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Generating New Patients by Using Surveys

How do you market for new patients in a cost efficient and effective manner? Starting with internal marketing is always the best approach­, as it produces the most cost effective return, which is of utmost importance in managing a practice. Surveys are one method of internal marketing. But how do you go about generating new patients by using surveys?

Here’s the first tip that you can use to more effectively market: do a simple survey with all new patients who come in, in order to find out what brought them to your practice. This can be done as part of their new-patient intake forms, or the receptionist or any other designated staff member can ask the questions verbally.

We have a variety of prepared surveys for our clients to use. Here are examples of some questions you can use to create your own survey:

  • If you were referred, who referred you and what did that person say to interest you in our office?
  • If you responded to an ad, which one did you see? What about it attracted you?
  • If you responded to our website, how did you locate it and what about it interested you?

A second tip is to use surveys on your existing patient base. Start by going through your existing patient records and find about 50 of your “A-list” patients/clients. Do a demographic search of where your best patients/clients are from. Then write a survey for those patients/clients to find out:

  • what attracted them to your practice,
  • what keeps them coming back to your practice,
  • what they like the most about your practice and
  • which services, if any, they would like to receive from you that you don’t currently offer.

You can then use this information to target the greatest demographic area of your A-list patients/clients and use their survey answers as “hot buttons” in a marketing campaign targeted to generate more patients/clients who are similar to those A-list patients/clients.

This is called targeted marketing. It’s all about generating quality patients and clients, not just getting people to walk through the door. Quality patients keep their appointments, follow your treatment programs, pay their bills, spend more than their insurance allotment, etc. These are the kinds of patients/clients you want to generate for your practice.

If you can determine in which area your best patients/clients reside and what brought them to you in the first place, you can then design a marketing campaign to generate more of those types of patients and clients.

Don’t just guess at what you think will bring new patients/clients in the door. Find out what got your best patients/clients there and use that information to your advantage. “Know before you go” is the motto of all good marketing. You find out the “know” by surveying.

If you are an owner and would like free help on collecting past due accounts or any other management topic, fill out the form to your right, and we will be more than happy to assist you. Scroll to top

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If you are an owner and would like free help on collecting past due accounts or any other management topic, fill out the form below, and we will be more than happy to assist you.










12 Steps to Collect Past Due Accounts

Collecting on past due accounts is a function that the Accounts Manager will find herself/himself having to do. Any contact with a patient/client, even under these circumstances, should be kept on a friendly, professional and dignified basis. This will promote respect for the office and its business practices.

Always remember the following points with regard to your patients/clients:

  • Most people have good intentions and want to cooperate with agreements that they have made.
  • Although a person’s account may be overdue, most people still have a good intention to take care of it.
  • Most people prioritize their bills and will first pay those that they feel are most pressing.
  • Most people with past due accounts will pay those bills where someone is actively requesting them to pay.

Bearing in mind the above, your role is to arrange to be one of the creditors that your patients/clients will not delay paying. The following points may be helpful in this regard:

  1. Bill promptly every month.
  2. Ensure that your bills are accurate.
  3. Ensure that you have the original signed financial agreement from your patient/client.
  4. Contact the patient/client as soon as you realize the account has become delinquent.
  5. When you speak with the patient/client, let them know that you believe that they are able to make payment.
  6. Let the patient/client know that you expect to be paid, and refresh their memory on the signed agreement.
  7. Allow the patient/client their self-respect; never back them into a corner, insult or badger the patient/client.
  8. Explain to the patient/client that you want to help him/her work it out so that they can maintain the agreement that they made with your office.
  9. Be prepared to offer some options to the patient/client that they may not have considered.
  10. Be willing to really communicate with the patient/client so that a true understanding and agreement can be reached.
  11. If absolutely necessary, utilize the credit reporting associations. Let the patient/client know that you are planning to do so and that this will go on their credit rating.
  12. As a last resort, utilize the services of a collection agency, and let the patient/client know that you plan to do so.

If you are an owner and would like free help on collecting past due accounts or any other management topic, fill out the form to your right, and we will be more than happy to assist you. Scroll to top

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If you are an owner and would like free help on collecting past due accounts or any other management topic, fill out the form below, and we will be more than happy to assist you.










Where is Your Net Profit?

You’ve worked hard all week; the office atmosphere is rife with discipline and brisk efficiency. The staff have been getting along with one another and you are proud of the team spirit they’ve both individually and collectively demonstrated. In fact, your staff has almost read your mind and anticipated your every need. All of the patients have arrived on time for their appointments, and the majority of them have even heeded your advice and accepted your treatment plans!

