The Basics on Bonus Plans
Getting Staff to Produce the Quantity you Need and Want

It is very wise to have a bonus plan for staff in operation in your office. If you reward staff for increasing their production and the production of the practice, they will naturally want to continue to do that, and the whole staff will tend to operate much more as a team.

In structuring a bonus plan, the simpler you can make it for yourself and your staff, the better. Bear in mind that you want the staff working as a team and that there are several areas of concern. Consider the following:

The best bonus plans are ones that get the entire staff working together towards increased viability for the whole practice, while rewarding their own increased production. A plan that gives staff bonuses when the practice is not viable is a loser for the doctor/owner. At the same time, not providing bonuses to staff for their increased production when the practice is getting more and more viable provides no incentive or reward for the staff and will lead to a less cohesive and productive group. So, you have to put together a system that takes into account the major statistics of the practice, the viability of the practice, and the individual production of the staff members.

Certainly, you want higher production statistics, but if you pay bonuses only on increased production, you could be painting yourself into a corner if the collections do not keep up with the production. You could be paying bonuses out of your own pocket!

At the same time, generally, only one person is handling collections. But even so, a team effort can come into play in this area. Staff members who do not formally have anything to do with collections can still be of assistance by not overburdening the person in charge of collections with other matters. The staff can offer to help out with getting statements out. If appropriate, the staff can offer to perform other helpful functions (as time allows) so that the person in charge of collections can handle financial matters. All staff should be cognizant of relaying important financial related information to the accounts manager if they become aware of a situation that could affect the financial area. Additionally, the better service a patient/client receives, the easier it is to collect payment. All staff can contribute to collections by doing their own jobs well.

If the staff is focused only on production statistics, they may not focus an appropriate amount of attention on promoting new patients/clients in the practice. New patients/clients coming into the practice is one of the prime factors involved in your being able to generate more production and collections. The new patient/client area ties in closely with the growth and viability of the practice. All staff can be responsible for the inflow of new patients/clients into the practice by their own promotion from their job area, as well as outside of the practice.

The point becomes self-evident. The staff must be focused on all of the above and working as a team to keep all of those statistics going up. The practice will grow, and they will be rewarded for their contribution to that growth. At the same time, the practice’s viability must be looked at.

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Do You Know What Constitutes Great Service?

The Four Components of Great Service

Great service to your patients/clients is one of the most important factors required to build a successful and thriving practice. Under the heading of great service, you will find the following key components: convenience, communication, cost and quality, and the importance of your service as perceived by the patient/client.

Convenience: Consider the location of your practice. People generally select a service based on how convenient it will be for them to get to the location. Surveys and studies show that well over half of the public selects their healthcare services because of a conveniently located facility.

Are your hours structured to meet the needs of your patients/clients? Most people operate on a very hectic schedule and will actively seek out those practices that offer convenient or flexible hours. Practices that really work at ways to make it more convenient for their patients/clients to use their services will surely reap the rewards for their efforts.

Communication: Words are not the only way in which communication occurs. Appearances and actions weigh equally as important in conveying an idea or concept to your patients/clients. Look at your staff, building, reception area, signs, business cards, letters, etc. What do these communicate to the public?

Decide exactly what it is that you wish to communicate to your patients/clients and prospective patients/clients. Then convey that in not only verbal communication, but in all of the above categories as well. Teach your staff to do the same.

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Proper Case Presentation and Better Case Acceptance

We have found that doctors can lose thousands of dollars per month because they are unaware of some of the principles associated with proper case presentation and case acceptance. In addition, sometimes the best treatment planning and case presentation doesn’t result in patient acceptance because staff members are not trained in systems that will increase patient compliance with what the doctor is recommending. Lost revenue due to inefficiency and missed opportunities for growth cost a practice far more than most doctors realize.
One small but vitally important point to be aware of in presenting treatment plans is that the terminology used must be easily understood and at the understanding level of your patient. We see all too often doctors using technical terms that are not understood by the common patient. If the patient doesn’t understand the terms, they won’t fully understand the recommendation, and the acceptance rate will be lower than it should be. This is but one point of many key parts of proper case presentation and better case acceptance.

Another basic but vital point in treatment plan presentation is only presenting what you feel is the best course of treatment for that patient. We’ve seen far too often doctors assuming that patients/clients can’t afford a treatment, so instead of presenting what they feel is appropriate, they present an A, B and C option. Of course, the C option is the least expensive, and the A option is the most expensive. When you present multiple options up front, the likelihood of someone picking the A option (the best course of treatment) is greatly reduced. When you present cases in this manner, you will likely be performing a disservice to your patients, and your gross income will end up going down.

