If you've followed us for a while, you know I've been urging practices of all sizes to take their payer directory listings more seriously for years now. It's not that insurers shouldn't do a better job. It's just that (as someone who once owned a directory company) I know how hard it is to keep directories accurate, especially if it's not your core competency (like, when your actual job is providing health insurance). It's also something that requires effort on both sides to be done properly. There's just no way around this. The insurer can't be expected to know when anything changes on your side unless you inform them. And while insurers should do a better job of accurately publishing information you provide them, mistakes are inevitable. It's up to you to catch them and make sure they're fixed. And it's absolutely worth monitoring and correcting your listings! I can think of few marketing tasks that are more directly connected to attracting new patients. Patients want to know that you're (1) in their network (2) accepting new patients and (3) convenient to them before deciding to contact you. If you're not listed accurately in their health plan directory, you're basically turning them away at your door. More on the latest study showing directories just haven't gotten any easier to maintain: https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/inconsistent-physician-directories-no-surprises-act/645307/
Medical practice management is filled with unique challenges. But there's also a unique marketing advantage that practices have -- at least traditional, insurance-based practices. When your practice accepts insurance, the insurance plans you contract with, and even patients' employers, become a potential funnel of patients. The key is to be sure your practice is able to take advantage of it. Consider the process a patient will likely follow when looking for medical care. If the patient needs a new primary care practice, they'll almost surely start with their health plan's physician directory. Even if they ask for recommendations from friends and family, they will still want to confirm that your practice is in their network. And even if the patient needs a specialist and gets recommendations from their primary care physician, that in-network confirmation will still be crucial. Despite how critical it is for patients to know whether a physician is in-network for their plan or not, payer directories are often inaccurate. Any mistake in a directory can mean that your practice misses out on a patient that would have come through your doors. Some errors are particularly damaging -- like leaving a physician out of a plan altogether, displaying an obsolete or inaccurate location or phone number, or showing "not accepting new patients" when the physician is, in fact, accepting new patients. It seems logical that payers should want these directories to be accurate -- and they probably do. But it's harder to keep them updated than it might seem, and that means errors are common. Even if it's not technically your practice's responsibility, payer directory accuracy is too important to leave in the payers' hands. Someone on your practice should periodically check all payer directories, to be sure that they're sending patients to you and not passively turning them away with incorrect information. Besides the basics of accurate information, many payer directories now offer the opportunity to enhance your listings with photos and other information. Take advantage of it! It's your chance to stand out versus the competition in the best free marketing resource around.
Whether you've got the deductible reset blues or have simply resolved to keep your schedule as full as it can be in 2016, I've got some ideas to share in my new webinar, "Five Tips to Fill the Schedule in 2016." It's free (sponsored by Kareo). Some highlights of what will be covered: Reputation management -- why it's more valuable and powerful than ever, and also easier than ever; The key segment of reputation management that must be your top priority -- and most reputation management experts never even mention it; How preventive services can help you cope with the deductible reset this year -- and for years to come; How embracing technology can become its own form of (painless) marketing, even as it gives your practice other big benefits. Of course, if you sign up, you'll have access to the recording a day or two after the presentation, so don't hesitate to register even if you think you might not make it for the live presentation. (But I hope you can join us live, because I really look forward to your questions and comments.) Here is the sign-up link.
