Given the rapidly changing landscape of physician reimbursement, medical providers will continue to face several challenges to the classic office practice model. The costs of overhead continue to limit physicians in large cities from readily expanding or adding a partner. The most significant of these include rent and staffing related costs. While these are technically considered fixed, these figures continue to rise at a rate that exceeds the rate of physician reimbursement. Thus many physicians find themselves working harder with less to show for it.
The recent requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to utilize an electronic medical record has also hastened the demise of the traditional office practice model. There are obvious costs included with purchasing the EMR, and subtle costs in terms of equipment, staff time and IT support that can add in a significant variable line item to the budget.
In these times, physicians can consider ways to diversify their portfolio of services as well as patient interactions that require less overhead while achieving greater efficiencies. Some of the possible avenues to address declining physician reimbursement in the office include:
- Adding Aesthetics to the practice
- Subleasing space
- Considering ancillary revenue streams
- Adding an mid-level health care practitioner.
- Providing weight loss strategies
We’ll go into these and other possible avenues in more detail in upcoming articles, but suffice to say, physicians have to be more open to alternative avenues for producing income streams.
There are ways to cut costs, offer new products or services and be more effective and efficient. That in turn can attract and welcome a much larger patient base. Offering services, procedures and programs that patients are seeking is simply smart business.
Another important area for physicians to focus on is marketing. That is a broad umbrella term which encompasses everything from a well trained staff, to ads, to direct marketing to social media outreach to public relations. Each practice has its own particular needs, but physicians who neglect marketing do so at their own peril.
A prospective patient does not chose a physician, healthcare provider, or a hospital, the same way he or she chooses a new pair of shoes, a smartphone or a new set of tires. There is a tricky balance that must be struck because a physician does not want to be viewed as though he or she is actively selling and no prospective patient wants to be sold. Patients want to see someone they trust, someone they feel is the best in the field. That’s why an individualized, well planned PR and marketing campaign is so very important to building a medical practice.
A combined approach in which physicians find ways to diversify their portfolio of services, increase their efficiency, reduce their overhead and developed tailor-made, effective marketing and PR programs will help create practices that can not only sustain in this changing environment, but also thrive.
Dr. Moshe Lewis currently serves as the Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the California Pacific Medical Center, St Luke’s Campus where he treats patients with sports injuries and chronic pain. He also has an office in Beverly Hills, CA. He can also be found at www.moshelewismd.com
Medical Practice Management
Copyright © Anthony Mora Communications 2014