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    How to survive in independent practice

    Finding strength in numbers and developing business savvy can help physicians retain their autonomy

     

    Look for high-impact savings

    “The two biggest expense items practices desperately need to get right are occupancy costs—rent or ownership of their building—and their personnel costs,” says White. “If they get those two things right, everything else has a lower impact.”

    Many physicians tend to be do-it yourselfers on fronts like negotiating commercial leases, but winging it can cost you money, says John Shufeldt, MD, JD, an emergency room physician and founder of medical businesses including Urgent Care Integrated Network in Scottsdale, Arizona, a national single-specialty network of independent urgent care centers that negotiate as a group with vendors and providers of ancillary services. Working with a consultant or getting informal advice from professional contacts  can pay off, he says.

    “The more advice you get from professionals who know about it, the better,” he says.

    If you run a large practice, White also suggests looking for ways to thin your management ranks and reduce layers in the organization to make sure every staffer is fully productive.

    “It’s similar to what the IBMs, GMs and Dells have done over the years,” he says.

    Revamp billing practices

    “Most practices fail to bill for about 12% of the work they do,” says White. Making sure that someone in the practice has clear accountability for checking that all services get billed can help plug that leak, he says.

    Improving internal billing practices is generally better than outsourcing billing altogether, he adds.

    “There are some fundamental flaws in how a billing service can work,” he says. “If a billing service is going to get 5% of what is collected, how much effort is it going to put into chasing my $100?”

    Ensure collections from patients

    Many practices already check on referrals and insurance authorizations before providing services and ask patients for co-pays at the time of check-in. If your practice does not, it’s time to use this easy way of maximizing revenue.

    “It changes the culture of `You don’t have to pay here,’ that a lot of practices suffer from,” says White.

    Sometimes, doing this requires a change of mindset. Searfoss advised one physician who was reluctant to have his staff collect co-pays from patients upon check-in. He told her, “I don’t want my patients to be back talking with me about money.”

    Searfoss helped him set up a system where his staff collects payments on checkout. His wife, the practice administrator, keeps an eye on foot traffic in the office, so patients don’t leave through a side door before paying—which was happening often. “She is the sentinel who stands by the door and makes sure they go back to checkout,” says Searfoss.

    Because of his wife’s personal warmth, her presence added a “high-touch,” feel to the practice. “Everybody loves his wife,” says Searfoss. “Now great conversations happen in the hallway about kids and family.”

    Next: Re-examine fee schedules

    6 Comments

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    • Tammy Mocal
      Well Elaine Pofeldt! I am very happy to read about this article "How to survive in independent practice". It is correct statement because I have red plus seen numerous essay site archvie but your contetn consist an attrection for the reader because of that anyone who look at this post recommend for reading once.
    • NimmiD
      This is common problem with all intern practitioner. Need some solution for this. I am looking something good out of this. dental implants india
    • EthanBryan
      It is very difficult to survive in the independent practice because of many reasons. There will not a proper guidance for the doctors and the people who are doing practice didn't learn properly.valet parking luton
    • THEODOREGWILLIAMS
      The place to start is the most critical area for a practice — its financial condition and operations. The best way to do this is with good benchmarking data. These data can be secured through many sources, including healthcare associations such as the Medical Group Management Association, suppliers, and networking. By comparing a practice's performance relative to benchmarking data, key areas of weakness can be identified for action. Benchmarking data should reflect the size, geography, specialty, and operating model of a practice, although some metrics can be viewed more universally. contact me for further information: http://www.medpmr.com/

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