No matter what type of medical practice you have, saving money is sometimes the hardest thing to do. There are costs around every corner and figuring out where to pinch pennies and where to put your pennies is difficult. Your practice is important to you and keeping it going for as long as possible is an essential part of your life. Saving a dollar here and a dollar there can really go a long way in assuring financial security. So how do you save money in the right places?
Buying medical equipment can get outrageously pricey. From the simplest x-ray machines to the most advanced stem cell equipment, nothing is cheap in a practice. Leasing can be a fantastic alternative to outright buying. Saving thousands on purchasing that you can put elsewhere.
There are countless college students and freshly graduated young adults wanting any way in to the medical field. Use this to your advantage while giving an incredible opportunity to someone looking for experience. For example, instead of 4 assistants running the front desk have 3 assistants and 2 interns. For interns who work for experience alone, this will eliminate an entire salary, and possibly find you a great employee for the future.
Cut back on supplies
There are a lot of supplementary supplies that go along with owning a practice. The smallest things from copy paper to toilet paper can actually add up to a lot over the course of a month or a year. If you can avoid over ordering, you can spread out the cost and make it cheaper.
Credit Card Processing
Every medical practice has to deal with this. When the bills get high, people can only put them on their cards. In practices, there is always a fee for processing credit cards. Though it is small, it can add up largely. Instead, try money transfers so that you can avoid fees, and money is directly deposited into your account
Find hourly employees
There are now sites for freelancers where Physicians can hire employees hourly or by demand. For example, if your practice is seasonally busy you can keep an employee for a few months instead of paying all year for an unnecessary employee. Be careful though sometimes this can lead to bad employees.
No matter how big or small your practice is there are always ways to save a buck. Keeping track of billing, and managing your staff are important; but monitoring over-supplying and credit card processing fees are just as important. Keeping a handle on all these can make your practice run smoothly for a long time to come.
With modern marketing tools being so exciting and accessible (like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other digital platforms), it’s easy to find an old-fashioned newsletter to be a bit boring and outdated. In reality, well-made newsletters sent by email are a very easy and useful way to engage with your patients. Pretty much everyone uses email, and people like newsletters because it allows them to easily keep up with the brands they care about. Here are some tips on crafting your practice’s newsletter:
Know your brand.
Pinpoint your specialties and the most popular treatments/services you provide. What brings patients in? Talk about these things in your newsletter often. If you have a particular font and color scheme you use, implement it in your newsletter’s design (if they read well). If you don’t have a signature font, pick one that is professional and easy to read.
Build your recipient base.
Gather email addresses from your patients, including ones that are referred by other physicians. This list will provide a very targeted audience for your newsletter, helping you come up with a recipient base that is likely to read it. While your staff collects email addresses, have them reassure patients that your practice will only send helpful and relevant content, won’t send too many emails, and will never share their contact information with third parties.
If you can create a blog for your practice, do it! Stick to blogs that are 400 to 500 words in length and link relevant ones in your newsletter. If your blog post goes on longer than that, break it up into sections with headers and proper formatting to make it easier to read.
Include relevant content.
Don’t think of your newsletter as a direct advertisement. While it does serve that purpose, recipients will stop opening your emails if all those messages contain are highlights of your services and accomplishments. If you include helpful content in your newsletter, they’ll have a better time reading it and be more likely to open the next one!
There are many digital tools available to medical practices nowadays, with social media being the most popular. Newsletters are useful in their own right, and you can even use your social media pages to ask your follower base to sign up for your newsletter! If you keep the approach of gathering content that helps people, they’ll associate that with your practice’s brand.
It’s well known that outsourcing frees up time for organizations to focus on the facets of their business that are essential to continuing operations. In the case of medical practices, the same can be said of outsourcing’s benefits.
With time to focus on the aspects of the day-to-day operation that require sensitivity and decisiveness, there is less stress among your staff and greater levels of satisfaction among your patients.
Here are the areas of your practice that you can focus on with time freed up by outsourcing.
Developing Current Staff
You want to develop your staff so they can grow into their roles, but you don’t want them to be stretched thin. When you factor in the risks of burnout, much can be attributed to extra work that could be outsourced, it’s next to impossible to effectively train employees on new systems or procedures necessary to their job.
Refining Your Customer Service Approach
Going right along with staff development, customer service is an aspect of the job that can constantly be evaluated since you will either hear about your staff’s performance first hand or through online reviews. With more time to focus on development, you can actively work to evolve your customer service approach over time.
Taking time to hear your staff’s side of things and work together to address unique customer situations will result in quicker conflict resolution and better reviews.
Making Meaningful Connections
Your medical practice is built on connections with your community, providers, pharmaceutical and medical equipment vendors. Maintaining a good relationship with these individuals and groups puts you in prime position for information on new products or even better pricing over time. Tasks like social media marketing end up taking time away from getting out there to make connections face-to-face, outsourcing such tasks give you time to work on those relationships.
