Independent primary care practices face a wide variety of new challenges in today's marketplace. Shrinking reimbursement, increased federal regulation, significant cost-control initiatives and a trend of patients choosing to seek treatment in major urban care centers have all threatened many primary care practice's profitability.
Fortunately, despite these trends, there are a number of new ways for practices to streamline their workflows and become more productive and effective. Best of all, many of these initiatives cost little or nothing at all to put in place.
For example, prescription refills are a major element of most modern practices, with a large portion of patient inquiries and inbound calls concerning prescription refills and confirmations. These events can quickly grow to monopolize the time of staff, slowing down other processes. In fact, health care billing service Kareo found that the average practice can spend anywhere from $4.00 to $15.00 for each prescription refill event.
While automating some aspects of prescription refills is possible, certain costs remain. An effective prescription policy can generate additional revenue for the practice and offset that cost. Having patients be seen every 90 days for evaluation and review of medications is a common practice that can help improve cashflow. These events can be billed with an average reimbursement of about $70.00, Kareo found.
Optimizing the patient schedule is also another initiative that can lead to improved revenue with minimal investment. As reimbursements have fallen, providers have been forced to see more patients per day, requiring greater efficiency and tighter schedules.
Depending on the nature and patient base of your practice, you will have certain distinguishable types of visits, such as those that focus on preventative care and others for acute patients. Once you have identified the certain types of visits, look at how much time each takes and what resources need to be scheduled. The scheduler can then more effectively place patients during times and in rooms that are best prepared for the specific needs.
Of course, providers always also need to be conscious of the patient experience their practice offers. In today's volatile health care environment, providers must work to retain their patient base and continually expand. The careful analysis of patient reviews can provide the necessary insight to address any potential weaknesses.