United States: The Business Side Of Running A Medical Practice

Last Updated: July 25 2019
Article by Kevin Omahen

Providing the best care for your patients is the most important obligation on which every health care provider is focused. However, for-profit medical practices should also look for ways to run a medical practice as efficiently and effectively as possible in order to build a strong company culture and maximize profits.

Cash management

Although maintaining a certain amount of liquidity is a good idea, there are ways to put your business funds to work. You might want to consider opening a money market account to deposit your excess cash in order to earn interest on the money that you are not currently using.

Accounts receivable (AR) management is also an area that often gets overlooked and requires constant attention. These are, of course, the outstanding monies owed to the practice; but they are also a measure of how long claims are overdue. Practices need to set a target to keep the aged claims under control. Work hard to keep it down. Whether your billing department is outsourced or you have an internal staff member (or members) submitting billing, ensure that billing of claims are submitted as soon as possible. Additionally, take a look at the sophistication of your practice management system. Are you able to obtain all the reporting functions for your outstanding receivables in order to make sound financial decisions for your practice? Spending a little more on a sophisticated system could help you better understand what claims are open and manage your cash flows better.

Also, do not hurry to pay your bills. The idea here is not to intentionally miss paying bills on time, but rather to pay bills strategically so your practice can hold on to cash as long as possible. It goes without saying that you should not jeopardize your business or personal credit rating with late payments. But pay bills when they are due or just before — not after.

In addition, leasing medical equipment and your medical practice space can be more cost-effective than buying. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The right answer may depend on your location, cash flow and business credit. Also, some equipment leases allow practices to buy the asset outright at the end of the lease.

Sell yourself

Many medical practices increase business solely by word of mouth referrals from former/current patients. However, learning how to "sell yourself" is good advice for anyone running a business. To do so, a medical practice must develop a marketing mentality. This means that all aspects of your practice — how you treat patients from first contact to last, as well as ads, online activities and community presence — should have a focus on marketing.

Create a positive culture

What is distinctive about your practice? Maybe it is your specialty or unique office. Maybe your practice has a reputation for a specific characteristic or set of characteristics — no waits, friendly service, value-added perks. Create a distinguishing culture for your medical practice and develop it into a strength.

Another important aspect of this is your workplace culture. Good, reliable staff members are invaluable. Ensure that the work environment for your employees is upbeat and enjoyable. And, in addition to providing competitive pay and benefits, regularly recognize how important they are and thank them for a job well done. Patients may be coming into your practice nervous to hear a conclusion on the condition for which they are being treated. Having a warm and welcoming administrative assistant greet them and a calming nurse perform preliminary treatments goes a long way in a patient’s decision to continue using your practice. Building a positive work environment is the foundation for establishing these types of employees.

At the same time, acknowledge that your own time and energy are critical assets and an important part of the culture as well. Practicing medicine can be rewarding, but it can also challenge you mentally, physically and emotionally. Work efficiently, avoid unnecessary distractions and remember to take vacations and time off.

Run smoothly

The value of your medical practice is so much greater than a mere sum of its parts. Nonetheless, when you find ways to keep all those parts running smoothly and in harmony, you will likely see a stronger bottom line.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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