Office Staff Evaluation
In many practices, office staff spend more time with patients than physicians. Patientsrespond to all of the treatment they receive, not just the physical examination andconsultation provided by the physician, so it is important to assess how well office staffare performing their duties. Asking staff to rate themselves on their service to patients isa good reminder of basic patient relations. You may discover differences of opinion thatare worth discussing at future staff meetings or performance reviews.Another way to find out how well you are doing is to ask your staff to anonymouslyassess your practice and suggest ways that it could be improved. Ask office staff toassess their personal capabilities, the services of the practice, the building and workingenvironment, and the overall strengths and weaknesses of the practice. It is also helpfulto allow office staff to make suggestions on how to make improvements in these areas.
A financial analysis gives a practice an indication of how well it is doing, helps identifystrengths and weaknesses, and begins to define problems and opportunities that might beaddressed in a marketing strategy. Conduct a financial analysis that reviews thepractice’s profit-and-loss statement, tax returns, accounts receivable, billing records andinsurance claim files. Your accountant may recommend additional ways to collect ororganize important financial facts. If your billing system is computerized, much of theinformation you need should be readily available in routine reports.
Run reports using your billing system or manually record the sources of payment forservices. In general, your patients should come from a mix of health plans so that you donot become reliant on reimbursement from one payer. While it is not easy to restorebalance in a practice that has become dependent upon a few sources of reimbursement,this analysis will help identify if there is a potential financial danger that could beimproved by seeking a different mix of patients.
Your accountant may also help you look at the profitability of individual procedures andhelp determine if new services could be added or existing services discontinued.Although profitability is important, other factors must be taken into consideration as wellbecause you may offer services that do not produce direct revenue, but increase patientsatisfaction and new patient referrals that enhance the overall profitability of the practice.If overall practice growth appears to be the key to long-term financial success, acampaign to attract new patients may be your goal. On the other hand, if providing moreservices to existing patients will meet your objectives, you may want to build a marketingstrategy around adding and promoting a new procedure. Determine what your populationwants and needs from your practice and plan an information campaign to let them knowhow you can serve. In most cases, the marketing strategies will include retainingpatients, improving services to them, and growth.
Marketing to Patients
Even in today’s complex health insurance marketplace, physician recommendations fromfamily members and friends are vital to the success of a medical practice. Generatingword-of-mouth referrals requires a commitment from your entire office to provide yourcurrent patients with efficient and friendly service. The difference today is thatphysicians must contract with the same health plans that their patient populations use.Your success is also dependent on health plan provider directories, so be sure yourpractice is accurately listed on the Internet and in all print directories. Once these healthplan details are in order, you will be more accessible to new patients.Patients are increasingly pressuring physicians to consider quality of care initiatives fortheir practice as well. For this reason, it may be useful to participate in the AMA’sPhysician Consortium for Performance Improvement, which aims to provide performancemeasurement resources for practicing physicians to facilitate implementation of clinicalquality improvement programs. By participating in The Consortium, you will obtainperformance measures that represent a consensus of experts in clinical and research fieldsand include those measurable activities in which physicians can participate tocontinuously improve quality of care and outcomes. To learn more about TheConsortium visit www.ama-assn.org/go/quality.