Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other healthcare providers who are in practice today are concerned with the rising costs of providing healthcare, all while getting less and less in reimbursement. At the same time, they see the need for services is on the rise.
But to continue to provide those services, they have to bring more money into their practices. Because without positive cash flow, at some point, a practice becomes unsustainable.
Here are 10 things you can do today to make more money in your practice.
1. Collect more money upfront
Today, patient responsibility for out-of-pocket expenses (co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles) is higher than ever. We all feel that particular pinch. It’s well known that the best chance to collect money from patients is when they are in front of you. Make sure that you and your staff are comfortable and well versed in how to effectively and respectful request payment upfront. Also make sure you have clear-cut, easy to read policies for patients and staff.
2. Documentation and Coding
There is a persistent myth in healthcare practices that says if you code mostly 99213s, you will not be audited. That myth is wrong! What is correct is you are obligated to document the care you gave, showing medical necessity, medical decision making, and your assessment. You report this level of work via a CPT code. Under-coding or over-coding is unfair to you, your patients and will potentially lead to charges of fraud and fines.
If you don’t know how to document and what is involved with each level of service you provide, you’ll want to become familiar with the CMS Evaluation and Management Documentation Guidelines, which are considered the gold standard.
If your practice is doing insurance billing, you’ll want to make sure that you understand the billing process and follow up on any problems. There may be any number of reasons a claim will be rejected or denied. Some will be easy to correct and others, will require more work. Understand why claims get denied so you can be proactive with future claims.
4. Account Receivable
Account receivable (AR) is the amount of money that is owed to you for the work you have already done. It will include money you are expecting from third-party payers as well as money that is owed to you from patients. You’ll want to pay special attention to the various AR buckets and keep the numbers as low as possible. You cannot pay your bills on money owed to you, or on money not yet in your bank account.
5. See More Patients
We can’t collect money or bill for services if we don’t have enough patients coming through our door. Take a look at the ways you are attracting patients into your practice. It should be a multi-pronged approach utilizing both online and offline strategies. Here are some articles that may help you think about your marketing.
6. Reduce No Shows
This goes along with number 5. You may have patients making appointments, but if they’re not showing up, it won’t help your practice. You may want to think about appointment reminders in the form of phone calls, text messages, and emails. Additionally, consider your no-shows policy. At some point you may need to release patients from your practice if they chronically no-show.
7. Add another location without adding additional overhead
For example, you may want to see patients in their homes, in assisted living facilities or in long-term care. You can schedule these visits on days typically slow in your practice. When you do this, you don’t waste unproductive days in the office, but fill your schedule with income producing appointments.
8. Additional Services
Depending on the kind of practice you have, there may be complimentary services that will be a nice fit for your practice. The operative word here is complimentary.
Many practices add services that are cashed based such as cosmetic procedures, bio-identical hormones, and allergy testing. You’ll need to figure out the cost-benefit ratio to your practice to make sure it’s the right thing for you.
9. Research Projects
Traditionally when we think of research projects in our practice, we think of big projects that will take a lot of time, energy, and staff. However, Observational Research Studies are different. Typically, do not interfere with your workflow and documentation is minimal; you may even use an assistant for much of the documentation. Also, they pay rather well. If you’d like more information about this, feel free to contact me
No matter how much money you bring into your practice, if there is too much flowing out, because of out of control overhead, you need to stop the bleeding ASAP. So take a good look at your overhead and ask yourself some tough questions. For example, do you need all that staff? Is there a way to consolidate and cross train? What about subscriptions, services, supplies. Are you actually using what you are paying for, or is some of it on automatic renewals and it’s just piling up?
Be ruthless and go through your expenses line by line and cut what is not serving you, your patients, or your practice.
Getting a handle on the money flowing in and out of your practice is one of the keys to your success. If you are struggling, please stop and take a look at what’s going on in your practice now and see how you can turn things around.
If you are just getting started in your practice, keep these key things in mind as you plan your new business.
Now it’s Your Turn: What have you done in your practice to have more money coming and staying in your practice?