One of the exciting things about a new year is in determining what changes one will make in his/her personal and business life. Will 2019 be ‘business as usual’ for you? Are there any changes and/or improvements that you are planning for your practice? Here are three levers that I suggest you pull to make 2019 a profitable year for your practice.
Reduce your bad debt.
Increase your patient volumes by 1 extra patient a day.
Reduce your operational costs.
Reduce your bad debt: Bad debt can be defined as that amount of money that your practice is owed and is unlikely to be paid. This may be due to the fact that as a practice you do not have a system for debt collection, or whoever owes the practice, does not have the money to pay due to various reasons. When I ask practice managers and/or practice owners (i) who owes them money, (ii) how much they are owed, and (iii) over what period of time, I get a straight answer for the first question and the answers to the last two questions are at best - vague. Most practitioners say they are owed by medical aids and by patients, but they are not sure how much is outstanding and for how long.
For a health practice, there is only one debtor and that debtor is the patient. Therefore the focus should always be on ensuring that patients understand that they are responsible for payments irrespective of whether they have a medical aid or not.
Example: In the table below, and taking into consideration that the average practice has bad debt of 10% of practice revenue, a 5% reduction of bad debt leads to a 10% increase in monthly income.
Create a patient information pamphlet informing the patients that they are responsible for payment irrespective of whether they have a medical aid or not.
Determine how much you are owed by patients and keep the debtors book active.
Develop and implement a debt collection procedure for your practice.
Increase Patient Volumes by 1 extra patient a day : The primary responsibility of any health practitioner is health prevention, education and promotion. Therefore a mechanism to increase your prevention, education and promotion activities will improve the numbers of patients visiting your practice. The table below illustrates what 1 extra patient a day can do for your practice.
Where do you start to get this one extra patient a day? Start with the patient folders in your filing system.
Arrange your files into two broad groups (i) an active group (all patients that have visited the practice in the past 12 months), (ii) an inactive group (patients that have not visited the practice for more than 12 months).
Compile a categorized health profile for the active patients and establish and implement a regular communication programme for each category of this group.
All the patients that you see from today – book them in for a future dated follow up appointment.
Reduce your Operational Costs : Reduction of your operational costs is one of the easiest levers to pull. See the impact in the table below.
Compile a list of all your fixed and variable costs for the past 12 months for each month
Choose the costs that you can eliminate and / or reduce (as an example – aim for 10%)
Implement and monitor the cost reduction programme and targets
These high level examples illustrate a few of the levers and focus areas that drive practice development and revenue growth.