9 Considerations for Medical Practice Success

How successful is your medical practice?

1
Patient Flow

From the time a patient schedules an appointment, arrives to the medical office, checks-in for their visit, sits in the waiting area, waits in the exam room, is treated by a physician, checks-out and pays, and finally leaves, only the patient knows whether the entire process flowed smoothly or not.

In order to determine if your medical office has a smooth patient flow, find out the answers to the following questions:

  • Was the patient spoken to with respect when calling in for an appointment? 
  • Was the patient greeted by the receptionist with courtesy and respect?
  • How long did the patient wait to see the doctor?
  • Did the nurse and doctor explain the details of the services provided to the patient?
  • Did the nurse and doctor answer all the patient's questions?
  • Did the patient receive excellent customer service?
  • Was the exam room clean, comfortable and prepared?
  • Was the waiting area safe, clean and spacious?

2
Customer Service & Patient Satisfaction

Standards of practice for patient satisfaction addresses every aspect of patient interaction and impact, including such issues as telephone etiquette, patient greetings, and check out procedures as well as notifications and scheduling. When an office has clear standards and expectations the likelihood of error or misunderstanding is greatly decreased and patient satisfaction is largely increased.

Providing high-quality care and excellent customer service will prevent loss of revenue for the medical office due to a high level of patient satisfaction. Patients will very likely continue to come back as long as they are satisfied with the entire process.

So how do you find out how patients perceive the process of your medical office?

  • Develop and distribute Patient Satisfaction Surveys
  • Sit in the waiting area and observe what goes on from that point of view
  • Put yourself through the entire process
  • Talk to your staff and find out what problems they may be aware of

3
Hiring Practices

Hiring the best medical office staff is an effective way of strengthening an internal controls process. Hiring staff that is competent, trustworthy and reliable by thoroughly pre-screening candidates is just good business sense.  Background checks and reference checks are easy ways to weed out any bad apples and deter certain people from applying for the job. 

There are four parts of pre-employment screening process:

  1. Criminal background check: Criminal background checks are an important part of your pre-employment screening. Failure to conduct these checks could possibly place your medical office at legal risk.
  2. Reference check: Conducting reference checks is an important step in finalizing the hiring process with your candidate. Reference checks can reveal a lot of information about your candidate that can validate the information supplied on the application and resume. 
  3. Health assessment: A health assessment is required especially for employees that work around patients. Your candidate should have a neg TB skin test to protect patients and other medical office staff and a drug screen to support a drug-free workplace.
  4. Verification of credentials: Verifying credentials includes checking the status of certification, license and/or degree. Many positions in the medical office require higher education in order to perform the tasks of the job.

4
Key Performance

  •  Accounts receivables: The accounts receivable, or AR, report is designed to analyze the financial health of the medical office. Using the discharge date of the patient account, the AR report calculates the length of time it takes for medical claims to get paid. 
  • Denials: Denial resolution is necessary in achieving financial goals.  One important way to improve cash flow in the medical office is to track denials by calculating denial rates. 
  • Collections: Collection rates help the medical office determine how successful the office is in collecting receivables.  This rate tells a lot about the financial performance of the medical office.  If you want to know how effective at collecting receivables then calculating collection rate is important.

5
Safety

Doctor taking patients blood pressure in examination room
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Safety concerns in the medical office include the safety of both patients and employees. Managers should have a method for patients and employees to report safety concerns.

  • Occupational and Environmental Safety

    An occupational and environmental safety assessment focuses on the work environment of the medical office that can potentially cause harm, injury or illness to the staff. Performing this type of an assessment can be used to prevent, eliminate and reduce workplace hazards that directly relate to exposures blood or body fluids, hazardous or chemical spills or exposure, medical equipment failure or malfunction, risks of physical injury, security threats, fires or any other unsafe work condition.

  • Patient Safety and Quality

    Patient safety refers to methods to prevent harm to patients. Patient safety practices in the areas of medical errors, fall prevention, infection control, and medication management are essential to reducing the risk of adverse events and preventable injuries. Quality and safety are linked together in terms of standards of care. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) identifies quality of care as "safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable".

