Practices must resolve to trim costs in 2013

Even with a 27 percent cut to Medicare physician payments temporarily averted, one of the most critical ways for practices to offset unpredictable reimbursements during implementation of the Affordable Care Act is to keep expenses under control, according to a recent post from Physicians Practice.

Put bluntly, practices should strive to "cut every expense that does not produce revenue, save money, and/or strengthen your private/public payer mix," wrote James Doulgeris, a healthcare consultant with Florida-based HCP Associates. "Invest in those that do, particularly care coordination and patient-communication technology," he added.

A recent briefing from Huron Consulting Group recommended that groups take a hard look at their operations efficiency, capacity management, financial stability and clinical effectiveness.

"While these may seem like basic blocking-and-tackling capabilities, we are finding major opportunities--between 10-20 percent improvement--by helping medical groups standardize and streamline in these areas," Timothy Ogonoski, managing director of Huron's Physician Solutions Practice, wrote.

But it's not just dramatic changes, such as dropping an unprofitable payer contract, that can make a difference to practice revenue. Some quick money-saving tips from a separate Physicians Practice post include making your office more energy efficient, opting for refurbished furniture and equipment and hiring an intern to do basic administrative tasks.

Another way to make a potentially large dent in lost practice revenue is to help patients remember to show up for their appointments. According to a recent post from Health Care Communication News, a whopping 58 percent of people who make doctor's appointments don't keep them. To thwart the most common culprit in missed appointments--simple forgetting them--consider sending automated reminders through voice or SMS text messages.

To learn more:
- read this post from Physicians Practice
- see these cost-cutting tips from Physicians Practice
- read this briefing (.pdf) from Huron Consulting Group
- see this post from Health Care Communication News