You should always present one course of treatment to the patient/client. Diagnose the condition – do not diagnose their pocket book. Do not fall into the trap of pre-judging what you think they can and cannot afford. They have come to you because you are the expert, and they want your expert opinion. Present it, and if they have concerns, objections or need more education on the matter, handle each issue one at a time. If it is a concern about being able to afford it, let them know that you accept credit cards and care credit (if applicable) to help them make payments and get the treatment. If you exhaust all other avenues, then give them a B and C option. But, never lead with anything other than the A option.

If you do this, your patients will start getting a better level of care, and the income of your practice will go up. If you would like more information on how to give a proper case presentation, increase case acceptance or any other management topic, fill out the form to the right, and we will be more than happy to assist you.

If you would like more help dealing with increasing your case acceptance or any other management topic, fill out the form to the right, and we will be more than happy to assist you.

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If you are a practice owner and 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.









How to Deal with Cancelled or Rescheduled Appointments

One of the most common problems doctors want help with is dealing with cancelled or rescheduled appointments. If a doctor’s office has too much of this occurring it can wreak havoc on their daily production. Normally, when this is occurring it is a sign that the receptionist is not properly trained in scheduling appointments, managing the appointment book, or handling cancellations and rescheduling.

When you are getting a high volume of cancellations, you should ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your receptionist immediately reschedule a cancelled patient?
  • Does your receptionist ask the patient to put the appointment in their calendar, phone, or day planner so they won’t forget?
  • Do you keep a record of the reasons behind cancellations for future reference and to implement any needed corrections?
  • Do you have any sort of policy regarding cancellations that is part of the “welcome to the practice” information given to patients?
  • If you have such policy, do you enforce it?

Here are some other questions you should ask yourself as regards appointment no-shows:

  • What actions do you take when someone doesn’t show up for an appointment?
  • Do you call the patient after a certain length of time, e.g., 10-15 minutes?
  • Do you have any sort of policy regarding no-shows that is part of the “welcome to the practice” information given to patients?
  • If you have such policy, do you show it to no-show patients the next time they come into the practice?

The doctors we deal with are all asked these simple questions, and many more, when they are dealing with cancellations, no shows, and reschedules. We recommend that you closely evaluate the management systems and training that you have in place with the staff members involved; then, fix or implement the proper procedures to reduce the amount of patients lost. This normally leads to increased production without any increase in marketing or staff expense, which, of course, leads to greater efficiency and net income in a practice.

If you would like more help dealing with canceled or rescheduled appointments or any other management topic, click here to schedule your 15 minute call online, and we will be more than happy to assist you.

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How Do You Get Your Employees to Think Like You Do?

The Mission Statement

A primary responsibility of the owner of a practice or a business is to set the pace and direction for the practice or business by contemplating, defining and establishing exactly what the mission of the practice or business is. By doing so, the owner provides the guiding principle for the entire activity.A mission statement can be used to maintain the focus for the owner and staff. It can be used as a point of reference along the line. Oftentimes, a staff can simply get caught up in the day-to-day functions of their individual jobs, forgetting (or maybe never having really known) what the purpose of the activity is. A fully functional team can then never truly come to fruition.

It is up to the owner to determine why he/she is engaged in the activity to begin with, what the purpose and goal is and to form a team that is mutually in agreement with the purpose and the goal. It is that understanding and agreement that will allow people to evolve into a coordinated group, working together toward the long-term objectives of the owner.

The second part of this article contains a sample mission statement. Use it as a model for developing one that suits your practice or business. Once it has been developed, distribute it amongst your staff, go over it as a group at your staff meeting and have each staff member place their copy in the front of their respective staff binders.

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Providing a Firm Foundation Through Written Office Policy

A Way to Avoid Common Confusions in the Workplace
In order to function most effectively as a team, agreements must be known and adhered to for smooth, efficient coordination and cooperation. This is also known as “policy.” As long as people know what the rules of the activity are, and those guidelines are clearly presented as being in the best interest of the activity, the policies will be followed, and a smoother operating environment will result.

Policy that is understood, agreed upon and adhered to will strengthen the practice in the achievement of its goals.

Even the “policies” that are in your head and that you figure “everyone knows” should be put in writing. Because that may not always be the case, by putting all policies in writing, problems and confusions that could otherwise surface will be curtailed and even eliminated.

