What makes a successful medical practice? A recent study found that 24% of US medical practices are experiencing substantial growth and fall into the category of “high performers.” (http://www.physicianspractice.com/career/5-habits-high-performing-medical-practices) So what sets these practices apart from others in the $2.7 trillion US health care industry who may be falling behind? Here are five areas that successful practices focus on.

1. Strategic Planning

A strategic plan involves developing a vision for the practice and determining how to achieve that vision. These plans outline procedures, priorities, and action items that will help a practice meet those goals. But the plan itself isn’t enough. Better-performing medical practices take the time to evaluate the plan and to follow it. Strategic plans should be updated annually, as well.

2. New Affiliation Models

Resources should be dedicated to staying abreast of new affiliation models. This can be done through internal resources or consultants. It’s important to stay on top of the newest models in horizontal (single specialty) and vertical (hospital and health systems) spaces. The industry is seeing a lot of single specialty roll-ups and consolidation in the market, as well as collaborative care modeling via joint ventures with hospitals and health systems. Keeping up-to-date with what is happening in the industry is vital.

3. Outsourcing Opportunities

Successful practices are seeing greater ROI from outsourcing some of the core service functions like accounting, human resource management, procurement, revenue cycle, etc.. This allows them to access experts who are solely focused on billing, human resources, revenue cycles, accounting, and consulting. Jobs for support roles like medical billing and coding specialist have grown at a rate of 20% a year. (http://centuracollege.edu/blog/how-much-does-medical-billing-and-coding-specialist-make/) Outsourcing these fundamental services lets the physicians concentrate on caring for patients and leaves the admin to the experts.

4. Culture

Medical practices that exhibit a culture where both physicians and staff are more productive and provide incentives for optimal productivity, compliance and quality initiatives tend to achieve better financial performance. These practices are seeking to continuously improve. They also tend to create attractive incentive and rewards models for physicians, mid-levels, and staff. A successful practice maintains a culture focused on compliance and improvement of all aspects of the facility (best practices, workers, technology, facilities, and advisors). It invests in the resources needed to maximize quality and productivity. This kind of culture isn’t achieved by a simple yearly meeting, but a focus on implementing these ideas as a culture shift and focus.

5. IT Solutions

Technology has been a key focus in medical practices for years, and it’s only getting more important. Successful practices proactively utilize IT solutions to meet demand. The IT environment that enables most ancillary equipment to be interfaced with the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system. Any time a practice can automate a manual function (ie printing a spirometer study report that will need to be scanned into the EMR) it enhances the overall efficiency. IT brings constant opportunities for improvement to medical practices, and the most successful ones keep up with the latest technology. For example, Intel is predicting telemedicine users to increase to 3,200,000 by the end of this year. (https://nrchealth.com/resource/healthcare-forecast-2017-top-trends-driving-board-strategic-priorities/) Practices with telehealth services will be better able to serve those patients.

The $2.7 trillion health care industry is changing rapidly. New innovations in technology, best practices, and operations open new doors that allow medical practices to better serve patients in a timely and productive manner. High-performing practices focus on key areas of opportunity and growth in order to stay on top of the newest trends, remain organized, and maintain a culture of quality and compliance. These practices think, organize, and operate efficiently and strategically.