Thinking of starting an independent practice or small clinic with one of two physicians? There are a few details that healthcare providers should consider before making this jump.
The American Medical Association reports that there are now more doctors working as employees in the country than there are independent practitioners. Nonetheless, an increasing number of healthcare providers feel that employment in hospitals and health systems has fallen short of expectations.
According to some studies, independent healthcare professionals, particularly those working in small practice, may actually experience less burnout. Perhaps this is because of their higher levels of autonomy, more in-depth patient connections, shorter workdays and (sometimes) better work environments. However, the size and specialization of independent practices can vary across the nation.
However, Healthcare providers can leave their jobs for a variety of reasons. In fact, many just desire a better work-life balance. Other reasons include feeling like just a number in some of the large health systems. Often in these cases they have little influence on system-wide decisions. They may also feel like they have little control or autonomy in their workplace.
If health professionals have an entrepreneurial spirit, then perhaps adventuring out on their own and starting a solo practice is an achievable goal. However, when thinking about branching out on your own, there are many details that need to be considered.
With this in mind, here are 10 tips for healthcare practitioners who are considering striking out on their own.
1. Get Help with the Billing Requirements:
Health professionals are genuinely taking their future into their own hands if you attempt to do it on your own. Unlike working in a larger, established practice or system; their will likely not be as many processes in place. For example, an independent provider or small practice may be forced to permanently close their doors due to a single billing error or administrative blunder.
For instance, providers lack the legal right to file invoices and collect payment for your services if ERISA rules are not followed. It is often best practice to find a revenue cycle management or billing company that specializes in working with small to medium-sized practices. An experienced medical billing company can help providers with tasks such as selecting practice management software, credentialing as well as navigating payment compliance rules.
2. Financial Policy for Patients:
Patients should pay their copayment and deductible at the time of care, as specified in their health insurance plan. Additionally, documentation should expressly state that patients are accountable for any sums that their insurance plan fails to cover. Smaller practices need to adhere to this rule. Financial issues may develop over time if a consistent financial strategy is not followed.
3. Provide Preventive Services:
Individuals who practice internal medicine and primary care should prepare to manage chronic conditions. This can apply to both the Medicare annual wellness appointment and the Medicare first preventive physical examination.
Some practices ignore these services and lose out on a significant source revenue. They should have a systematic procedure in place that allows them to annually reschedule their patients who are eligible of this service.
4. Use Telehealth Services:
Although telemedicine was not as common before the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of this technology has undoubtedly increased. Yet, some medical professions have used this technology more frequently than others.
Some telemedicine software systems enables providers to charge patients to reserve their appointment before receiving treatment. Practices need to find the right tools that will meet the needs of their patients and decide if their specialty is one that could benefit from telehealth. In addition, providing telemedicine services can provide more flexibility in scheduling and delivering services to patients.
5. Use Secure Communication Tools:
People are now accustomed to, and even anticipate, receiving some type of text-based appointment reminder. Some patients prefer to have the option to text their doctor with medical inquiries. The likelihood that a new practice will attract and keep patients will likely increase if it offers this communication option to patients. Access and patient engagement are crucial for success.
Offering encrypted texting as a way for patients to communicate with healthcare providers, as well as receive appointment reminders. In this way, less time will is spent on the phone by practitioners and office staff. Ultimately, everyone will gain by replying when time allows.
6. Optimize the Use of Our Staff:
Have your practice’s nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) use their full medical credentials and medical knowledge. This means that they can accomplish some of the tasks that you would typically perform.
Maximizing contributions from a practice’s NPs and PAs is a more effectively use of your team. NPs and PAs, along with clinical assistants, may be allowed to authorize prescriptions on your behalf and can always act as your proxy for prescription refills, depending on the laws of your state. Using your team to assist with pharmaceutical prescription and refill requests is another you can save time.
7. Appointment Scheduling and Patient Forms:
Practices should strive to offer all of their patients access to online scheduling tools. These same tools can also provide intake and office visit forms in a convenient online format. The goal is for these tools to empower patients to schedule appointments and fill out forms when they have the time.
The adoption of online tools should also reduce the number of phone calls that your practice receives. Currently, there are a variety of scheduling and intake tools available, ranging from free to paid solutions.
8. Become Comfortable with Learning New Things:
Providers in solo and small practice settings need to have the ability to multi-task. They will now have to take care of tasks that they likely in their previous position never had to worry about. Hiring staff, office maintenance, marketing, software vendors, etc.
The to do list is actually quite long. Independent providers and small practices need to wear many hats. However, eventually procedures, tasks and responsibilities become more organized and routine.
9. Consider Automating Patient Collections:
Healthcare professionals want to avoid having negative interactions with their patients. Yet, missing or late payments can strain this relationship. Possible solutions are to develop payments options that accepts a variety of payment sources. Otherwise, over the long term, a practice’s aged accounts could start to create issues.
In order to make it simple for patients to make monthly payments, practices should obtain credit card information. Provide various options for patients to pay on the day of their visit. Practices can also develop ways for patients to make subsequent payments. All of this information should be included in the patient financial policy form.
10. Healthcare Reputation Management:
Providers in solo and small practice settings need to engage in social media updates. Social media is a communication tool that keeps current patients aware of your practice. Patients will find it simpler to recommend your business to their friends and family as a result.
By utilizing favorable patient evaluations and responding to both good and negative feedback, you can enhance your online reputation and search engine rating. Use consultants or staff to create online posts. This necessitates managing the online reputation of your practice.
ABCS RCM – Advanced Billing & Consulting Services delivers dedicated medical billing services.
We also offer billing services, employee management and electronic visit verification (EVV) tools for Waiver agencies that provide supports for the Ohio I-DD community.
To learn more, email or call them at 614-890-9822 or 866-460-2455.
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