12 Ways to Cut Costs and Save Money in Your Practice

Gail Garfinkel Weiss, MSW


September 17, 2012

In This Article

Small Changes Can Make Big Savings

6. Save Staff Phone Time by Using a Patient Portal

Patient portals, which are Web-based applications that enable patients to interact with your office, are not only convenient for patients but also save staff time. The portals allow your patients to receive medical records and test results electronically, request appointments and medication refills, send communications, and view statements. "A patient portal can decrease call volume, postage, and copying expenses," says Chastity D. Werner, Jerrie Weith's colleague at AMD Health Care Services. Werner adds that portals typically require a set-up charge and monthly maintenance fees, but the return on investment is realized quickly.

Be sure to list your hours and locations in your patient portal, says Derek Kosiorek, who has seen several practice Websites that only have a portal for established patients to log in and view their records. "The Website is for new patients, too," he says. "If you make your intake documents available for download, first-time patients can print them on their own paper and bring them in."

7. Get Useful Consulting Advice at a Lower Price

An outside consultant can analyze your practice objectively and make recommendations for new strategies and ways to become more profitable. However, if your practice is financially strapped, the cost of bringing in a consultant -- which can run to several thousand dollars -- might be prohibitive.

Frank Weinstock, MD, an ophthalmologist in Canton, Ohio, notes that some hospitals provide consulting help at no charge. "This should be explored first," he says. "Another thing that costs nothing is getting colleagues to objectively evaluate each other's offices." Many physicians do this as a matter of course -- but they don't share their thoughts with the other physician. "Any time that I go to a physician, I personally evaluate the efficiency and tell myself what I would do to improve it if it were my practice," says Weinstock.

Encourage staff to participate in the evaluation process, says Chastity Werner. "They're the ones who are in the trenches every day. They'll know how often they use something or whether they could do without something else."

8. Really Go Solo and Save on All Personnel Overhead

It's not for everyone, and there are some definite downsides, but this approach eliminates all staff costs and makes use of computer software and technology to accomplish most of the functions that staff would typically perform.

After 15 years working at busy health centers, John Machata formed what he calls a "micropractice" near Providence, Rhode Island. His description: "No secretary. No nurse. Low overhead. I'm subletting 2 rooms from another doctor, using online medical histories, and communicating with patients via encrypted email." Machata set up a Website using Weebly (www.weebly.com). "It's easy and free; I got it up and running in one day," he says.