Now it’s Friday afternoon; the staff has received their paychecks, which reflect production bonuses that you’ve doled out in appreciation of their contribution to the overall increase in production. But then you look at your bank balance and you’re surprised and sorely disappointed at the lack of funds left over for you. What happened?

Where is your net profit? Did you work hard all week just to earn less money? The bank balance should be going up, not down!

You wonder if it’s worth all the effort. All of that increased production might just have landed you into a “higher office-overhead/higher tax-bracket” situation. It’s that frustrating income vortex — the place where, despite producing and collecting more, you take home the same amount or less. And following a few of these “successful” weeks, you shake your head and realize that if you endure much more of that kind of success, you’ll go broke! So, what should you do?

Let’s start by taking a look at the myriad of possibilities of what might have occurred that resulted in your not having any profit for yourself:

Management Issues:

  • Could you consolidate loans for equipment and/or your practice into just one loan, in order to reduce your monthly loan payment and possibly the interest amount?
  • Can you reduce the amount of inventory the practice maintains?
  • Are you collecting your Accounts Receivables with minimal aging? Do you collect at least 97% of the amounts billed?
  • Do you have any sort of monitoring system that helps you to know at a glance, statistically, who is productive and who isn’t?
  • Do you have written office policies that are known and enforced?
  • Does each position in the office have a fully delineated job description?

To learn the 8 staff-related issues that can plague you and adversely affect your net income read the final half of this article by filling out this form (Highly Recommended).

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Fill out the form to read the rest of this article (Highly Recommended).











Leadership Attributes and Management Qualities

As a practice owner, you should be asking yourself the following questions objectively:

  • Am I a good leader?
  • Do I run from conflict?
  • Am I able to motivate my staff?
  • Is my office harmonious or is it filled with conflict?
  • Does my staff “own” their jobs, or do they just punch in and out?
  • Do I ever feel that my staff is “holding me hostage”?
  • Am I running my practice? …or is my practice running me?

Did you answer any of those questions favorably? If you’re like the average practice owner, the answer is no. That’s because, like most doctors, you were not trained in leadership and executive skills. Consequently, you will often find yourself in management situations in which you lack certainty about what to do. Insufficient leadership could easily result in poor staff performance, unhappy patients, needless stress and lost income.

Maxim: The Morale of the Staff Is Based Upon Their Individual and Office Production.

Believe it or not, most staff members want to do a good job. They want to improve and they like being acknowledged for a job well done. When one produces a good product, it’s a reflection of his competence. Demonstration of competence raises anyone’s morale. As a leader, you have the opportunity to foster an environment that can bring about ever-increasing competence and morale.

So, how does one become a good leader? Is leadership a personality trait with which only a few are blessed? No! Leadership skills are taught and, with practice, can be put successfully into daily use.

The first quality a good leader has to have is the ability to confront situations, i.e., to face up to them. If you are the type of owner who runs and hides from conflict and staff problems, then you need some improvement in this area. First, decide that you are going to face up to the problem. Simply take a moment and make the decision; this is very helpful.

Next, grab someone — a friend, your spouse or a colleague — and roleplay the problem. Have that person play the part of the troublesome individual, hitting you hard with backtalk, new problems, can’t-be-dones, etc. Be sure to do the drill until you find that you are more confident and even feel somewhat excited to try out your new skills and presentation. You will be surprised at how easily the situation will resolve once you do this. Keep in mind that your staff can’t and won’t follow if you don’t lead.

It is very important for you to maintain excellent communication with your staff and to provide demonstrable leadership.

To learn Six Key Actions That You, As An Executive, Should Take fill out this form.

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How to Write a Mission Statement

The owner of a veterinary practice recently asked us about how a mission statement should be written, what it should focus on and what the final objective should be. This example is for this particular veterinary practice, but all of the concepts we will cover apply equally to any other private healthcare practice.

Their current mission statement is below:

“To honor our patients, (our) Animal Hospital ensures that each client is confident in the care they are receiving for their animal companion, comfortable with all aspects of the hospital and staff, as well as engaged in all areas of their pet’s health and wellbeing.”

The idea of this mission statement is good. My only concern with it is that it is somewhat limited. Here’s what I mean.

The effectiveness of a mission statement is that it creates the goal towards which the practice strives. The goal, once stated, is what is called an ideal scene, meaning what the practice would look like to the practice owners if it was functioning at an ideal level. This ideal scene is then compared to the existing scene. The differences are the corrections that need to be undertaken.

