After speaking to thousands of practice owners and managers, we noticed a trend: There are certain aspects of running a health practice that top practitioners excel at. Mastering these 10 areas allowed these practitioners to rise above the rat race many practitioners find themselves stuck in. Here, we reveal the actions that the top 1% of health practice owners have mastered to steer their practices towards growth, increased revenue, and maximise their success.
Picture this for a moment: the phone’s ringing, your receptionist is trying to print an invoice, you’ve run out of coffee (again)! Your appointment book seems to have something spilt on it, and you can’t actually tell who you will see next. Your last client didn’t arrive for their session, and who knows when the last time was that someone cleaned the windows of your reception room. Ick.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Practice owners around the world are running on fumes, trying to see clients, and keep up-to-date with a never-ending list of administrative to-dos. Small business owners have burnout rates of around 77%, and it’s estimated to be much higher for healthcare practice owners if you consider the significantly higher rates of physician burnout compared to the rest of the population.
As a practice owner, you are responsible for business development and growing the business. In reality, the day-to-day demands of keeping your practice running make it very challenging to see clients (healthcare provider hat) while simultaneously running your practice, profitably (business owner hat).
While switching between hats, it’s easy to lose sight of what processes are costing you money and turning away clients. You put out fires as they come up, rarely thinking more than a session, day or week ahead, if you’re lucky!
We’re here to let you in on a secret. Proactive practice management, if you can get it right, is going to change the way that your practice runs entirely. You’re going to free up time and mental space, and it’s going to have a massive impact on your bottom line too.
We are going to break down the 10 biggest areas in private practice that are wasting your precious time, money and how to fix them.
1. Get rid of old client folders
“A new broom sweeps clean.”
Across the world, minimalism and decluttering are taking even the most disordered and cluttered homes by storm, and there’s no reason that this shouldn’t spill over into our professional lives as well.
If you still have clients files, paper, or digitally hanging about from eons ago, it might be time to clear this clutter. We are all guilty of holding on to things ‘just in case’, but Bobby Jones’ treatment notes from 2004 are unlikely to spark joy anytime soon.
Your country will have legislation related to the length of time that you need to keep client information. Check what that limit is and shred the rest.
If you are already using a digital notes storage system, deleting old files can save you money and storage space if your provider charges by the GB of storage space (although Power Diary does not anything extra charge for data storage).
2. Digitise your treatment notes
This can be as simple as a bulk upload using practice management software that will give you a full digital copy of each client’s records, so you don’t need to physically store them anymore.
Having treatment notes accessible digitally will also make preparing for the next session easier and less stressful for practitioners.
3. Manage your appointments online
Throw out your appointment books and start making appointments using electronic diaries. An electronic diary will provide improved visibility over appointment times and potential clashes. Going online will also enable your practice to begin collecting crucial data about your appointments, which can be key in informing future business decisions.
Also, consider allowing patients to book their appointments online. This saves your team administration team hours on the phone trying to find an appointment time that fits between dropping Sally to soccer practice and picking up Michael from piano lessons.
An Intuit Health survey found that 81% of patients would schedule a doctor’s appointment online if they could, and 40% of patients would consider switching providers for online access.
Offering online appointment booking services could not only win you more clients but also creates a more customer-centric experience for your current client base.
4. Send automated email or SMS appointment reminders
This is a sure-fire way of reducing no shows, especially if using SMS as 85% of consumers prefer receiving a text over a phone call or email.
By reducing no-shows and last-minute cancellations, this ensures your practice remains as productive and profitable as possible.
5. Do a drive to collect all outstanding payments
When you’re in the thick of running your practice the missed invoice here, and there can go unnoticed. Use your finance software to pull a report of all outstanding invoices and begin the collection process. If necessary, get a professional company to help with this.
Quick Tip: Also consider automating payment follow up emails or SMS to avoid a backlog in the future and improve cash flow.
6. Write processes for your essential daily tasks
Start writing up processes for the most important daily tasks – such as onboarding a new client or setup templates for taking treatment notes so that it becomes efficient and standardised within the practice.
In essence, running a practice happens in 3 key areas:
Front office: appointment scheduling, welcoming clients, as well as checking eligibility and authorisations.
