12 Ways to Cut Costs and Save Money in Your Practice

Gail Garfinkel Weiss, MSW

Disclosures

September 17, 2012

In This Article

Innovative Cost-Cutting Measures

2. Consider Changes to Your Insurance Policies, or a Change of Carrier

It's possible that you're overinsured. "A lot of attention is paid to professional liability insurance," Weith notes, "but what about your business insurance? It's a good idea to get an annual checkup from a respected broker. You want enough insurance to cover your risk, but there's no reason to go beyond that."

Some insurers offer additional discounts if you have multiple policies with them, such as a homeowner's policy or auto insurance, so check to see whether that option is available to you.

3. Outsource Low-Volume and Less Profitable Procedures

Identify procedures that are expensive to offer and operate, don't "pay their rent," and take time and effort to maintain, says Dale E. Fuller, MD, a radiologist in Dallas, Texas. "Laboratory tests and x-ray are worth a look. It may be cheaper to refer patients to a service provider who does the procedure and reports the results to the referring physician."

It also may be worthwhile to hire a consultant to analyze the operating costs and profits for individual procedures or service lines in order to see which ones you may want to outsource. Equipment takes up space, and not having to keep or maintain it could open you up for other profit opportunities.

4. Collect Copayments and Deductibles Before Seeing Patients

Billing patients for copays and deductibles is costly. It eats into staff time; requires postage and stationery; and if you need to send the account to a collection agency, you'll pay a percentage of the income to the agency. You can cut down on billing and collection costs by collecting these charges before seeing the patient.

Peter Bentivegna, MD, a plastic surgeon in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, uses his computer access to insurance companies to track copays and deductibles before patients' visits. "Patients are informed of their copay and deductible responsibilities when making appointments, and a note is put in their computer file to remind the secretary to collect the required fees at the time of service. This eliminates the billing costs for monies we will never see and has improved our cash flow," says Bentivegna.

5. Let Patients Schedule Their Own Appointments

With online appointment scheduling, you can reduce support staff's phone time and provide a way for patients to request appointments at any time of the day or night, says consultant Derek Kosiorek, a senior consultant with the Medical Group Management Association Healthcare Consulting Group. "Currently, you need a third-party application to offer this service, but ultimately it will be a built-in function of all electronic health records (EHRs)," he adds.

John Machata, MD, a family physician in Rhode Island, uses AppointmentQuest (www.appointmentquest.com). He says, "I pay $21.99 at month, but bigger practices might prefer a slightly fancier version that offers an opportunity to tailor messages to patients. Patients love that they get immediate confirmation via email and a reminder 2 days before their appointments. It pays for itself many times over when you think of staff costs."

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