6 Tips to Improve Your Practice and Increase Revenue

If you’re reading this blog, we probably don’t have to make the case to you that good practice management is incredibly important. You live it every day. And even if you’ve been in the industry a long time, keeping up can still be a challenge.

Constantly changing rules for billing, coding, and insurance. Ever-increasing competition from the nearby health center and large conglomerates. Sudden staff departures that throw everyone else’s schedules into chaos. You find yourself working well into the evening, multiple nights per week, just to get everything caught up.

It’s no wonder that more than 50 percent of physicians now report at least one symptom of burnout. You’re working harder and harder to keep up—and in fact, you may have even seen your revenue stagnate or go down.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Now, one blog isn’t going to fix everything. One blog couldn’t even begin to cover all the advice, tips, and topics out there. We know that.

But we hope that you’ll find at least a couple of pearls here that can get you moving in the right direction.

Hire Carefully

True: no matter how much care and patience you exercise during the hiring process, there’s no way to guarantee that 100% of your candidates will work out. And that can be disappointing and disheartening when it happens.

But most practices tend to err on the other side—they hire too quickly and ignore warning signs.

Also true: patience is hard, especially during a critical staffing shortage. We totally get that. But sticking to your standards and hiring the right person for the job is almost always going to spare you the most pain (and make your practice the most money) over the long run.

Some key safeguards to maximize your chances of hiring the right people?

  • Before you even post it, make sure you come up with a clear, detailed, accurate job description.
  • Job shadowing (and discussion with your current staff afterward to get some impressions)
  • Background checks
  • Trial period

Important considerations: the “right” person isn’t necessarily the one with the most impressive resume. And regardless of who you hire, it’s important to continue investing in and training your people so they continue to grow.

Speaking of which …

Cross Train Your Team

We brought this up in our last blog about ways to motivate your staff, which is definitely worth a read for anyone looking to improve their practice. Pretty much all those suggestions apply here, too.

Cross training is really important, especially in smaller practices with fewer total employees (who often have more fluid job titles and responsibilities). It allows you to accommodate vacation requests, manage sudden short-term changes in workflow (perhaps due to an employee quitting or having to be let go), and just deal with the unexpected a lot more smoothly in general.

It has other benefits, too. For one, cross training keeps employees more motivated and engaged with what they’re doing. It boosts confidence and job satisfaction. It helps employees see the “big picture” more clearly. Increases understanding and empathy between colleagues. And it creates more opportunities for internal promotions, too—when a leadership position opens up, you’ve got a well-rounded, skilled person you already trust working in your office who may be a good candidate.

Perform Regular Internal Audits

Nobody especially enjoys audits—and in some cases, they can even be a source of anxiety for members of your staff. “What if I screwed up? Doesn’t my manager trust me?” Plus they take time—time that can’t be spent on patient care or other revenue-generating activities.

We get it.

But the truth is that audits are extremely necessary, especially in a rapidly changing field like healthcare. It’s not that you don’t trust that your people are doing their best. Mistakes do happen. Documents and best practices that used to be “current” may now be out of date. Key information may be missing.

Regularly reviewing your practices (coding, billing, documentation, marketing, etc.) along a set schedule will help you identify compliance risks sooner and adapt more quickly to emerging best practices.

Cut Down on Missed Appointments

Last-minute cancellations—or just straight-up no-shows—are extremely frustrating for any team. On the plus side, you might get a few spare minutes to work on paperwork! But the downside, obviously, is that you just lost a chunk of revenue while paying the same costs.

Although there’s no way to cut missed appointments all the way down to zero, there are also very simple, low-cost ways to keep that number as small as possible—without necessarily resorting to draconian cancellation fees.

One of the best is setting up automated reminders using a variety of methods. In this day and age, text message reminders are especially effective. As you get closer to the appointment date, when you send a “reminder” text, don’t just remind, but actually ask patients to confirm their appointment—which the patient can easily do by texting back a single letter (like “c” or “y.”)

Incidentally, this also gives your patient an equally easy way to let you know if they can no longer make their appointment, and significantly increases the chances that they’ll let you know with more than enough time for you to actually fill the slot.

Another possible related option? Consider offering telemedicine as an option for certain types of appointments. A patient that might otherwise cancel (or not make the appointment in the first place) might be open to a “virtual” visit instead.

Establish a Great Online Presence

Did you know that nearly three quarters of patients are using the internet to research their condition and find healthcare information, and two thirds or more use the internet to help choose a specific provider?

Long story short: if your website is old (or maybe even nonexistent), you’re not on social media (or not actively engaging with it), and you’re not actively courting positive online reviews, you can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines. You are losing out on new business to competitors who are using these tools to attract more new patients—and convince them of their professionalism.

For practices with a larger budget, hiring a full-time digital marketer can be a spectacular investment. You may also consider partnering with a web developer and/or digital marketing agency that specializes in podiatry marketing. (If you need a recommendation, check our list of corporate partners.)

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

You went to school for a long time. By the end of residency, you’d already performed hundreds if not thousands of surgeries. You may have continued to enhance your skills through board certifications or specialty training.

Guess what? That doesn’t necessarily mean you have all the answers—especially when it comes to managing a staff or running a practice.

Even worse news—the fact that you may have already been in private practice for years or even decades doesn’t necessarily mean you have all the answers, either. A true expert in any field will tell you that the learning process never stops—not if you want to stay on top.

Your first resource when you don’t know the answer—or just wonder if there’s a better way—is to talk to your staff. Include them in brainstorming sessions, even. You may find that they have a ton of great ideas!

And if you need to look outside your own bubble for advice, constructive criticism, and critical pearls of wisdom? That’s why the AAPPM exists, of course!

We are a group of podiatric professionals—doctors, office managers, marketers, and experts in related fields—who collaborate with one another to solve the practice management problems (large and small) faced by podiatry practices today.

We’ve got a ton of resources, including up-to-date documents in our exclusive library, informative webinars and emails, mentorship opportunities, and more.

And of course, our semi-annual conferences are absolutely the best place for doctors and their teams to learn the tricks of the trade from those who have gone before—through hands-on, interactive, collaborative sessions with experts and colleagues. (Our next one is in Atlanta in May—we hope to see you there!)

Interested? Have more questions? Please feel free to review all the information on this website, or give us a call at (517) 484-1930. You can also apply for membership with the AAPPM online.