You can’t open a paper, flip on a television or pull up your preferred news app without being bombarded with the phrase “rising cost of healthcare.” For those of us in the healthcare field, this concern is nothing new. After all, physicians have been navigating the costs of healthcare since the first day of med school. Not to mention, running your own private practice comes with its own fair share of financial concerns. But, as government mandates tighten purse strings and insurance changes force patients to become more cognizant of costs, private practices are under increased pressure to significantly decrease spend.
Luckily, there are several ways physicians can reduce costs without sacrificing quality of care. Here are our top three suggestions:
1. Manage Staff Inefficiencies
As with most businesses, employee costs often represent the most significant expense of a private practice. While no one wants to consider cutting hours or downsizing staff, it may be necessary to restructure your practice. Take time to consider inefficiencies within your everyday operation. Are your employees doing the job they were hired for, or are responsibilities in other areas preventing them from handling the work you’re paying them to do?
For example, a nurse’s salary can be a large investment for a practice. If a nurse is spending too much time keeping up with administrative duties like data entry, this is not an efficient use of your spend. In this case, you may need to consider hiring additional office personnel, re-evaluating current office employees or investing in better automation technology.
2. Improve Care Coordination Process
An efficient team is an aligned team. However, while you may have processes in place to keep your staff cooperating, you may want to consider methods for keeping patients in the loop.
Taking time to engage with patients is proven to result in better outcomes for everyone involved. If a patient better understands their responsibility in their care plan, they are less likely to face a worsening condition or repeated issue. Additionally, more time spent talking to patients allows physicians greater insight into concerns, and a better chance of providing the appropriate treatment quickly and efficiently. By handling patient concerns the first time around, both you and your patients can reduce your spend.
3. Regularly Review Medical Device Spend
When you work in a hospital or clinic environment, you don’t have a lot of control over which vendors you work with and which products you use. While you may voice your opinion as part of a value analysis committee, someone else makes the final call. When you work for or own your own practice, however, you can exercise greater control.
To make the most of your spend, take time to consider the value of various medical devices. Are there less expensive or more efficient alternatives? Using an instant topical anesthetic for sutures and other minor surgical procedures, for example, can save you from incurring costs spent on injectable anesthetics, such as additional needles and sharps disposal. Additionally, utilizing a product that works instantly means less downtime during simple procedures, which equates to a shorter wait time for patients and the ability to care for a higher number of patients each day.
It’s no secret healthcare costs are projected to continue rising over the next few years. However, by taking time to evaluate staff efficiency, involving patients in the care coordination process and regularly re-evaluating your medical device spend, you can reduce costs without diminishing the level of care you provide your patients.
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