5 (more) ways to make your practice thrive in 2015

Last week, I offered five practice traits that appear to be common denominators for success. In truth, I had 10 in mind, but ran out of space in which to share them. But while the first batch was mostly centered on best practices, this second half may push some of you out of your comfort zone.

Does a practice need to make all of the following changes to survive? Probably not. But I do think that being open-minded to ways your practice could evolve is critical, and an underlying theme of many success stories.

Here, again in no particular sequence, are updates worth giving serious thought:

  • Evaluate alignment opportunities. This topic is far more complex than a bullet point can do justice, but my simple advice is to explore various ways your practice could achieve the benefits of size before you feel forced into a situation that compromises too much. Identify your priorities and deal breakers before you need to make a move and begin building relationships with potential partners early. Network with your peers and listen carefully to their stories.
  • Optimize patient flow. This doesn't necessarily mean reengineering the entire way patients move through your office. Chances are that a few tweaks, reexamined regularly, will keep procedures streamlined. And don't forget to keep employees efficient. For example, look at the placement of your office equipment. While it may have once made sense to have your fax machine within arm's reach of the front desk, it may over time get more in the way as it's used less frequently. What's the best way to arrange the tools you use most today?
  • Tighten collections, and then tighten them some more. Compared to collecting deductibles from patients, managing insurance reimbursement may now seem like a cakewalk. But you can't afford to get complacent on either front. To make ends meet, many practices add services and extend office hours. But that effort is for naught if you don't collect the dollars you've worked so hard to earn. Invest in hiring and training the right people to stay vigilant on keeping your revenue cycle flowing--and routinely solicit their ideas on how it could run even better.
  • Explore (or invent) new or alternative models of care. There is no longer any one way to structure a medical practice. Even the concierge model or patient-centered medical home will look different from one office to the next. Just for fun, think about what is less than ideal about the office you run now, and how you would change it if you could. Dreaming of doing away with insurance contracts? Not the wildest idea anymore. Want to offer one-stop shopping for all of your patients' needs and offer pony rides around the parking lot? Crazier things have likely happened. Then take your wish list and prioritize potential action items. Innovate strategically.
  • Drive your own reputation. Whether you put your practice on the social media map or not, chances are high it has an online presence. What gets posted about you on Yelp or even an individual's Facebook page is out of your control. Even online databases hosted by the federal government or health plans may contain errors. Frustrating as it may be, maintain awareness of what's "out there" about you and make sure you, not somebody else, are the authoritative source on all information about your practice. This means that your website and social media accounts will be as easy to find and current as possible. Even if you delve no further into engaging your community online, take control of disseminating the facts. - Deb (@PracticeMgt)

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