians, investing in staff, comparing your benchmarks against your competitors', reducing the risk of fraud and managing your revenue cycle, you'll be in the black for a long time to come and ensure the financial wellness of your practice.

For additional financial help with managing your medical practice's accounting and other financial needs, contact the experienced accountants at Goldin Peiser & Peiser in Dallas, TX.

Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article. 

Topics: Medical