Focus on What You Do Best
The medical field has changed dramatically with the times, and the roles that medical practitioners take on have followed. At its core, the goal of your practice is to provide the best care possible for the patients that walk through your door. The tedious tasks associated with IT, marketing, and billing can cause your practice to lose track of its original vision.
You can always recover from a bout of bad reviews or increased staff turnover, but it requires seeking help from a partner not only gives you time to improve but can keep your practice compliant with all regulations in the process. Giving your staff the ability to do their jobs better, and in turn, live happier lives, provides a welcoming environment for current and prospective patients.
Social media is a great medium today to boost one’s business, presence, and relevance. Knowing how to use it will certainly put you in the ranks of the most successful people in your field.
How can a physician use social media advantageously? Here, we will tackle tips that can help you in the online world. But first, let’s take a look at the most used social media platforms today.
Facebook – The granddaddy of social media platforms. Facebook was once known as a replacement for MySpace and Friendster. Now, Facebook serves as an all-in-one place to cater to your personal and professional needs. Facebook can help you sell goods via the marketplace, have groups, and even organize your meetings and events.
Twitter – Just a couple years ago, Twitter only had room for 140 characters per tweet. It has doubled but still encourages pithy commentary. Twitter’s popularity stems from the ability to easily scan through hundreds of users, reading their tweets rapidly. In today’s world, this is especially important since our attention span has depleted tremendously in the last decade.
Instagram – Instagram is widely known as a photo-sharing app. Today, creatives use it to showcase their work and act as a mini portfolio. It’s best known for its 9-12 square grid type format and stories, which share a similar function as that of Snapchat’s.
LinkedIn – This platform is geared toward professionals. It’s like Facebook but instead of meeting random people, you meet co-professionals and other physicians who are looking to further their career or network.
Now that we’ve gone over the different social media platforms, let’s look at some tips that will help you in social media as a doctor:
- Use Facebook groups to announce news and other matters for convenience.
- Set appointments using the event function in Facebook.
- Tweet to disseminate information and utilize its thread function.
- Create informative Instagram stories.
- Make infographics for sharing.
- Post relevant articles on LinkedIn.
- Make your availability known.
- Keep contact information up to date.
- Give concise and relevant updates.
- Be present consistently.
- Be able to use images that are connected to your posts.
- Post original fun content.
- Respond to your audience in a timely manner.
- Engage your audience and build relationships.
- Know where your audience is hanging out online.
- Follow other doctors on social media.
- Be aware of trends and current events.
- Include emojis and know when and how to use them.
- Track and analyze your activity on social media platforms.
The key to being successful in social media is to know who your audience is and what niche you will be specializing in. It is also important to feed your audience quality content instead of drowning them in senseless posts. Branding yourself is also important as it will determine who you are in the online world. Also, remember that you do not need to please everyone since not everyone will be interested in your niche. Once you create a stable following, you only need to nurture and provide what your patients or audience need.
Change any passwords an ex-employee may know as well. Completely change the password, altering one character is not enough.
There’s plenty of work for those 10 or fewer physicians. Often work that keeps them away from seeing patients…the most important aspect of being a doctor.
The same study found that 72% of patients use review sties either often or sometimes before visiting a physician. Online reputation continues to grow in importance so maintaining that reputation is vital.
According to Emory University that’s a 30% increase over the past 30 years.
Don’t save all the fun for the weekend. Even Mondays can be great when you have something to look forward to later in the evening.
Between the months of October and March, outbreak of the flu hits its peak, which is what we refer to as flu season.
During this time, it’s advised that people avoid contact with those suffering from flu-like symptoms since it can be caught any number of ways. This is easier said than done for those who work with patients, who find it almost impossible to avoid exposure to sickness on a daily basis.
Healthcare facilities find themselves in a uniquely frightening position during flu season, which is why instituting mandatory flu vaccinations has become critical.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that healthcare personnel get vaccinated to decrease the risk of contracting the flu, and while many facilities choose to go this route, there are still some that offer more flexibility when it comes to mandatory vaccinations.
But, with that flexibility comes consequences, and many medical practices are playing a dangerous game.
That’s because the flu and its associated complications were responsible for an estimated 80,000 deaths during the 2017-2018 flu season. What’s even more troubling is that there were about 900,000 flu related hospitalizations last year, exposing many of this nation’s healthcare workers to the illness. The good news is that the CDC reports 91.9% of HCP (Health Care Personnel) working in hospitals had vaccination coverage.
Still, there are healthcare workers who often don’t get flu vaccinations like office personnel, assistants, and those working in long-term care facilities. Due to the unpredictable nature of influenza and how it travels, it’s advised that these employees also get vaccinated.
