The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is founded on the premise that the expansion of primary care services will both improve the American public's health while helping to constrain the cost escalation of healthcare overall, which is estimated to be a staggering 19.5% of the gross national product (GNP) by 2017. In addition, provisions of the act will likely increase reimbursement for primary care practices.
Heightened interest and enhanced payments are a welcome change for the beleaguered primary care medical community. For years, its reimbursements have lagged behind those of specialty practices. The health care act’s provisions — including insurance coverage for children up to age 26, funded screenings and exams, and subsidized insurance pools, to name a few — are all coming into play. These changes are a lifeline to a vital but endangered area of medicine that appeared to be on its last legs.
Here are seven ways to build your primary care practice’s revenue, while also offering your patients additional and beneficial health care services.
- Extend Practice Hours: Offering evening and weekend office appointments will likely heighten patient satisfaction and attract new patients. Reorganizing physician and support staff schedules to accommodate extended hours will require extra effort, but the change should help build a larger, more satisfied, and loyal patient panel (Click here to learn how to hire and implement physician extenders).
- Offer More Timely Appointments: Provide same-day or short-wait appointments to patients who need prompt unanticipated attention. If you’re not providing this option, rest assured that competing practices are doing so — and are perhaps capturing potential patients or worse…your actual patients!
- Maximize Your Marketing: Simple, low-cost marketing activities abound and an easy way help stimulate revenue. For instance, develop a patient satisfaction survey and modify your practice’s behavior based on the results. Also consider conducting health fairs and screening days for your patients, as well as sending them periodic practice news and health tips via e-mail. Is one of your physicians in a leadership role at your medical society? If so, publicize their activities in your marketing pieces and the local media.
- Offer New Or Expanded Services: Successful practices create multiple revenue streams. For example, you may want to add services such as:
- Developmental pediatric screening
- Joint Injections
- Simple-fracture care
- Pulmonary-function-test interpretation
- In-office laboratory testing
It’s often possible to add such services while incurring relatively low capital expenses. Meanwhile, you’re providing more convenience to your patients and generating additional revenue.
- Delegate Care As Appropriate: Maximize your staff’s talents to the full extent of their licensed capabilities. Allowing professional non-physician staff members a greater range of patient care helps extend physician-patient time and makes work more responsibly satisfying for employees.
- Add Patient Visits To The Physician's Day: Careful scheduling and efficient time management should make it possible to add one or two patient visits to the average physician’s workday — without greatly increasing the doctor’s total work week. The revenue rewards of this change can be very significant.
- Manage Overhead: Revenue enhancement is a critical route to success, but don’t forget that saving a dollar of expense is just as helpful as earning a dollar of increased revenue. Review your fixed and variable expenses carefully and often.
By reducing the medical insurance premiums primary care physicians pay for their employees, the healthcare act’s upcoming medical insurance exchanges development for small businesses might offer one important way of shaving expenses for smaller practices.
Formidable, Yet Feasible
Given the developments in Washington, a more supportive primary care environment is taking shape. Practices that take steps now to expand revenue, while increasing patient convenience and services, could attain a level of success not possible in years past.