The path towards the future has never been more unsure. The demands put on practices and patients to make decisions about everything from healthcare insurance to EHR rules to ICD10 to the Affordable Healthcare act has never been more riddled with confusion and uncertainty.
So what can a practice do right now to prepare for all the unknowns?
- Control what you know you can. Take this opportunity to take a hard look at cost. There are fixed costs that may be outside the range of your immediate control. (although by looking at all the options available to you, even ones you may not have considered before, even fixed costs can be managed better in the long range) What are the costs you can control? Although employees may say we cannot do without x,y,z……why not put that to the test?
- Focus on AR greater than 120 days old. Of course you want to work denials as quickly as possible, of course you do not want to allow current processes to lag. But when is the last time you really considered what’s in that greater than 120 day bucket of accounts receivable? Are there things you can write off as non-collectible? Are there transactions that simply haven’t been worked? Are there trends of denials that through analysis of this bucket can prevent current transactions from aging? Cleaning up AR will bring in cash, allow you to focus on processes that haven’t worked as well as your thought they would and position your practice for changes coming down the road.
- What IT services do you need vs. what are you being told by sales guys you need? Do not make rushed decisions about IT services. Even though IT is the driver of most of the future of healthcare; make sure that what you need to meet EHR requirements and communication needs are not just “wish list” items you don’t need and can’t afford. Ask the real experts what your business requirements are and they will give you a realistic answer of how to meet those needs and plan for the future.
- Now is the time to ask questions. What is your practice doing to establish long term goals? How are you planning for future physician compensation? Are there current opportunities for growth but you are nervous about the future? Is your practice positioned to “stand alone” vs. being acquired by a hospital entity?
Taking stock of your current assets, controlling costs, projecting future revenue, taking advantage of current opportunities for growth may need an outside objective analysis. Practice management is complex and requires real expertise and vision to sustain a successful business model. Making sure of what you know and how your future can be controlled by decisions you make today will only increase your practice strengths and prepare you for “unknowns”.