Friday, October 2, 2009

How to survive the financial storm

The recession has arrived for private medical practices, and the the Medical group Management Association has just released data showing how bad things have gotten out there. Using its data from multispecialty groups as a "proxy for overall trends," the MGMA found that revenue last year was down 1.9 percent, while procedures and patient volumes have declined by 9.9 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively.

And folks, here's what might be the scariest part: These numbers don't even include data from 2009, when the strongest affects of the recession took hold (although it is now clear that the recession actually started in late 2007). So things are getting worse, not better. Meanwhile, health reform is almost certain to bring tighter controls on Medicare spending, to include not only reduced payments but also a whole new way of paying physicians designed to shift from volume to quality. That's sensible in theory but we'll have to see how it works in practice. One thing is clear to me, though: You can talk all you want about waste, fraud, and abuse, but you don't bring down healthcare costs without reducing pay to providers, period.

So. What to do about it? Below I've linked to a number of articles Physicians Practice has done on how to lower costs, get more patients, and be more efficient in a number of key ways.

Read more

Cutting costs:
Here's how to cut costs without compromising quality. And another.

Here's an article on managing your overhead. And another.

Losing Patients? Here's how to get more.

And how to keep the ones you have.

Not sure where to start? Start by looking at your own practice's data. Here's what to look for. And here's how to understand what's probably the msot important report of all -- your accounts receivable reports.

We are heading into a very bracing period of time in private practice. The next decade will be more challenging than the one we're leaving. You simply don't have the luxury any longer of practicing the way you always have. Your survival is at stake now.

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