Let’s use your mission statement as an example. Let’s say when you compare this mission statement, this ideal scene, with the existing scene you find what’s missing is that the clients aren’t as engaged in all areas of their pet’s health and wellbeing as you would like. Let’s say too many of them view their pets as a bit disposable. This can be a problem in more rural areas where pet owners often feel that if something is wrong with the pet, rather than fix it, they’ll have the pet put down and get a new pet….in other words, the pet is viewed as discretionary or disposable.

So, how does this missing ingredient to the mission statement affect the doctors? The doctors have to compromise their treatment of the patients to align with the clients’ wishes. While it’s a bit optimistic to think that all clients will do everything that is best for the pet and not take their pocketbook into account, when the pendulum swings too much in that direction, the doctor’s work satisfaction declines. I’ve seen this really crush the morale of the doctor. So, assuming this was indeed a true mission statement, now we have the existing scene not lining up with the ideal scene and the result is the doctors are not happy.

To see how to resolve this issue in your practice read the final half of this article by filling out this form.

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Fill out the form to read the rest of this article (Highly Recommended).











How to Properly Correct Employees

It would be wonderful if employees never make mistakes and always do a perfect job. But we’re all human; on-the-job errors are part and parcel of working in a practice. That begs this question: What do you do when a staff member messes up and how do you correct him?

Here are some suggestions on how to properly correct your staff:

As part of this overall process, you must have written job descriptions and office policies that clearly delineate which tasks a person is responsible for on his/her job and the overall working guidelines for the office, respectively. The reason that proper, written job descriptions and office policies are so important is that you should use them as part of your correction procedure. Unfortunately, very few practice owners have them in place.

For starters, if you need to correct a staff member, make sure you review any specific disciplinary policies that you have issued, so that your actions are consistent with them. For example, if your policy states that proven theft results in an automatic discharge, you would not utilize a gradient approach to termination by merely reprimanding someone guilty of stealing.

Typically, the first step in correcting a staff member is to direct his attention to the specific item he violated, as delineated in his job description or in your written policies, indicating the appropriate action that he failed to take or the inappropriate action that he did take. Direct the staff member to reread the policy and/or job description. Ensure that he understands it and clear up any confusions or misunderstandings. This corrective action is usually sufficient to handle the first offense.

If the staff member commits a second offense involving the same issue, the office manager or practice owner should review the situation with the staff member and have him sign a copy of the policy or procedure that covers what was violated, as an attestation that he understands it and agrees to abide by it. We then recommend that you put a copy of the signed document in the staff member’s personnel file and give him a copy to put in his staff binder. One may consider that this constitutes a warning.

To learn how to apply these policies in specific situations, such as;  How many warnings should be issued? What if the employee is an excellent producer? Read the final half of this article by filling out this form.

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Fill out the form to read the rest of this article (Highly Recommended).











Vital Steps for Collecting Money Over the Phone

In any practice, Accounts Receivable exist. Whoever collects money in your organization needs to know that this particular job has a two-fold purpose:

  1. To bring the patient/client’s account current
  2. To maintain sufficient goodwill with the patient/client to ensure his continued patronage and support.

The statistics that can be used to measure how effectively the job is being done are:

  1. Money collected (Amount)
  2. Number of accounts brought current

TELEPHONIC COLLECTIONS PROCEDURES

Your telephonic communication skills are very important. Following are some guidelines and proven techniques that will assist you in being most effective in collecting outstanding payments from your patients/clients over the telephone. 

PRIOR TO THE CALL

  1. Study the patient/client’s account record, and all related documentation to ensure you have ALL the information necessary to make an effective and accurate collection call. Spotting a past due amount on your aging report and then picking up the phone to call the patient/client, without pre-planning, is not a very good idea, as there may be vital information of which you’re not aware. Placing the call without doing your “homework” could result not only in NOT getting paid, but in creating an upset with the client/patient or poor PR for the practice. So, study the file prior to making the call.
  2. Know the correct name of the person with whom you are planning to talk. Make sure that you have his/her complete name, spelled correctly. It is vital to speak with the person responsible for the account, so ensure that you have that data.
  3. Be in the right frame of mind when you place the call. Think positively. Believe that you are going to resolve the account. Do not call in anger, frustration or anxiety. You will get nowhere with your patient/client if you do so. Be both cheerful and professional.

