3 Small Changes to Dramatically Boost Your Bottom Line
When Performance Spine and Sports Medicine opened its first office in New Jersey in 2009, the sports medicine clinic was off to a successful start. Patient numbers were steadily growing–a good sign business was burgeoning–yet revenue numbers weren't shifting to reflect that growth.
"The staff was busier, but our collection of revenues wasn't going up in proportion to the rise in patients," says Percy Naranjo, CEO of the practice, and a PNC customer.
Naranjo, who came to the job with nine years of Wall Street banking experience, knew there had to be a way to run the practice more smoothly. He assessed his staff numbers, shifted how claims were processed, and created a follow-up system to keep patients coming back.
In that first year of changes, Naranjo saw revenue more than double, creating a model the business replicated at future satellite offices.
Making minor adjustments to the way your small business is run can result in dramatic growth of your bottom line. Below are three key steps that Naranjo took that can also help your business see impressive growth.
1. Reassess your staffing numbers.
Once Naranjo realized his billing team was processing more patients, but the bottom-line wasn't budging, he knew he had to take a step back and reassess the situation. Did they have enough staff to meet the amount of claims coming in or was there a bottleneck from a staff standpoint?
To find out, Naranjo ran an exercise in the office to see how long it took billers to process a claim. He quickly discovered the amount of claims coming through the office far surpassed the bandwidth of the office's two full-time billing staffers.
"An employee's enthusiasm can't overcome the physical limitations they have," Naranjo says. Once the practice added three more people to its billing team, bringing the total number to five, they were able to better handle the volume of claims coming in.
Today, with five offices in total, the practice has a billing staff of 12. "The system has to have enough structure so it can expand and contract," he says.
2. Prioritize your team's work flow.
Adding more people to the billing staff wasn't a silver bullet, of course. The practice also needed to figure out a workflow to help process claims more effectively. In traditional medical billing, claims are submitted in chronological order. But that often means bigger claims resulting in greater revenue end up at the bottom of the pile. Naranjo decided to take a page from his Wall Street days and create a process similar to the way the New York Stock Exchange is run.
To do this, he developed a prioritization system that determined which claims were most valuable to help maximize the amount of time a biller invested in them. Rather than processing claims in chronological order, he developed an internal Excel algorithm that guided billers on how to prioritize their time.
"Now, instead of taking a broad approach for billings, our team is very focused on size of claims, time spent on claims, and the volume of the claims," Naranjo says.
3. Learn how to keep customers coming back.
It wasn't just upping staff numbers and processing claims more efficiently that led to steady business growth. Naranjo also realized that the company was losing a lot of potential business from existing clients who didn't follow through on their care plan. He found that while the number of new patients coming in was steady, the practice was having a harder time getting patients in for their final handful of appointments.
"We had no system in place that allowed providers to see which patients were coming down to their last visits to complete their care plan," Naranjo says. As a result, many patients who started to feel better didn't bother to finish their treatment plan and stopped scheduling later appointments. Yet, the point of keeping them coming back is to ensure they stay healthy and receive the maximum benefit from their care plan.”
"Patients are only able to place three to four visits on their calendars," he says. "The challenge was how to get them to the tenth, eleventh and twelfth visits."
To do so, the practice created an internal patient retention system that notifies staff when patients are coming down to their last few visits so they can make a point of getting them to schedule new future appointments. "In the medical world, getting patients to finish their plan of care is challenging. That's how you create a powerful multiplier effect," he says. "It's about giving employees the proper tools they need to make sure patients are sticking to their plan of care."
Creating these built-in systems not only helped the practice run more efficiently, it also allowed the business to expand and open new offices, now totaling five in the region. "You can't manage what you can't measure," Naranjo says.
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