5 Common mistakes that are costing medical practices money & how to fix them

A sound piece of financial advice during tough economic times is to tighten your belt. It’s easy to spot your business costs when it comes to bigger business expenses such as rent, insurance, assets or equipment.  But between seeing patients and running a busy practice, there’s a good chance that there are some small, everyday mistakes that are being overlooked but could be adding a significant cost component to your bottom line. 

In this post, we identify 5 Common mistakes that are costing medical practices money & how to fix them

1. Not auditing operating costs

Operating costs like utilities and office supplies can add up over the long term. It’s a good idea to look at what you spend on these things on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis.  Knowing this will allow you to set a target for how much you want to reduce them by and how. 

Quick fix: A great way to reduce office stationery is to go digital. That way, you’re not only minimising printer ink cartridges, paper, and other consumables but you’re also introducing more efficiency into your practice. 

2. Admin work is prioritised over patient interactions

Admin is a necessary evil in any business but in a medical practice, it can cost you money if your front office staff spend more time on paperwork than they do engaging with your patients about policies, procedures, co-payments and more. Imagine a scenario whereby your staff are carrying out benefit checks on the phone and as a result, only invoicing your patients once they’ve left your practice. Our data shows that patients who are invoiced before they leave the practice are more likely to pay in full at the time of service. 

Quick fix: Use automation to lighten the admin load on your staff so that they can spend more time communicating with patients. A few basic admin tasks which should be automated include: checking patient benefits, reconciling, confirming appointments, and payment reminders.

3. Long waiting times

It’s almost impossible to guarantee no waiting times in a medical practice. While most patients are aware that they will need to wait, it can count against you when patients are left waiting for extended periods of time. Waiting times might not have an obvious impact on your practice finances but it can prevent your patients from referring you or result in bad online reviews or walk outs and missed appointments.  This can all be tallied as missed income. 

Quick fix: Use a practice management solution that enables you to see which patients your staff have checked in to your waiting room. That way you have a real-time view of how many patients are in your waiting room and you can better manage your time in consultation. Better still, we all know that sometimes even the most efficient practices can be running behind so if you are overbooked, your admin staff can send courtesy customised SMSes to patients who’ll be affected to let them know you are running behind.

4. Poor staff management

Finding, managing and keeping the right staff can be one of the biggest challenges in running a business. Staff costs are also usually one of the highest expenses in business, second only to property and fixed assets. Look at ways to minimise any unnecessary expenses when it comes to staff. 
Hiring – hiring the wrong individuals can result in a high staff turnover which is costly. Whether you are using a recruitment agency or doing the hiring yourself, do thorough reference checks, trust your instincts and don’t hire out of desperation. Ask your networks for recommendations and rather wait to find a good fit than hire the wrong person and waste money on hiring and re-recruiting.  

Remuneration – This is a tricky subject but, paying good performers poorly can cost you more money in the long run than offering them a fair wage and incentives to grow. On the other hand, hiring someone who’s affordable but inexperienced can mean costly mistakes. 

Quick fix: Good staff are one of your most valuable assets and can go a long way in attracting and retaining patients. The best approach to managing staff is to have an engagement strategy in place. Click here for more about how to get the best out of your staff. 

5. Not having a patient collection policy in place

Patients who don’t pay straight after their consultation are less likely to pay or take longer to pay – both of which affect your cash flow. The good news is that most patients appreciate communication about issues relating to billing, such as co-payments, outstanding balances, available medical aid funds, etc. whether it be in-person or digital.

Quick fix: A crucial part of a good patient communication strategy is to have a clear payment policy in place that spells out your terms and conditions for patients. Having a patient collection policy in place also outlines steps for our staff to know how to collect outstanding monies owed to you. 

Looking at these five costly common mistakes, you’ll see that most of them come down to improving communication with patients and efficiency. Healthbridge has been helping medical practices streamline their businesses and open communication with their patients for over 20 years. Click here to have a Business Consultant call you back to show you how we can help you save money and run a better practice. 

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