How Providers Can Recession-Proof Their Practice
By Travis Schneider, chief corporate development officer, Tebra.
Two-thirds of economists believe an economic downturn is in the pipeline for the U.S. economy. While there has been a myth that the healthcare industry is recession-proof, historically, that has not been the case. Expert reports suggest the health sector tends to be affected later during a recession and typically takes longer to bounce back.
Independently owned practices tend to see the effects more quickly than other healthcare institutions. The rising cost of medical care often delays many Americans, with nearly seven out of 10 putting off an appointment or procedure due to the cost. Independent practices must take a proactive approach to safeguard their business and continue delivering care to patients.
Invest in Practice Growth
Many businesses tend to cut expenses at the first sign of a recession, and marketing expenditures are often the first on the chopping block. However, previous recessions have proved that businesses that continued to market during times of a downturn were not only able to stay in business but also bounce back faster. As the lead generating funnel for a practice, it can be detrimental to reduce marketing efforts. Investing in practice growth technology and clinical management software are worthwhile marketing investments that will help retain a practice’s patient base, expand its market share, and attract new patients.
Retaining your practice’s existing patient base is a profitable strategy that providers should focus on. With the right software, practices can keep current patients informed and engaged by utilizing marketing email campaigns. Practice staff should monitor the success of these campaigns and use the insight to evaluate how to better encourage patients to take action. These recare reminders will increase patients’ booking of future appointments. Nurturing a frictionless end-to-end patient experience by keeping patients informed and satisfied increases the likelihood of patients staying with your practice.
Adopting a practice growth technology can be the complete operating system for optimal practice management. Practice growth starts long before the first visit; with practice growth technology, independent practices establish and leverage their web presence to help patients find their practice. Practice growth technology will show prospective patients what sets your facility apart from similar practices they may encounter in their search. The ease of online booking that practice management software allows makes your practice more enticing to most patients seeking a healthcare provider.
So, while other practices may quickly decrease marketing efforts, practices striving to be recession-proof will take advantage of the opportunity to invest in the facility and surpass the competition.
Refine Your Collection Process with Billing Software
There is so much outside of exceptional patient care that goes into running a modern, profitable practice. One of those factors is the timely collection of patient payments. If your practice is still disseminating paper statements via snail mail, now is the time to refine your practice’s collection process by adopting a billing software. While the majority of patients prefer paying their medical bills online, 90 percent of providers rely on paper bills for patient collections, which usually arrive weeks or even months after their visit. Adopting patient payment collection technology can reduce a practice’s outstanding invoices by up to 30 percent. Securing higher revenue returns is of the utmost importance during times of economic uncertainty. Providers that use billing software to distribute statements and deploy text or email reminders will mitigate lost revenue.
By adopting a medical billing solution, patients can pay their bills immediately following their visits through whichever payment option is most convenient. Additionally, an omnichannel payment collection solution can send electronic payment reminders and demonstrate the breakdown of the medical bill. This will explain to patients how much of their medical treatment was already covered by insurance and what remaining balance they owe. This makes your collections process easier for practice staff and patients alike. Implementing a billing and payment software introduces a more straightforward, more reliable collection process that will reduce late payments and deliver higher collection rates.
Diagnose and Treat Your Practice’s Needs
Ideally, before entering an economic decline, practice staff should conduct an assessment of their practice’s welfare. By examining analytics such as a practice’s website search results ranking and patient engagement, you can uncover opportunities that can provide a significant impact on your practice across revenue, reputation, and website management.
Go through this checklist to review your practice’s current strengths:
- Is your practice website driving business?
- Are you maintaining a positive, influential online reputation?
- Does your practice offer a modernized patient experience?
- Is the front office staff streamlining workflows?
- Are business performance metrics being tracked?
Objectively view your practice in comparison to other similar facilities in the marketplace. Ensure the services offered at your practice are sufficient. Ask office staff to share insights around office roles, workflows, operational strengths, and weaknesses. Feedback from various staff members can result in invaluable insights that can expose inefficiencies that providers may not have recognized, such as snags in the scheduling process. By identifying shortcomings, practices can better prepare their operations for the potential of challenging times.
Although a complete evaluation of an independent practice’s marketing efforts, collection process, and operations are time-consuming, it can offer insights that allow practices to implement strategic improvements. Now is the time for independent practices to be proactive, and enacting these strategies is a surefire way to help practices thrive in any economic climate.