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No practice administrator likes to lay off staff, so what can you do to keep them and their benefits?

When medical practice expenses creep too far into revenue, often a knee-jerk reaction is to cut staff. No practice administrator likes to lay off staff, so what can you do to keep them and their benefits? Find new ways to increase revenue. We've got 15 you can try:

  1. Place an ideas box in a well-trafficked spot for staff to contribute their thoughts on increasing efficiency and productivity. Discuss the ideas in a meeting, and choose one a month to implement. Promote healthy competition among staff by rewarding the employee with the winning idea.
  2. Convert paper explanation of benefits to an electronic format to save time on data entry.
  3. Renegotiate with vendors. To keep your business, vendors will find creative ways to save you money while still delivering value.
  4. Work with a group purchasing organization to lower supply costs by bundling your purchases. Also, be aware of how much product you're using and when so you avoid overstocking.
  5. Reorganize the business office by functional area, such as claims, denials, follow-up and posting. This will help you define processes and best practices for each.
  6. Add one more patient per day to your physician's schedule. "If a practice can see one more patient a day, it can add $25,000 to the annual bottom line for primary care (assuming $100 for a new patient visit) or $50,000 for specialty care (assuming $200 for a new patient visit)," according to Michael O'Connell's MGMA Connexion article "10 ways to manage better during difficult financial times."
  7. Renegotiate your managed care contracts using fee schedules and relative value unit data to give you an edge when bargaining.
  8. Create "standby" appointments for patients with a history of no-shows. (MGMA members: Get 13 other tips for preventing patient no-shows, a prime culprit of lost revenue.)
  9. Encourage your patients to refer their friends. Offer a small gift certificate as a thank you. The more patients who become long-term clients, the higher your revenue.
  10. Save energy by turning off unnecessary lights and installing energy-efficient light bulbs. Have employees discontinue use of screensavers, opting for turning off the screen at night instead. These small reductions in energy can add up over time, giving you back some overhead expenses.
  11. Train physicians to code correctly. Because it's the physicians who get audited, not the nurses or certified billers and coders, it's important that physicians know how to code correctly. The bonus is that they'll end up capturing all levels of codes, which will increase revenue.
  12. Re-evaluate your payer mix. If you have a flood of patients you can't see, dropping an insurance company may help. "You can positively influence your payer mix, thus improving your per-unit reimbursement, and you can gain operations benefits (by reducing the patient communications you have to handle out-of-office)," according to Mastering Patient Flow, by Elizabeth Woodcock, MBA, FACMPE, CPC.
  13. Implement an electronic health record. This tip has become a no-brainer thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  14. Start social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter. They're free and can help grow your presence online when people search for your practice. Plus, you can engage potential and current patients, increasing their satisfaction and building community, making them more likely to return.
  15. Take advantage of free or discounted online education for you and your staff. MGMA also offers free public resources and member benefits specifically for boosting revenue.

Have ideas of your own? Contribute to the comments.

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