I often get the question, “What should my monthly numbers be?”
My first response is, taking into account collections among other things affecting their practice, “What are your minimum requirements, annual goals, and what amount of time and energy are you willing to put in, in order to reach those results?”
This is not the answer most people in a hurry want to hear. But, maintaining your business and your numbers should never be taken as a simple side task. It should be the center of your business, and a majority of the decisions made should revolve around your requirements, goals, and resource availability.
We used to follow industry standards, until we started exceeding them. Now, they don’t matter so much to me. It’s all about the health of your business. This does not just include your outstanding A/R, but your staff, and even your patient population and payer mix.
There are several factors that evolve the good health of your practice, so just looking at how the physician down the street is doing, or the group located across town, or even outside of your area code isn’t as important as knowing your numbers, what your expectations are, and what you are willing to put in to get the desired result.
This sounds good on paper, but not sure where to start? It’s simple, really.
1. Identify. I’ve talked about the lifecycle of a single claim a few times over the years, and this is really what started the journey for me. By simply identifying where there are “areas of opportunity,” it will allow you to make better decisions on staffing and resources.
2. Evaluate. Now that you have a list of areas to focus on, evaluate your current staff. Is someone being underutilized? This often happens, burnout sets in, and the staffer eventually leaves looking for greener pastures. Turnover is high in the admin area of healthcare. It’s also very expensive for a practice to allow people to come and go with the attitude, “everyone is replaceable.” While that may be true from a bottom line standpoint, it’s a very costly attitude to maintain.
3. Implement. Now that you have your areas identified and your staff evaluated, it’s time to implement and allocate. By talking with your staff and getting their feedback on minimum requirements, goals, and resource allocation, you are well on your way to get changes implemented. Ask staff to be involved with helping monitor performance. You can even set up an incentive for reaching specific goals. There’s something about watching a group of people work together as a single team and pull their skill sets out. It’s very rewarding.
4. Maintain. So, you have this great process in place, now what? You’ll need to maintain momentum, which means no one gets to slack off. If you notice a specific area that is struggling, talk to the person/people individually and let them know you see some areas that are not keeping up. Ask them why they think that is. Give them an opportunity to see what you see, and show them the information you use to monitor that area. Ask for their help. If they are truly falling behind, you can ask the other team members for some temporary assistance. Monitor that area particularly close to make sure you have the right staffer in place.
Of course there is a time and place for industry standards, but if you are tired of being in the middle and just getting by, there are several opportunities for your practice to excel. Just try out one or two changes at first, slowly implementing, accepting feedback, and providing goals and expectations. I’ll bet your staff will surprise you.
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