Ways to Pump Up Your Bottom Line (Despite Healthcare Reform)

Leigh Page


October 25, 2012

In This Article

2. Extend Your Office Hours

If you don't want to hire more staff, another way to see more patients is to extend your office hours. According to a survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), almost one half of active members have extended hours on weekdays and almost one third offer weekend appointments.

For patients holding a 9-to-5 job, especially young parents using pediatrics practices, being able to see the doctor during off-hours is very valuable. To extend a practice's hours, physicians do not necessarily have to work longer; they merely need to stagger their hours. For example, one physician starts work in the late morning and works into the evening; another physician works 4 weekdays plus Saturday.

Because changing hours can be disruptive, Morgan advises starting with a modest change, such as making appointments available at lunchtime or opening 1 evening a week. This also helps you get an idea about the demand for off-hours. She says you might initially limit your evening patients to annual checkups, because preventive care is easier to schedule.

Morgan says you don't want your existing patients simply to shift over to the new hours, emptying out your weekday schedule. This means that extending your hours needs to be paired with a marketing campaign to bring in more patients. The campaign would highlight your extended hours. (For more details, see the item on beefing up your marketing.)

Keep in mind that extended hours may increase your overhead, and at least initially, any extra income you earn may not cover those costs. "You should stop extending your hours if you're not seeing any extra volume," advises Jess Orrick, a practice management consult in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. "If your volume is not rising, you'll be open more hours and have no extra income to show for it."