Aside from vaccinations, which is the best method for keeping a practice safe, there are also other preventative measures that should be in place. These are guidelines that every medical facility should follow, especially during flu season.
Here are some steps your practice should take to further protect against the flu:
- HCP should be notified of incoming patients with flu-like symptoms.
- HCP with flu-like symptoms or an acute respiratory infection should not be allowed to report for work.
- Institute hand hygiene procedures.
- Promote cough etiquette.
- Always provide gloves and give gowns to patients with whom you will have any tissue or fluid contact.
- Communicate between departments and notify any relevant personnel when a patient is being transferred.
A combination of smart vaccination policies and safe practices when handling patients is the best way to protect your staff from the flu this season. When it comes to the dangers we can’t see with our own eyes, education is our best friend. Maintaining constant communication with your staff and staying up to date with preventative measures ensures a safe environment for both personnel and the patients they care for.
The scope of telemedicine’s effect reaches all ends of the medical industry. Patients, medical practitioners, and insurance companies have had to adapt to new technology that is making healthcare more accessible to patients around the country.
Whether it’s a difficult trip to a doctor’s office, or a quick question concerning an unusual change in body temperature, telemedicine is putting patients in direct contact with the help they need. Physicians are taking notice, as well as the insurance companies who are learning how to treat these new services.
What we’ve seen is more patient outreach and participation, but with more services being rolled out over time, there’s more to be seen from telemedicine’s impact.
A Changing Medicaid Landscape
With more telehealth options available to patients, the way providers handle these services will no doubt change over the next few years. Medicaid, for example, is used by an estimated 20% of Americans. Despite this, and the growing use of telemedicine, only 9 states have current laws concerning Medicaid coverage of telehealth and other related services.
To further complicate things, there are still some states that don’t consider the patient’s home as an eligible site for a telehealth visit or consultation and designates that another designated location be used.
There are also many other limitations and processes in place set forth by individual states concerning reimbursement of telehealth services, but the industry seems to be shifting towards more inclusive Medicaid policies.
Rising costs are a major factor for medical practices, and telemedicine poses a solution in its use of remote systems and services that can substitute for in-face meetings.
These services include
• Telehealth appointments
• Triage services
• Remote monitoring
Telemedicine can also add some alleviation to practices with a small staff since in theory, less unnecessary visits would mandate less staffing.
The example just mentioned is indicative of telemedicine’s current position in the world of medicine; while it does provide cost cutting alternatives, its success lies in the hands of the patients. With the assistance of mobile devices, telemedicine can lead to stricter adherence to medications, a decline in the number of Emergency Room visits, and use of video consultations in place of in-person appointments.
Quicker Response Rates
We continue to see the effects of inaccessible and often unavailable mental health resources for the majority of Americans. Behavioral health issues, unlike most physical conditions, can be treated through telehealth services.
“Crisis” situations can be averted if from the privacy of their own home, a mental health patient can utilize existing telepsychiatry services to get in touch with someone they trust. Emergency help aside, people living in areas with little, to no mental healthcare providers in the area, can reach a professional through convenient methods.
New elements can enter the mix, healthcare is after all, an industry built on connections between constantly changing organizations. Telemedicine’s increased use can be solely attributed to our dependence on mobile technology, but that would ignore problems that have plagued the medical industry for years.
While it should be looked at as a tool to incorporate into existing healthcare practices, its use will only be effective if medical practices take time to craft an approach that works for their specific needs.
There are few places that inspire a wider range of emotions than a medical practice such as doctor’s offices and treatment centers. It’s for this reason that a practice must maintain a certain connection with patients, a human one.
This ensures that patients feel comfortable, and trust that your evaluations of their health and lifestyle advice are in their best interests. Along with an emphasis on excellent customer service, there are changes that can be made in your appearance and message which can set you apart from competing practices making the same claims of success.
Here are 2 ways you can give your medical practice a humanizing makeover.
Giving a Human Touch
You want your patients to feel at home when they arrive at your facility, especially because this will be the case for many. Sharing success stories with those that enter the building or visit your website validates the claims you make pertaining to treatment.
Hospitals and treatment centers for children can display artwork from current and past patients, along with photos, and their success stories.
Another way you can give a human touch is by showcasing your staff. Provide photos, short bios, or internal award recipients like “Employees of the Month” on your office walls.
Don’t Give Your Technology the Center Stage
In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, there is a scene where Hayden Christianson’s character, Anakin, is being treated for a series of injuries and burns from battle. Several droids and mechanical arms tend to the patient and give the viewer an eerie image of what medicine could look like in the future.
What makes this scene so impactful to the viewer is the cold, faceless caretakers; devoid of emotion, they carry out the surgery with no regard for the patient. While this is a fantastical vision crafted for the big screen, it can serve as a warning to practitioners concerning the way they let technology take away from the human elements that are so much a part of their practice.