It is advisable to create your “General Office Policy” to address fundamental issues that affect every practice. In addition, policies relating to specific areas of the practice should be properly documented. The practice should maintain a Master Policy Manual, and each employee should have his or her own copy of the policies of the practice.

Once a General Office Policy Manual is developed, the practice will continue to generate new policies as time goes on and as new issues and situations present themselves. When creating a new policy, place a copy in the Master Policy Manual and distribute a copy to each relevant staff member. Request that the staff then send written compliance to the office manager that they have read and understand the policy and that they have placed their copy in their respective manuals.

Fill out the form to the right and receive a “list of the types of topics that should be addressed in the General Office Policy.” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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Recruiting New Employees

Who, what, when, where and how:

It is a 100% certainty that with any practice you will need new employees at some point in time, either to replace employees who leave or to help the practice grow. Where do you find the type of people you want to work with, people that you can trust and who will want to see your practice succeed?

Posting on the Internet and in the Newspaper:

The most obvious resources to use in recruiting new personnel are the internet and the newspaper. Before we discuss the ad itself, let’s take a look at some basics. The best place to place your want ad is going to be online. There are several websites that you can use to find a qualified employee, such as Careerbuilder.com, Indeed.com, Monster.com, Glassdoor.com, and Craigslist.com.

Never lower your standards when looking for a staff member. Keep your standards high and remember that you not only want a top quality person, but you deserve that person! Your practice growth depends upon people who are bright, energetic, sensitive, intelligent and outgoing. Be willing to compete for that type of person.

Also, realize that the type of person you are looking for may not be actively looking for new jobs. Some of the most qualified individuals already have jobs, but they may be looking for a change. These individuals may seem like “cold prospects,” but they actually do skim through the want-ads just to see what is out there. So, it is very important to develop an advertisement that will attract the person you are looking for.

For newspapers, Sunday is definitely the best time to run your ad. Even though newspaper sales have been declining in recent years, it isn’t out of the question to use it as a means of finding new hires. Running an ad on both Sunday and Monday would be the most successful combination because people who are looking will look through Sunday’s paper and continue “looking” at least through Monday’s paper. Do not waste your valuable ad dollars by advertising right before a major holiday, as people are less likely to read the classifieds. They are too involved with other matters, and will usually look after the holidays.

Part two of this article will go over tips on how you develop your ad and how to use hiring agencies.

Fill out the form to the right and receive “Recruiting New Employees – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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Strengthen Your Appointment Control

Minimize Cancellations

Cancellations and missed appointments are one of the biggest frustrations in any practice and result in lowered production and lost revenue. Cancellations and missed appointments are typically symptoms of other underlying problems. This may be a nonverbal way that the person is telling you that he or she is not satisfied with the service received.

Shown below are some suggestions to help reduce no-shows, cancellations and reschedules. The first key to controlling appointment compliance and smooth patient or client flow is for the receptionist to fully understand that the appointment book has been placed in their hands, and they are fully responsible for its handling. The following points will help the receptionist perform their duties in this regard:

  • Ensure that you are fully aware of what the appointment policies of the practice are, and see to it that you are trained to apply those procedures.
  • Utilize your “General Policy” statement to educate patients or clients on the necessity of keeping their appointments.
  • You must have the honest and genuine attitude that you really care about this person, and you know why it is important for them to set and keep their appointment for their recommended care. You must be committed to good health and good service for the patient or client, and know that the appointment for the recommended treatment is necessary. Fully communicate this attitude with the person that you are talking to, especially when setting appointments.
  • Always call any patient or client immediately if they do not arrive within 15 minutes of the scheduled appointment. Find out from the person if something is wrong that caused him or her to miss the appointment. Convey a caring “time is valuable” attitude to the person, and let them know that you want to work with them to ensure that they can make it in.
  • When a patient or client calls to cancel, investigate diplomatically to discover the real reason why they are canceling. Many times you’ll find it is a financial consideration, or a lack of understanding about why they need the recommended care.
  • Really listen to what they are saying to you. In this way you will be able to work with the person to help resolve the real underlying problem. Never assume you know what the problem is. Work with your patients or clients to remove the barriers that are preventing them from adhering to the scheduled appointments. When you have found the real reason for the cancellation, you then must handle it so that the person does, in fact, keep the appointment.

Fill out the form to the right to continue to read this article: “Strengthen Your Appointment Control – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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The Key to Effective Marketing: Surveys

Surveys can save you time and wasted effort. By properly utilizing surveys, you will not be shooting in the dark when you implement a new idea. You will not be left wondering why people are not coming back to your practice. You will know what your public needs and wants, so you can provide exactly that.

