Seven Ways to Add Revenue to Your Optometry Practice; Smart Work Over Hard Work
The reason practices has been suffering from revenue issues is due to to a variety of factors. These factors range from the growth in the strictness of regulations, constant changes in the payment and reimbursement models, and declining wages to some medical practitioners. Other than these recurring problems, medical billing issues like reimbursement delays, the administrative burden due to some management processes, and inaccurate coding cause a load on the healthcare practice segment.
The already tight schedule of running a practice every day entails enormous responsibility on the staff. Boosting revenue is an important goal and a significant challenge, yet, forcing staff to overload themselves to achieve this goal would lead to inefficiency. They already possess numerous duties such as maintaining records of all patients, calling patients regularly for reminders, setting up their appointments at various hours, answering queries, revenue cycle management, and meeting and treating patients.
To combat this difficulty, there are many ways that a technology-based world offers, along with some handy tricks to not add to the already full plate of work and still enhance productivity. They are as follows:
- Go for Automation
Technology is here, and it is here to take our troubles away! Yes, it is foolish to opt for traditional, tedious, and effort-demanding ways over the automated ways IT has blessed us with. So, how to incorporate technology into day-to-day medical practices? Well, many platforms today provide automated communication to reaching out to potential, past, or present customers without putting effort into it.
All one requires is to allow the platform access to the database. The technology then sends messages, reminders, promotional e-mails, and appointment alerts to the clients. Taking over such tasks manually creates a workload that ultimately hinders the quality of work. After all, what is the use of pouring blood and sweat into the promotion of medical practice if the quality of the medical procedure is not up to the mark?
Another fascinating aspect about incorporating automated processes is that with enhancement in its features to make the experience more user-friendly, such platforms allow online communication, thus saving time and increasing revenue.
- Renegotiate Contracts for Payment
Payer contracts define and explain in-depth an arrangement for the reimbursement of healthcare providers (clinics, individual providers, hospitals, etc.) for providing services to the people under specific healthcare plans.
A better and more ethical way to generate more revenue, which often gets unnoticed, is to renegotiate these payer contracts. Suppose you think your clinic has provided economical healthcare services to the public with high quality and can show data to back this claim. In that case, you are eligible to negotiate a higher reimbursement than you currently receive. All you need to do is identify your worth and potential.
This method will enable a steady increase in revenue without putting effort.
- Back-up for Last-Minute Cancellations
It is a known fact that many clients cancel at the last minute, leaving the medical practitioners with an empty slot without any client back-up. These precious work-hours might seem small initially but can accumulate to form a heavy loss to the revenues. A typical response to this problem is to frantically go on making calls to fill up the slot to save time and money. Although, a common step is, unfortunately, not synonymous with efficiency.
The right way to go on about this issue is to send out a mass message to an already created and regularly modified database of patients. This message should highlight the availability of the slot and should ask for revert back as soon as possible to fill it in. Doing so will take merely a couple of minutes as compared to calling them one by one. The slot will most likely fill up soon as well.
Another method is to have a cancellation policy. It is common knowledge to both workers and patients that canceling appointments will cost time and money and maybe detrimental to someone’s health, who might not have been able to book the appointment before the person canceling it. Thus, it is controversial but advisable to have the patients sign a cancellation policy that, if they cancel the appointment, say less than 12 hours before the appointment, they will have to pay a fee to respect the clinic’s time and obligations. One must take a follow-up in case of cancellations to assess the reasons.
- Reduction in Missed Appointments
Apart from cancellations, missed appointments are another headache for the clinics. When the patients do not show up for the slots they are due for, they are known as “no shows.” In some ways, they are worse than canceled appointments as no prior notice is given, leading to a lack of time to refill the slot.
Even though it is nearly impossible to avoid every missed appointment, there are some ways to ensure that most clients show up. What are these ways?
- Reminders on Different devices- Some clients are more inclined to respond to a telephonic reminder, while others are more likely to see a text or an e-mail.
- Identify the Regular No-Shows- Identify and keep a check on the clients who regularly miss an appointment, communicate with them about this topic, identify any challenges in the experience, and overcome them.
- Reward System- Maintain a system of points based on the patient patterns that could be redeemed after some time in different forms- flexible appointments, waiving off emergency cancellation fees, or even certain discounts and coupons. Doing so will significantly reduce carelessness on the part of the patients.
Do not book the appointments way too early for a future date, say no more than 12 months before the day of the appointment. This increases the chances of missed appointments due to a lack of memory retention.
- Telehealth Visits
What is the most important additive to any medical practice’s revenue? Patients. So, the key is to get more patients in a day without putting in much effort. Telehealth visits in between appointments and after-hours are the solution. Many patients do not make an appointment or even miss/cancel the appointment due to a busy schedule, geographical barriers, time barriers, or an emergency.
If these patients get an option of a telehealth visit, if the reason behind the appointment is to solve specific queries, ask for recommendations, or take a follow-up, they are more likely to adhere to the appointment virtually. This practice saves effort and time for both the doctor and the patient. The option of virtual visits can be facilitated via some a system specially built for medical practices; wherein there is a platform for easy and convenient communication, be it on text (for small queries) or video calls.
- Promote Online!
If your practice does not have as many patients to fill in missed or canceled appointments and cannot maximize potential, marketing is of utmost importance. Word of mouth is a commonly adopted, reliant, and cheap practice that falls short due to its slow effectiveness. So, how to increase reach while not making this task heavy on the staff? Go Online!
Online Promotion does not require excessive efforts or cost and leads to a plethora of opportunities, be it geographically or across different demographics like age, sex, and nationality. Successful online marketing strategies for a healthcare practice could be:
- Creating a user-friendly website for easy booking of appointments and in-depth information about the clinic’s history, achievements, and working.
- Posting blogs and articles with proper search engine optimization.
- Informative content creation on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms to target a varied audience.
- Providing a feedback and rating portal visible to the public ensures quality with first-hand positive reviews.
- Posting about the programs launched by the clinic to pique the interests of the viewers.
Many tools allow users to post on multiple platforms at one go, assuring them efficiency in posting.
- Efficient Schedule Management
Schedules are essential to effective and efficient practice, especially in medicine. Clinics are usually chaotic every day and require uniformity to extract revenue to its full potential. Schedules allow the entire staff’s mental and physical preparation, with no new surprises leading to tiredness. It brings much-needed strategy to our work.
So, how to carry out excellent schedule management? Start with maintaining a calendar, shared with all to be on the same page without confusion. Use an all in one automated electronic health record system to fill in the appointments, create alerts, connect the calendar with the to send reminders, keep a backup database linked to the calendar, and write down the purpose of appointments as well. Add meetings with stakeholders, medical programs, and even personal commitments to the calendar. Maintaining a schedule will also avoid double bookings by mistake to ensure satisfied customer service.
So, the ways mentioned above rely on smart work instead of hard work, the mantra to survive in this competitive world without wasting time, often synonymous with wasting money, on non-fruitful tasks. It is crucial to deliver a consistent and high-quality service to the audience and ensure that effort does not go into vain and revenue is added to justify the work done.
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