The faces behind the care, and the sincere vision that defines your practice, should always be in the spotlight.
Do you need to have extensive information about your machines and innovative treatment methods?
Of course. But it’s the trust you establish with patients that encourages them to embrace the technology you have to offer. Earning that trust means connecting with the people around your practice. Embodying a unified message among your staff and creating an environment rooted in compassion is the most effective way to humanize your practice.
Anyone who says they don’t care about their reputation is either one of two things: Joan Jett or a liar.
Medical practices are some of the few organizations that cannot afford to let their reputation fall by the way side. When someone is choosing the practice that will be responsible for treating, caring, and possibly diagnosing them, they tend to be picky about who they choose.
That is why, in order to attract a steady flow of patients, medical practices need to take an active role in preserving their online reputation. They can do this by focusing on three major areas where their reputation is vulnerable.
Healthcare Site Profiles
There are websites that cater to people looking for the right physician for themselves and their family; it’s here that your practice needs to pay close attention to the information attributed to your name.
Like your name.
Basic information like this needs to be up-to-date. Names, photographs, philosophy, and whether or not you are taking new patients should always be accurate or you run the risk of misrepresenting your practice or yourself.
Photos should be professional and of good quality, and your personal philosophy should make sense to the average patient.
Insurance information should also always be accurate, have your staff regularly check to see if the right carriers and plans are listed on your profile.
Sites like ZocDoc, Vitas, and Healthgrades provide even more extensive information to those who visit your profile. Here is where you can expand on your expertise and make mention of the procedures and fields you specialize in.
Medical practices serve as prime targets for cyberattacks, in fact a recent survey of 1,300 physicians found that 83% had experienced some sort of cyberattack.
Healthcare related industries are attractive for criminals since they usually deal with tons of personal information pertaining to their patients. If any of that information were to get out, it could mean bad news for your practice. Cyber criminals know this, so they will attempt to hold a practice ransom until their demands are met.
You can take steps to protect your practice from cyber attacks by constantly updating passwords, never sharing login information with one another, utilizing cloud software, and creating backups of important files.
Probably the most vulnerable place for your reputation to be damaged is your practice’s social media page. If your practice does not have a social media presence, then you are already opening yourself up to damage. You need to own your social media presence, that way no one else but you and your practice can define the service you give.
It’s also in your best interest to look for any mentions of your practice in other people’s Tweets, statuses, or posts. If you encounter something that makes your practice look bad, kindly address the issue in a public response. Many times, people just want to be heard. Staying in communication with them makes them feel good about not only themselves, but about your practice as well.
This is the ultimate goal of any establishment that chooses to be in the public eye: to look good and have a positive reputation among the members of the community it serves.
The term “burnout” brings to mind the image of a flame slowly losing its brightness, growing smaller until there’s only smoke where fire used to be. There is a flame that lives inside all of us, it motivates and inspires us to work for what we want in life. Like a flame, elements put stress upon it and eventually put it out. Employees experience burnout when the stress of the job combines with personal issues and causes an overall dissatisfaction with the current situation. This can result in something as little as an argument or drastic as an abrupt resignation.
If you would like to keep that inner flame in your employees alive and bright, your leadership team should keep these tips in mind.
Your employees need recognition, they need to feel as if they are a valued member of your practice. Employees who feel disconnected do just that, they disconnect. You will begin to see signs of this in the way they speak to fellow staff or patients, and a sense of frustration and tension will always be evident. Establish regular employee recognition initiatives and awards, this will encourage friendly competition among your staff and motivate them to stay onboard.
Recognition does not by any means have to be formal, it can be as simple as saying “good job” spontaneously to your employees. This goes a long way with people, especially when they aren’t expecting it.
Build a Better Break Room
Your break room should be a place where staff can wind down, eat, and prepare for the next half of their shift. Give employees options when it comes to snacks and refreshments, offering alternatives to the cafeteria.
You can also bring food into work as an act of appreciation – no one turns down free cake. No one normal, at least.
Provide More Time Off
Many a relationship has benefited from both parties agreeing on a break, only becoming stronger in the end. The same can also be said of professional relationships; when employees get the room to breathe, they are able to look at their employment situation from an objective standpoint.
In the end they may think, “it’s not so bad,” and come back to work with a positive and relaxed energy.
Open lines of communication to ensure that there is nothing being withheld from you or your staff. If your employees are feeling burnt out, they should be able to talk to you about it. Let your staff know that you care about their well-being and want to be notified if they ever feel overwhelmed.
This is the easiest and first thing you should do if you suspect members of your staff are on the verge of burnout. Preemptively speaking to an employee about how they’re feeling can be the difference between developing staff who simply deal with their job and those who love their job.