MAKING THE CALL

  1. Introduce yourself and state the purpose of your call.
    Example: “Hello, Mr. Smith? This is Mary Jones from Dr. Nelson’s office. How are you this evening?  I’m calling you about your account. Do you have a few minutes to talk with me about this?”
  2. Be very deliberate in your statement about the account. Do not rush through this or be difficult to understand:“Our records indicate that you have an outstanding balance of $350, and I am inquiring as to when we might expect that payment.”Now give him an opportunity to respond.
  3. Do not make him feel embarrassed or as though he has done something wrong. Do not verbally attack him. Notice that in the above example it states, “Our records indicate…” Avoid statements such as: “I’m calling about the $350 that you haven’t paid us for four months!” This would definitely get you off on the wrong foot with him, and it would be quite difficult to resolve the ensuing conflict.
  4. The tone of your voice is very important. Do not be hostile or angry. Do not think of the client/patient as a “deadbeat” or a big problem. Think of yourself as a problem solver and come across that way. He will see that you are trying to help and will be more willing to help in return.
  5. After you have identified yourself and stated the purpose of your call, STOP!! Don’t say anything more at that point. It may seem like forever, but if you wait for the person to say something, it will go much more smoothly, as he is now having to originate a response to you regarding your inquiry.
  6. Listen to what he has to say. Don’t just hear it, but really listen and understand. It could be that he has already mailed the check, or maybe he was planning to mail it that day. If you come on with a harsh demand for payment, you could stop an already intended payment. So, give him a chance to talk.
  7. If he resists, registers an objection or is just generally uncooperative, let him say everything he has to say. Let him know that you understand, and then handle the objection, confusion or whatever it is by giving him an honest and realistic answer. If you do that, you will get a full picture of what his objections are, and you will have left him with little or no argument to fall back on once you have handled the objections he put forth.
  8. Don’t be brash or punitive. Understand that this is a tough position for him to be in. Don’t harass or attack him. Don’t make a threat (such as a lawsuit), except as a last resort and ONLY if you fully intend to carry it out.
  9. Go over with him the fact that it is to his advantage and benefit to make payment. Let him know that the advantages include: not getting turned over to a collection agency, feeling better because an agreement has been worked out, no harm being done to his credit rating, etc.
  10. Bear in mind that everything he has to say might sound very reasonable. But also remember that those “reasonable” explanations are the very “reasons” why he’s in a bind in the first place. The explanations won’t handle anything.

Fill out the form to learn the remaining 5 indispensable collection call techniques AND to find out the 5 vital steps to take AFTER the call (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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learn the remaining 5 indispensable collection call techniques AND to find out the 5 vital steps to take AFTER the call (highly recommended).









Getting Clients and Patients to Be Accountable for Cancellations

You need to put a system and policy in place to discourage your clients or patients from unnecessarily canceling appointments. First, you should have a company policy that is given to your clients/patients as part of their “Welcome to the Practice” handout, letting them know what is considered a no-show—usually less than 24 hours’ notice—and what happens when a no-show occurs. It is important to make sure that your clients/patients are aware of this policy before enforcing it, or you might create an upset.

Clients or patients who wish to cancel an appointment on short notice or who fail to come to a confirmed appointment need to be gently challenged on missing that appointment. An attempt should be made to get them to keep the appointment if at all possible, and if that doesn’t work, they should be notified of the $25.00 fee to be collected at or prior to the next visit. If the client or patient still wishes to cancel, he or she is to be rescheduled. The fee should only apply if the client/patient has already been given his/her “first-offense warning.” The idea behind the fee is NOT to anger the person or make the person wrong but to inform him or her that you are serious about the importance of appointments being kept and completing a course of treatment on time.

The script would be something like this: “You can’t keep your appointment? Oh dear! The doctor has this time set aside especially for you. Is there anything you can do to make it?” If that doesn’t work, move into the missed-appointment-fee handling.

  1. For the first offense, the office policy is to waive the fee. The client/patient should be notified of this, and it must be documented in the chart by the receptionist. The ideal way to approach the individual is by saying, “Mr. Jones, it is our office policy to charge $25.00 for late cancellations or missed appointments; but since this is your first offense, we will waive the fee. Now, let’s get you rescheduled. . . .” This message should be practiced so as to be said all at once and in one breath. The entire message should be delivered before the person can interrupt. This part is very important. You should have the client/patient chart in front of you so that you can be accurate in telling the person of his first offense and the waiving of the fee. If you do not have the client/patient chart in front of you, treat the person as if this were the first offense and note it in the chart.
  2. For the second offense, a client or patient will be called by the OM because a second failure may mean that the person is upset or unclear about something in the treatment. Please give the chart to the OM so the client/patient can be called that day. This must be documented in the chart.
  3. For the third offense, the client/patient will be sent a letter that will require a $25.00 payment for missing the appointment, plus a $25.00 payment to be held as credit for the next appointment, for a total of $50.00. This must be documented in the chart.

If you have any questions regarding this procedure or its implementation, fill out the form to schedule a free call and we would be happy to assist you.