Have you ever come up with a “great” new idea, implemented it, and when nothing significant or productive occurred as a result, found yourself tearing out your hair wondering what went wrong? Or even worse, tearing out the hair of your staff because “new patients are down!”

Have you pondered over why new patients have dropped off even though you’re doing the same things that you have always done? It might be possible that the things you and others have been doing for many years are no longer effective. These scenarios are likely due to a failure to survey.

There are answers to marketing problems that you simply cannot procure from any source other than your clients/patients themselves. The motto in marketing is “know before you go,” if you don’t “know,” what the problem is, your patient surveys will tell you where to “go”.

Constructing the Survey

Although surveys will vary from practice to practice, there are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Indicate to your patient why you are doing a survey, and thank them for participating.
  2. Ask only relevant questions in your survey. Restrict your questions to important factors that will actually tell you if what you are doing is effective, or actions you can change for the better.
  3. Keep the survey brief. Write the survey so that it takes no more than 3-5 minutes to complete. If the survey is too long, your patients may feel annoyed, overburdened, bored or will not respond.
  4. Construct a survey that asks for specific answers. Create questions that provide you with information rather than having only “yes” or “no” answers.
  5. Allow patients the option to remain anonymous if they so choose.
  6. Provide a way for them to receive a response to their questions or input if they desire.
  7. If appropriate, set a deadline for the receipt of the surveys. Tell participants why you have a deadline and when it is.
  8. Graciously thank your patients for taking their time to fill out the survey.
  9. For mail-out surveys, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Recipients will be much more likely to send it back to you.

Fill out the form to the right and receive “The Key to Effective Marketing: Surveys – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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Public Relations and Social Responsibility

This article concerns the benefits of getting out of the office and getting actively involved in your community. Whether it’s sponsoring your local little league team, encouraging your area’s children’s museum to do an eye screening or “Celebration of Smiles” dental-health day, you can make a positive contribution that solidifies your place in the community.

Many people volunteer with no expectation of anything in return, other than the personal sense of value, worth and integrity that comes from helping out their neighbors. You can feel great AND grow your practice through the word of mouth referrals that can come from this activity, making it easily worth the investment of your time and money.

One definition of public relations is “good works made well known.” Many practices try to do this through a variety of marketing methods, sometimes spending a substantial amount of money doing so. While we recommend lower cost and higher return internal marketing activities, we also help our clients look for community activities that not only help those involved, but also create goodwill for the practice. This is an excellent and inexpensive way to market a practice.

Larger companies understand how important it is to be active in their communities. Socially responsible companies build brand loyalty by sponsoring events and non-profit projects. People like to know that their money is going to a company that “walks the talk” and works to make the world a better place.

I’m sure you’ve seen many examples of this such as your local bank sponsoring charities or other non-profit activities in your area. This concept is no different for a doctor’s practice. Giving of your time, money and personnel to actively work with local causes is a terrific way to build loyalty among current and future patients. Many employees also report a greater sense of pride working for an office that is making a difference in their communities.

Some examples include: providing free emergency services or services in general for the underprivileged, donating finances and/or labor for local cleanup efforts, or manning bins at local food drives. The list goes on and on! Read your local newspaper or Craigslist to stay in touch with the types of activities that are going on in your area that you can contribute to, or think of your own, like offering free health screenings at libraries, schools, etc.

Larger companies do not miss the public relations benefit of being socially responsible, so why should your practice?

Ask your staff what sort of programs they would like to support. Your practice could donate time at a local summer fair doing a food drive. This type of project can be a bit more involved in terms of time and commitment, but has a huge impact in the community. The staff can wear t-shirts with the practice’s name on it for extra marketing value.

Although a community depends on the private practice for daily healthcare, the private practice also depends on the community for its livelihood. So, whether it is by financial contribution or by personal effort, get out there and get involved! The returns will be felt by everyone in the practice.

As Hot Tips is read by over 10,000 subscribers every month, this Hot Tip is dedicated to those people that are active in their communities doing what they can to help.

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We offer any practice owner the opportunity to receive one of the below gifts in exchange for a 15 minute, anonymous phone survey (at the date and time of your choice) that will assist upcoming publications by The Practice Solution Magazine. If you are interested, please check one of the below boxes in exchange for doing a survey with us. As always, we are very grateful for your help in making our publications better.