Clinical: the client session.
Back office: invoicing and payments, referrals, marketing, HR (and much, much more!)
There are a couple of dozen processes and protocols for each area, and each may involve different employees.
A holistic approach is one that looks at all aspects of the practice from when the client books, to their arrival, seeing their healthcare provider, the payment process after, and then building and maintaining a relationship using online channels.
A smoothly run practice means happier clients. Happy clients stay clients for life and tell their friends all about you too.
7. Measure and manage practitioner productivity
Leading management thinker Peter Drucker is famous for saying:
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
There are eight metrics to consider when measuring practitioner productivity:
- Session Volume (Utilisation);
- Hours Billed;
- No Show Rates;
- Wait Times;
- Total Revenue;
- Return Rates;
- Client Satisfaction;
When you’re deciding what metrics to measure, remember that you want them to be useful, relatively simple to implement and track, and easy to benchmark (or compare) against other physicians in the practice. It is also essential to ensure that your practice management software has comprehensive reporting capabilities to report on key metrics.
8. Have professionals on speed dial
You’re a healthcare practice owner, not a bookkeeper, and tax advisor rolled into one. While it’s good to know the basics, it’s much more effective if you can get on with the business of growing your practice, and leave the more specialist roles to a small trusted team of advisors. You won’t need them all the time, but just knowing who to call in an emergency (or even if you just have a question) can really reduce your mental load.
You’re juggling so many different balls, and it helps to know that there are others watching to check that none of them drops.
Here’s who you should have on speed dial:
- A bookkeeper who has experience with healthcare practices.
- A tax advisor who can help with submitting returns at the end of the fiscal year.
- A legal advisor to look over your contracts and waivers.
- A web designer: So much of the modern-day health practice happens online, and for that, you need a website that’s updated regularly (and they can refer you on to an online ads specialist or an SEO expert if needed).
- A mentor: someone who has run a successful practice for many years who will be able to weigh in with ideas and advice when you find yourself in a sticky or uncomfortable situation.
9. Manage change within your practice
If you’re implementing processes that are going to modernise your practice, you need to make sure that everyone is on board. After all, what is practice management if not for getting the best out of your team. A holistic approach to practice management means that you’re committed to ensuring that everyone knows and understands their role in the practice, over and above any procedural changes that you put in place.
Schedule catch-ups as often as is realistic; it might only be 30 minutes every three months but make a regular commitment and stick to it.
10. Implement practice management software
Here are a few ways that practice management software can support your practice:
- Appointment management
- Automated email and SMS reminders
- Invoicing and payments
- Treatment notes
- Telehealth video calls
- Client management
- Online booking
Integrations with other accounting and marketing software.
Once you’ve implemented a practice management software you’re also going to want to look at employee productivity, staff satisfaction levels, referral rates and more to keep making small improvements to the productivity of each employee (mostly yours) and the productivity of the practice as a whole.
This is going to be a whole lot easier if you’ve gone ahead and chosen a good practice management software as you’ll have the data you need at your fingertips (Read Lindfield Speech Pathology’s case study: How a Well-Established Speech Pathology Clinic uses Power Diary to Streamline their Operations and Support Organic Growth).
Power Diary features robust reporting and analytics to allow you to keep a bird’s eye view on your daily, weekly and monthly operations. With over 26 reports from client retention to detailed financial reporting, you have access to the data that you need, exactly when you need it.
Also includes 100+ features to manage your practice including; calendar management, online bookings, treatment notes, invoicing, SMS and email communications among many more. With unlimited free support integrating Power Diary into your practice is seamless.
“Brilliant practice management software for specialists! We are a specialist respiratory and sleep medicine practice with 10 physicians. We use Power Diary for all of our appointments and billing. It integrates seamlessly with medicare for our billing, is intuitive, fast, with an excellent team behind it always ready to respond to our queries and cater to our needs. We love it and would recommend it without hesitation.”
Andrew Dimitri, Lung and Sleep Clinic
Start a free trial with Power Diary before the end of this month to get 50% OFF for the next 6 months: no credit card required or lock-in contracts.
If you want to maximise your practice’s potential, then mastering these 10 things and implementing first-class practice management software is essential to your success.