6
Financial Goals

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  • Rising Operating Costs: Decreasing physician payments, fewer patients, and high technology costs can be financially crippling. The best way to handle rising operating costs is to monitor them and then develop a plan to cut costs. Three areas that can add up to thousands of dollars in savings per year include office supplies, medical supplies, and office equipment.
  • Collecting Patient Payments: In recent years, the entire health care industry has become more aggressive in their collection practices. With the ever-rising costs associated with health care, it is extremely important to the livelihood of any facility to get the maximum reimbursement which largely relies on patient payments.
  • Maximizing Insurance Reimbursements: Managing the revenue cycle efficiently is no easy task and requires your constant attention. Each phase of the Revenue Cycle - from the moment a patient is scheduled for an appointment until the time payment is received from the insurance company - is equally important to maximizing insurance reimbursements.

7
Medical Staff Performance

General practitioner
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The performance of the medical office is highly based on the individual performance of the medical office staff. This makes measuring medical staff performance by way of individual evaluations critical for achieving higher levels of excellence. Managers can measure medical office staff performance by developing and maintaining a system that measures both quality and quantity of work as specified in the job description for each position. There are many benefits to measuring performance. Here are four:

  1. Compliance: Evaluations provide the documentation in cases where termination is necessary. Managers use evaluations in determining advancement opportunities and increases to compensation. It also prevents unfairness in promoting, rewarding, reassigning and transferring staff to other positions.
  2. Communication: Communication should provide effective feedback regarding medical staff performance. It is necessary for the evaluation to be communicated to each employee. Evaluation discussions promote two-way interaction between managers and staff about job-related issues.
  3. Motivation: Encouraging employees to achieve satisfactory performance or perform at a higher standard. A motivated employee is one that feels a sense of pride in what they do every day. Knowing and understanding how an individual contributes to the success of the medical office is a great motivator for improving performance.
  4. Development: Assessing employee performance is essential for bringing awareness to managers and staff of opportunities for training and development. Evaluations encourage efforts to improve performance problems and identify the steps necessary for creating a performance improvement plan.

8
Work Environment

Together, success is a given
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Having a positive attitude allows you to see positive solutions when faced with challenges. When you stop focusing on the negative you will be more open to seeing a way to resolve the problem versus just sitting around and complaining. A positive attitude is key for having positive outcomes.

Creating a positive work environment is valuable in every healthcare setting, from medical office to clinic, hospital, or long-term care facility. As healthcare professionals focus on healing and supporting their patients, they must not forget that their coworkers also need to be nurtured in the work environment.

Your patients deserve the best staff to provide them with the best care possible. When your employees have a positive attitude, your patients will feel it when they walk in the door. Patients, especially when they are not feeling well, rely on the staff of the medical practice to make them feel safe, secure and cared for. A positive attitude by the staff creates a warm and inviting atmosphere for the patients.

The success of the medical office is not just about giving positive feedback. Getting positive feedback from patients and staff are important for the medical office to continue to gain desired results. Knowing what's going well and what's not going well are equally important in the developing strategies and goals for maintaining positive results.

9
Plans to Boost Performance

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To effectively bring about positive change, you must identify the problems in your medical office and implement corrective actions. A medical office assessment can help you identify the areas that need to be addressed in order to develop a new plan for success.

  • Reducing unnecessary expenses requires developing strict and cautious spending habits. Focus on areas in which expenses can be cut down or out completely. Consider the expenses that are not essential to the operations of the medical office
  • Let go of unprofitable patients. It sounds harsh. However, a medical practice is like any other business. It can only stay in business if it is profitable. The bottom line is that patients who do not generate a profit are part of the problem. If a patient is utilizing the resources of the practice but is not financially beneficial, then it is for the betterment of the medical office to discharge the patient.
  • Partnering with a specialist is an excellent way to improve the financial conditions of the medical office. A specialist brings along a new stream of patients, some of which may cross over to other physicians in the practice. In addition, the specialist may bring a fresh, new perspective to the medical office that can increase revenues. 

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