7 Healthcare Actions for 2018

7 Healthcare Actions for 2018

As healthcare continues to become more and more competitive, it is of absolute necessity that your medical practice creates a strategic plan – or a series of plans – to move your business into 2018. Healthcare today is more than just providing medical treatment; it’s a full lifecycle function of relationship building, internal management, reporting and much more. It is not always easy for practices – especially smaller practices – to handle all of these functions effectively in-house. However, each of the following healthcare actions are important for practices of any size to properly plan for in the upcoming year…and beyond.

  • Controlling Costs

Medical practices have an enormous amount of overhead costs:

  • Payroll and related benefits
  • Equipment purchases or leasing
  • Medical and office supplies
  • Office space leasing
  • Malpractice premiums
  • Implementation of new technologies
  • Staff training
  • Staff incentives
  • Marketing

Some of these costs, such as rent, are fixed and not typically subject to change. However, your practice may have many opportunities to lower your costs on services and supplies. Practices often become complacent about researching cheaper alternatives because it is usually easier to remain with the status quo. However, this lackadaisical approach could have you throwing money out the door every single day.

One alternative is to join a Management Services Organization (MSO) to gain access to bulk pricing as part of a larger group. The best prices from leading suppliers will have already been negotiated for you. Services can remain the same (or be improved) and your practice could save money in the long run.

In addition, providing staff training or staff incentives, such as bonuses or gift cards, could encourage your staff to work harder on conversion rates, patient satisfaction or generating/encouraging patient reviews. While this may seem like an added expense, the end result could actually increase your revenue.

  • Adequate Staffing

When we say adequate staffing, this does not necessarily mean more staff. Successful practices run a tight ship, with all employees carrying their weight and performing their duties to the very best of their abilities. Sometimes it is necessary for practices to take a close look at the performance of every team member to ensure that:

  • Their job role is really necessary
  • They truly have the skills to perform that job
  • They are motivated to do their best every day
  • They work well as a team
  • They are treating patients well

This can become difficult if employee friendships are involved, but trimming unnecessary staff – or hiring more effective new staff – can also greatly affect your bottom line. It may be advisable to have an outside professional analyze your staff – from an outsider’s point of view – and provide recommendations.

  • Alternative Payment Methods

For practices that offer elective surgery options, providing alternative payment methods will be extremely attractive to potential patients. In a time when 70-year-old celebrities look like they are 40, treatments that are considered medically unnecessary are starting to appeal to a greater segment of our population – even Millennials. People want to look younger and they will find ways to make these procedures that are not covered by insurance fit into their budgets.

By offering 0% or low-interest financing options for your elective procedures, you will be opening the door for more patients to choose you. You can also bridge the cost gap by promoting other ways to afford procedures such as using Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, tax refunds and more. The more payment options you promote to your community, the fuller your surgery schedule will be.

  • Value Beyond Treatment

Of course, the surgical and treatment results your doctor(s) provide are extremely important. However, patients now place a great deal of value on the entire experience with your practice. From initial website visits and phone calls to how they are moved through your practice during office visits, your patients want to be treated like they are a VIP. The more attention you can place on small details like your office décor, refreshments, personal greetings/conversations, etc., the more positive feedback they will share with others.

The problem arises when your practice has the internal perception that you are providing a good experience when in actuality the outside reality does not match. Again, it may be time to enlist the assistance of an external company to assess exactly what type of experience your patients are receiving at every touch point. Every interaction matters, no matter how quick it is.

As you learn to place real value on the patient experience, your reputation in your community will become one of compassion, trustworthiness and excellence.

  • Partnerships

Healthcare partnerships can be extremely helpful, rewarding and lucrative. MSO partnerships were mentioned earlier in this blog as a way to save money on services and supplies you purchase on a regular basis.

Beyond MSOs, your practice should also work hard to create strong relationships with other doctors that might refer their patients to you for advanced treatments. Not only will this increase your revenue flow (for very little outlay on your part), it will also add to the value component that patients appreciate.

For example, a seamless referral process can be achieved through the creation of Physician Referral Portals on your website. These types of systems can allow doctors to refer their patients online – and keep track of their patient’s progress with your practice – through a HIPAA secure network, making the process easier on internal staff. The patient can be blissfully unaware of the back-and-forth information sharing; what they will know is that they receive the care they need in a timely and effortless fashion.

Of course, there are many different types of partnerships that can benefit your practice. Again, it may be helpful to hire an outside firm to help identify what types of partnerships might be a good fit for you.

  • Technology

From electronic health record software to technology for medical procedures, your practice must be ready to implement the very latest systems to stay competitive. You most likely know what types of technologies are coming down the pipe in 2018 and being the first in your community to offer the procedures will give you a leg up on your competition. This means staff training, capital investments, marketing, clinical trials and more to get your practice up to speed and ready to roll out the systems.

This all takes planning. If you don’t have the internal staff to plan for technology implementation, hire external help.

  • Marketing

Marketing was mentioned earlier under Controlling Costs, but it deserves its own category. Marketing your healthcare services in the right ways can seriously boost your surgery schedule and revenue.

Marketing today encompasses a wide range of activities such as:

  • Social media/review generation
  • Targeted emails/newsletters
  • Website design/ongoing search engine optimization (SEO) activities
  • Print advertising/flyers/posters
  • Special events
  • Internet radio/radio/TV

It is easy to get caught up in producing attractive pieces but not follow through on results. It is easy to use wording in your marketing that only appeals to other doctors. Every marketing venture you undertake should be well thought out, speak the right language, be delivered through the proper channels and be fully analyzed as to its performance.

Many potential patients will make decisions based on price; you know that doing so can result in very unsatisfying results. So, if the services you provide are not the very cheapest in your community, your marketing message better speak to the benefits of your particular practice and your differentiating factors.

Are you ready to plan for your practice’s success in 2018? Do you feel you need help in any of the areas listed above? If so, contact Advantage Healthcare Consulting a division of Advantage Administration, Inc. today to learn how our MSO may have the services you need at low rates to promote your healthy bottom line.