What to do while the financial market crisis subsides

To date, there's been no clear signs that the subprime-traumatized financial markets are back to normal. In fact, interest rates haven't returned to pre-bust levels, lending remains tight and investment returns aren't exactly stellar. So what can healthcare financial managers do to keep their ship sailing ahead without having to generate huge capital funds? Here's a few ideas borrowed from your colleagues:

* Look at new service lines: Retail clinics, for example, are becoming an increasingly viable option for hospitals, and not just as feeder sites. On-site clinics for employers are gaining traction too. What about an "executive" health center offering big-ticket physicals for the prosperous, worried types?

* Improve the ways in which you get dollars in the door: Among my favorites--While I don't have current data, I suspect that allowing web payments can dramatically improve bill payment rates.

* Save money with gainsharing deals: Yes, these are tricky legally, but it appears from HHS rulings that they're kosher, at least some of the time. Your attorney(s) can, of course, help here.

* Hold a series of meetings with big admitters: Take this time, when you're not tied up with financial details, and renew your relationship with your top physician admitters. While you're at it, get their sense of how they and their colleagues' compensation deals are working. It never hurts to gather a bit of intelligence.

Of course, this just scratches the surface, and I'm probably not telling you anything you don't know already--but food for thought never hurts. Hey, I know you're not exactly sitting around drinking coffee and reading Sports Illustrated, even without a bunch of money to throw into giant new towers and the like, but these are some activities that have been very successful for some of your peers, so why not regroup and give some of them a try? - Anne