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If you have any questions regarding this procedure or its implementation, fill out the form to schedule a free call and we would be happy to assist you. (highly recommended).









Discussing Payment with the Patient/Client: How to be Both Polite AND Effective

You should always assume that a patient/client can afford the recommended treatment when discussing payment with him. Don’t be shy, embarrassed or apologetic about the cost of your services. This can give the appearance that the treatment isn’t worth the fee being charged.

When making financial arrangements, your goal should be to collect the entire fee at the time of service via direct payment and/or verified insurance reimbursement. You should have a well-defined financial policy for patients to read and agree to with regard to payment of service.

It is important that the accounts manager does not give the patient/client the opportunity to say “no”. Never say, “Would you like to take care of that today?” Instead, give her options that are compatible with office policy. For example:

“Mrs. Smith, the fee for today is $50. Will you be paying with cash, check or credit card?”

With such an approach, “no” is simply not an option. Remember, if you make clear financial arrangements in the first place, you won’t have any trouble collecting the amount due.

Suppose there was a misunderstanding and the patient/client tells you she can’t afford to pay the entire balance at the conclusion of the visit. Your reply might be,

“Could you tell me how much you are able to pay at this time?”

The idea here is to get the largest payment possible. Now you need to secure the balance:

“Mrs. Smith, that will leave a balance due of $560. We need to work out an agreement on how that will be taken care of.”

When she agrees to a definite date for the payment of the balance, put the information on a financial agreement form and have her sign it.

If it becomes necessary to offer a monthly payment plan to a patient/client, adhere to the payment schedule as governed by office policy. Do not stray from the established policies.

Fill out the form to learn (1) what to do if someone REALLY can’t afford your service and (2) how to address insurance reimbursement issues with your clients/patients (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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Fill out the form to learn (1) what to do if someone REALLY can’t afford your service and (2) how to address insurance reimbursement issues with your clients/patients (highly recommended).








How to increase efficiency, productivity and net profit in a private practice

There is an impression with healthcare practitioners everywhere that all a practice has to do to increase production is to increase the number of new patients. More new patients is often the universal solvent for an under-producing office.

However, attracting new patients is only 1 of 7 areas of a practice that lead to the efficiency, productivity and the overall net of a practice. There are 6 other areas of a practice that a doctor/practice owner can improve on to increase the profitability and gross income of an office without seeing a single increase in new patients. This does not mean that attracting new patients should be ignored, but what it does mean is that the other areas of the practice should be addressed with just as much importance as the new patient area. In order to improve those areas one must, for starters, know what those areas are. Below you will see the basic actions of each of these areas.

Personnel: A practice owner should know how to hire the right staff and know when and how to fire staff that aren’t productive. Holding onto non-compliant and under productive staff, at a time when unemployment is still high in most areas of the country and the employment pool is more qualified that it’s been in 25 years, is both poor management and foolish. A practice owner can learn how to monitor staff productivity and not judge staff on “feelings” or what other people say about certain staff. Learning how to objectively manage is a key to a productive, efficient and happy office. Part of this is knowing how to train staff on their jobs with proper job descriptions. Having known and applied office policy can make a staff operate in a coordinated fashion and work together as a team resulting in higher productivity and morale. How you hire, train, monitor and take care of your staff is the basic concept of this area. Making this area work properly requires good job descriptions and office policies that are known and understood by all staff as well as having effective statistical monitoring systems for all areas of the office, a good internal communication system and good communication skills by those managing the practice.

Treatment: Exams must be comprehensive and relationships must be built in a very limited amount of time. Value must be demonstrated through excellent care and communication by all personnel involved in any aspect of treatment delivery. Five minutes of sincere, honest and meaningful communication is worth more than 30 minutes of superficial chitchat. Treatment must be top notch using up to date methods and equipment. This area is the province of the doctor and where the “Doctor Hat” is worn.

Enrollment: A practice can increase the quality of case presentations and show more value for the services they are delivering through very simple, basic communication and sales skills. There is still plenty of money being spent these days. A practice must be better at showing value than a competitor down the street. A successful practice never makes a patient feel uncomfortable or pressured through poor case presentation and sales skills. Proper case presentation results in patients/clients knowing what they need and wanting the service and willing to look at how to work out the economics of the service needed. Also, having a good recall system and an excellent patient reactivation program can increase a practice’s production by one third or more.

Part two of this article will cover financial management, marketing, quality control actions, personnel and your actions as an owner and executive that are vital to running a more efficient and viable practice.

Fill out the form to the right and receive “How to increase efficiency, productivity and net profit in a private practice – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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Fill out the form to continue reading this article How to increase efficiency, productivity and net profit in a private practice – Part II (highly recommended).