Starting a practice is hard, but keeping a successful practice going is even harder. Much like any business, your “edge” is the key to success. I always like the reference to, “what’s your edge”? If you read any of Mark Cuban’s books or blogs, he always stresses that the differentiator between you and everybody else is your “edge”. Finding it, keeping it and building it is the key to maintaining a successful business.
Unfortunately, “edge” is somewhat intangible. The beauty however, is that each person can define “edge” their own way. Many may already know what it is, either through specialized study, area of focus or even location! For those who have not, below are 5 tips to try and master to build & sustain your practice/business:
1. Set Goals – seems simple, right? Setting the right goals can be not only a challenging task, but a demanding one as well. Your goals should be oriented from short-term to long-term, becoming progressively more challenging the further out you go. Along the way, make sure to always track progress towards your goals and adjust, if necessary.
2. Use metrics & data – there is more data available than one could possibly ever need; leverage it to your advantage. Use data to help you become smarter in your specialty, or more knowledgeable about advancements in your field. Likewise, find a program that can deliver high-value metrics to help you evaluate quantitatively. Above all else, use these metrics to track progress towards your goals!
3. Understand the insurance landscape – insurance is getting more complex. There isn’t a day which goes by where I don’t see this. What’s worse, I see how it impacts healthcare providers, creating a more stressful environment for reimbursement and payment. Did you know that Florida Blue is cutting rates for mental health providers by 30% in October? Did you also know that Florida Blue is one of the more profitable of the “Blues” organizations and is the most profitable insurer in the state of Florida? There is one school of thought that by lowering reimbursement rates or restricting access to provider networks, the ripple effect is more patients will go out-of-network for services or pay cash, thus reducing the burden on the payor.
The bottom line is that dealing with insurance can be a challenge, but also a tremendous asset. Take out-of-network (OON) benefits, for example. If done correctly, accepting OON benefits can be a tremendous asset to your practice. And guess what, these can be billed just like any in-network claim, regardless if you are using a billing company or billing yourself. Just knowing the nuances and how to leverage insurance to improve your practice can give you a tremendous edge.
4. Simplify your business functions – stop using multiple systems to do your insurance billing. Don’t use an excel spreadsheet and QuickBooks together. Put down the pen & paper and just use an EHR. These are just a few examples of how to simplify the functions of your business to make your business lean, efficient and adaptable. Being adaptable might be the most important attribute listed, because the only constant in business is change.
5. It’s all about relationships – it doesn’t matter if it’s with your clients, networking community, or external business vendors; maintaining relationships is so critical. And it’s so simple, almost as simple sometimes as picking up the phone or responding to an email. The foundation of that relationship will help you in unknown ways, but it will help you.
Any business, and especially a healthcare practice, can benefit from these 5 tips. I’ve tried to keep it general, because each person will interpret their own meaning and ways of accomplishing their goals. If any of my tips help, then my mission is accomplished.