Your Goal for 2016: Stronger Practice Operations

Take a look back over the last 12 months. Was staff turnover high?  Did your overhead increase? Was cash flow down?

Whatever your situation, resolve now to make 2016 better. Start the new year right by taking a comprehensive look at all aspects of your practice operations. TMA consultants have helped many practices by performing a complete operations assessment. Typical areas they identify for improvement are staffing, overhead, work flow, and collections. Consider this:

  • The biggest expense category in most medical practices is nonphysician payroll and staffing. Are your staffing levels right for your office? An understaffed office can lose money through inefficiency; an overstaffed office may lack productivity. If you paid too much overtime in 2015, you may need to automate some systems or hire outside contractors. Or if frequent turnover was a problem, make sure your staff has the resources they need and a clear understanding of their roles and practice goals. Conducting annual employee reviews might be a good way to assess this.
  • Controlling overhead is a key component of healthy practice operations. Is your cost of overhead rising, or is it high compared with national norms? By examining individual cost categories for the previous 12 months, you may find ways to streamline your operations and purchasing procedures.
  • Inefficient workflow drains away valuable time and can leave everyone — physicians, staff, and patients — frustrated. It may be helpful to literally map out how a patient moves through the office, for example, to reveal where wasted steps or missed opportunities occur. TMA consultants say allowing employees to complete paperwork and other tasks as they come up, rather than saving them up to do later, and minimizing paperwork handoffs among staff members help keep work flowing.
  • Frequently denied or incorrectly paid claims often signal problems with your billing and collection processes, especially if you are still ironing out the transition to ICD-10. Unless your staff regularly monitor reasons for claim denials and incorrect payment, time it takes to get paid by each insurer, and other relevant data, you won’t know for certain whether you are collecting all the fees that are due, or which plans support the financial viability of your practice.

Now is also a good time to assess your financial recordkeeping. Does it give complete information about your practice for 2015? Do your financial statements enable you to compare them easily with both the budget and the prior year so you can spot trends as they unfold? If your records don’t give you a clear picture of your practice’s financial health, you might start 2016 by asking your office manager to provide more or better financial data throughout the year.

Challenge yourself in 2016 by setting measurable goals, such are reducing average patient wait time by a certain number of minutes, or increasing upfront collections or reducing billing errors by a specific percent.

You’ll find a host of tools and information on the TMA website to help you achieve your 2016 goals, including continuing medical education courses and publications in the TMA Education Center.

Or, if you need help, contact TMA Practice Consulting for more information about an Operations Assessment or Financial Oversight service at (800) 523-8776, or email practice.consulting[at]texmed[dot]org.

Published Dec. 15, 2015

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Last Updated On

June 23, 2016