With EHR technology being implemented, Health Reform just around the corner, and Meaningful Use criteria mandated, what else can there be? How about many more coding and billing auditing agencies to “second guess” what you are doing. The new requirements in medical compliance programs and policies? And of course the ever present need for cost effective, practice management/operational efficiency to ensure cash flow and profitability! Many physician practices are at a highly critical point in their existence. The near term strategic decisions will likely impact cash flow, satisfaction of providers and patients, and general success of operations of your medical practice.
Five things that can make or break your physician practice …
To meet many of these challenges that you may now be facing, and to meet them with confidence, consider weaving the following items into the fabric of your business:
- Hire, orient and train good people – the basis of every successful medical practice or other business venture starts with a foundation of good personnel that are experienced, knowledgeable and willing to advance the principles and goals of the organization. However, good personnel that lack well-defined and well-designed duties and responsibilities cannot and will not be the strong asset to the organization that they should be.
- Get into the details of the operation – the old adage “the devil is in the details” is old because it has held true for so long. It is not enough to have good intentions without systems that support the practice. Without the existence of good operational systems, the practice becomes far too dependent on particular personnel, and when these individuals go on vacation, become sick, or leave entirely, practice paralysis sets in. A successful practice rises above the dependency on any one individual, and focuses in on the existence of smoothly running systems.
- Follow up, follow up, follow up! – whereas the key to success in real estate is “location, location, location”, “follow up” is the success sibling in practice management. No system, no policy, no procedure is effective without a real and concentrated commitment to follow up. Regardless of the quality of any system, it becomes ineffective if there is no monitoring of that system. The lack of follow up invites ineffectiveness, inefficiency and worse, unlawful or unethical behavior. The key decision makers of any organization must be involved with its operations in order to ensure its continued success. You don’t have time? Delegation is possible if you’ve got the right people supporting you, but do learn to review detailed financial and operational reports, regularly … and make sure you know the key indicators to look for.
- Get a comprehensive operational efficiency and effectiveness analysis done – make sure you receive operational and strategic insights, benchmark/best practices information that’s practical and relevant. Engage the type of healthcare consultants who are experienced in medical group practice operations assessment and analysis.
- Do your due diligence – If you are considering selection and implementation of an EHR system, include a review of the published Meaningful Use Matrix, and insist on your EHR vendor’s compliance, cooperation and commitment to have the EHR system modified, if needed, to address these issues.
Policies, procedures, and EHR systems will assist, but individually do NOT make a medical group efficient. However, when collectively put in place with a well thought out plan they can make all the difference in the world. With the advancing cry for cost-containment in healthcare, coupled with the already discussed “new” developments, and the ongoing Medicare compensation challenges, such as the planned decrease in compensation scheduled for December of this year, it is absolutely crucial that practices have a sound and solid handle on their operations.