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Recession-proof your medical practice

Warnings that South Africa hovers on the brink of a technical recession have been loud & clear. Ongoing power outages, rising interest rates & a decline in consumer confidence paint a sobering picture for businesses of every kind. 

While access to healthcare is a basic need & necessary service, private practices aren’t immune to a drop in revenue – either because of loadshedding or cash-strapped patients juggling competing financial responsibilities. 

Invest in your business 

Whether your private practice has experienced a drop in patient appointments or not (yet), it’s time to take proactive steps to ward off losses & protect your business. It might be tempting – & wise – to cut expenses but at the same time, it’s equally as important to continue to invest in your business to recession-proof it.  

Healthcare technology can help practices prepare for & mitigate the effects of an economic recession. Investing in practice growth technology, such as practice management solutions & billing software, can not only minimise your risk but it can help your business grow.  

It’s critically important to retain & expand your patient base & the right end-to-end solution is a powerful way to boost your patient experience. Practice management software that integrates with online booking platforms, such as Recomed, give patients the freedom to make appointments at their convenience. 

Similarly, BulkSMS is an easy & cost-effective way to communicate with patients more frequently. Sending appointments or payment reminders, or encouraging patients to come in for annual check-ups or flu vaccinations, for example, personalise your patient’s experience, making them more likely to return. 

Practice management software also automates routine tasks, reducing the admin burden on your staff and frees them up to focus on your patients. This could mean boosting in-person communication while at your practice and/or maximising your online reputation to attract new patients. If you haven’t yet taken the steps to make it easier for patients to find & review your practice online, click here for more about how to market your medical practice ethically. 

Make it easier to get paid 

Intuitive billing software can streamline your patient collection processes & reduce bad debt. Functionality such as automated benefit checks, real-time claims submission & invoicing make it possible to collect from patients immediately after their appointment. Asking patients to settle their invoice before they leave your practice, drastically improves your chances of getting paid on time & in full. That can only be good for your cash flow. 

In addition, a comprehensive billing solution is a wise recession-proofing investment for several other reasons, including: 

  • Improving the efficiency of your entire Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) process – save valuable time & staff resources, as well as minimising the need for outsourced collections services.  
  • Reduced coding errors – by boosting coding accuracy with customisable templates, you reduce the risk of rejected claims thereby increasing your revenue – something you want during a recession. 
  • Automated reconciliations – know what claims have been reimbursed without the hassle & time burden of manual reconciliations. 
  • Easy-to-use reporting – a good medical billing solution can help you make data-driven decisions about your practice’s finances with actionable reports. Analysing your practice data can highlight areas for improvement or inefficiencies that are holding you back. 
  • Lastly, by using billing software that integrates with omnichannel digital payment options, like Snapscan, you can offer patients more practical, convenient ways to pay.  

Use your data 

When discussing investing in practice growth technology above, we talked about utilising an end-to-end solution to mitigate risk & losses. In other words, use integrated cloud-based practice management & billing software that can seamlessly share relevant information between the systems.  

Your practice produces clinical & financial/operational data every day. Aside from revenue, data is arguably one of the most valuable tools you have to help you build your practice. Using software that isn’t integrated negates some of the fundamental benefits of operating as a digital practice. For example, you won’t save as much time & money on routine administrative tasks. Or communication between you & your staff about billing instructions, medical coding and/or follow-up appointments won’t be as clear as when you’re doing everything from a single log in. 

Here are more ways electronic medical records (EMRs) is one of the keys to future-proofing your practice: 

  • Reduce costs & improve efficiency – EMRs reduce the reliance on paper-based processes in a practice. This can save time & money on administrative tasks & reduce the need for physical storage space. 
  • Improving care coordination & patient safety – User-friendly EMRs give you a snapshot of your patient’s most recent interactions, medicines, chronic conditions, medical history as well as lab results. A multi-disciplinary team can collaborate on treatment plans using the same information. This alone reduces the risk of treatment or medication errors, as well as decreases the number of unnecessary tests & procedures. 
  • Enhanced flexibility & opportunities to generate additional revenue – Storing your practice & patient information in the cloud gives you greater flexibility because you can access your data from any location or device. This flexibility also extends to your patients, who readily adopt Telehealth as a convenient, viable alternative to in-person consultations. Adding Telehealth to your services future-proofs your practice from the impact of an economic downturn – as we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Trendspotting & forecasting – analysing both your clinical & practice data will reveal trends to help you prepare for & thrive in a recession. For example, you could identify patients at risk of chronic conditions & develop targeted interventions. Or you can spot trends in your revenue & plan your cash flow (or growth) accordingly. 

These are just some of the ways healthcare technology is a strategic investment in recession-proofing your practice. Even though you can’t change the economic climate, you can make positive changes to run a successful practice. Healthbridge is the technology partner of choice for almost 7000 private medical practices throughout South Africa. For more information about how Healthbridge can help you recession-proof your practice, contact & an experienced Business Consultant will be in touch.

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