3 practice tips to thrive in hard times

Tennessee group practice Fayetteville Medical Associates recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. "Never in that time--which included the 1918 flu epidemic, two world wars, and at least one depression--have we been as challenged as we are now in the changing world of health care," Dr. J. Fred Ralston Jr., an internist at the practice who happens to be past president of the American College of Physicians, told the New York Times.

But like challenges of the past, these too can be overcome. To keep celebrating your practice's birthday for 100 years and beyond, consider the following advice from thriving physicians interviewed by the Times:

  • Employ a low number of high-quality support staff. By cross-training all employees and doing multiple tasks himself, such as escorting patients to exam rooms, Dr. Jack Flyer, a physician at CardioCare in Chevy Chase, Md., has been able to cut his office's support staff in half (from 20 to 10) within two years. Meanwhile, visits increased 20 percent.
  • Offer expanded office hours. Keeping your doors open beyond 9 to 5 is not only a huge factor in patient satisfaction, but it also allows practices to spread the cost of office space over more time. By being open until 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, for example, a practice could get 60 hours of clinical time out of its space versus the typical 36.
  • Respond to change. When the credit crisis had fewer patients pursuing parenthood at Shady Grove Fertility two years ago, the 13-location market leader worked with an outside company to secure financing for some patients. The practice also offers a program to let patients share eggs from a single donor, cutting the $13,500 to $25,000 cost of infertility treatment by as much as $6,000.

To learn more:
- read the article from the New York Times

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