Practice Operations Health Check: Get ’er Done Before 2020!
Wednesday, August 21, 2019 9:00 AM
I keep this quote on my wall because it reminds me to stay focused on the important stuff and to “get things done.” I think many of us struggle with seemingly urgent emails, unexpected patient issues, and daily challenges — all of which rob us of our productivity. However, at the end of the day, our customers (patients, physicians, staff, clients, and vendors) expect us to deliver results.
Part of meeting these customer expectations includes ensuring annual operational goals are reached. As we enter the homestretch of 2019, you may be stressed about hitting these targets. Don’t fret — there is still time to review key practice areas and get everything done on time! With that said, I recommend spending the remainder of this year focusing on the practice areas outlined below.
Compliance training. For financial, legal, and operational reasons, it is vital that your practice is compliant. Take a moment to ensure this by reviewing the questions below.
- Is your practice current on OSHA; HIPAA; and Fraud, Waste, and Abuse compliance training?
- If you accept Medicare assignment, do you routinely check the OIG Exclusion List, have updated Medicare forms, and possess a compliance plan?
- Does your practice conduct a billing and coding chart audit every one to two years?
- Are you participating in the MIPS reporting program?
Even if you believe your practice is 100 percent compliant in all areas, new and seasoned employees should be trained once a year on related regulations and procedures. Doing so will ensure nothing new or important slips through the cracks.
Clinical operations. As technology evolves, patients expect practices to use text messages, email, and social media to create a more convenient experience. Make sure your practice is up to date by asking yourself the following questions:
- Are your systems capable of making patient recalls, appointment reminders, and referral tracking?
- Does your back-office electronic health record (EHR) technology allow you to conduct time studies and track patient flow within the office?
If your practice is lagging behind these technological advancements, take time to diagnose the problem and make clinical operations more efficient. Consider conducting time studies and meeting with your team members to brainstorm solutions for bottlenecks within the practice. Remember that one of the most powerful tools to improve clinical operations is staff training. Having a well-educated staff creates efficiencies and increases workflow.
Financial compliance. To manage your finances properly and make informed business decisions, you need to be analyzing your numbers. This begs the following questions:
- Do you feel confident with your practice’s financial reporting?
- Do you create/receive a monthly packet that demonstrates the practice’s overall fiscal health?
If not, start working to create a standard monthly packet that includes an income (profit and loss) statement, a balance sheet, monthly benchmarking report, accounts receivable aging report, and provider productivity. If your practice manages product inventory (i.e., cosmetic sales, retina drugs, lab supplies), provide monthly status updates on the management of these services/materials, as well. Ideally, all this will help provide a snapshot of the practice’s financial standing.
Once you determine operational areas of focus, put these items into an action plan that provides a clear outline of next steps. The tasks detailed in this plan will allow leaders to track the person(s) responsible for each step, provide a timeline for task completion, and record project status updates. After your action plan is solidified, distribute copies to key players and practice physicians. Then, use the plan as a tool by which you can hold team members accountable, utilizing weekly or monthly check-ins. When your people “get things done,” celebrate! You have finally stopped thinking about a task and actually got ’er done. Ten points for everyone!