Here are three simple strategies your practice can take to attract more referrals, gain visibility and be the doctor of choice in your specialty. Forge Alliances: You can't build your network of referrals by sitting in your office, so get out and meet the other health care providers and potential referral sources. You can maximize the time spent and the gains in this endeavor by hiring a marketing director or consultant to go out and meet people of interest on your behalf. And remember, your competition is not the enemy - So forge relationships with other physicians in your specialty, as well. Build Allegiance: By providing the best service, you can to both the referring sources and the patients that are referred you will strengthen their allegiance to you. Feedback is an important part of the process so it is wise to develop an on-line survey to send to your referring sources to be sure you are on the mark and meeting their needs. It also keeps your name in front of them - and this is a very good thing! Express Appreciation: Honor your referrals by sending a thank you note and offering value add services. For example, you can offer a lunch and learn program at their practice to educate the entire staff about your specialty and your commitment to their patients. It is another opportunity to thank them for their allegiance. You'll want to thank both staff and physicians and this is a good way to do it. The three A's will have a powerful impact on building the kind of practice you want and gaining an enviable reputation as the "go to" doctor in your specialty. Capko & Company - your source for building a practice that shines. www.capko.com
Our last post talked about some of the key performance indicators a practice can examine to understand how well it is performing. Now we will dig a little deeper and look at other indicators that identify if a practice is above the norm and meeting the expectations the team has set. Managing referrals and the revenue cycle It is important to monitor and compare these additional performance indicators between each physician in the practice from year to year: Top ten CPT codes by utilization: Determines the high demand services and variables between physicians. This report can also be used to track payer reimbursement trends for these top revenue sources. Number of new patient and established patient visits: Monitors practice growth or decline. Referral trends: Tells you who are referring, who is not and how this is changing over time. This is also a good way to evaluate referral management and marketing efforts. Accounts receivable and days in A/R, DAR reveals how well you are doing at bringing in the money. Aged accounts receivable 90 days or more: An important indicator for monitoring internal billing and collection performance. Ideally ,this will be less that 15% of the total A/R. Outstanding claims: If there are variants between physicians there could be contracting issues or differences in physician coding (CPT and ICD) and reporting patterns. The old saying “you cannot manage what you fail to measure” is true. When armed with this data the practice will be able to better understand its position and know what corrective actions and changes need to be made. If this post brings a question to your mind that remains unanswered, contact us by following this link: www.capko.com. We are on your side!
Mastering referrals is an art and a powerful tool in helping you create the practice of your dreams! Define your perfect patient, the demographics, the type of cases and the kind of patient you like to treat. Identify how you can reach those people and build a solid referral network. Create a marketing plan that nurtures the ideal referral sources and keeps your name front and center. Train staff on the solid principles of mastering referrals: Probing the patient to ensure you accurately documenting how the patient heard about your practice and tracking it in your practice management system Provide an outstanding patient experience: an aesthetically attractive and comfortable office; well dressed professional staff; staff and physicians that make each patient feel special from the time she or he calls the office until the bill is paid in full and everything in between; and thank the patient for choosing your practice. Conduct patient surveys to be sure you are on the mark with delivering an awesome patient experience. Honor and nurture referral sources. Thank them, ask if they are pleased with your service and find out if there is something else you can do to make sure they are satisfied. Network and be visible throughout your community. Be grateful and give back: giving of time and resosurces to support the community and causes you believe in. Stay constant in your efforts and measure your progress every quarter. This will help you build strategies that work and make your practice shine. You can be the master of your practice and build the practice of your dreams! Capko & Company; experts in medical practice management, strategic planning and medical marketing.
Whether you're contemplating expanding your practice, starting a new practice, or simply wondering what your practice's profit potential might be, your profits depend on your understanding of local patient demographics. With a host of free online services available, it's easier and less expensive than ever to understand your area's demographics and how they might represent threats or opportunities. You need to know how well your area is being served by your practice-type! One very useful website is www.city-data.com that supplies wide-ranging demographic information on thousands of communities. Among the most telling information is the population and growth trends of your service area -- where your patients come from or nearby areas new patients could come from. Often service areas are defined by geographical barriers, valleys, rivers, etc.. When we work with medical practices, we find that compiling data from the various communities in their service area (and other areas of interest) in a spreadsheet is invaluable. First, we take note of these population demographics: total population, population growth, income and, naturally, any demographic segment particular to your type of practice, such as women, children or the elderly. Next, combine the separate community data so that you can have a single figure for "service area" for each demographic segment. Now that you've compiled data to define the demographics of your service area, you can compare how your service area compares to nearby or similar-sized areas anywhere in the country. Is there a relatively high, low or average number of your practice-type in your service area when compared to similar other regions? You'll need to employ your first-hand knowledge to help you define the "service areas" that compare to yours. Be mindful of population density, income and geography and you should be able to identify at least two competing service areas. You can plug these data from their respective communities into your spreadsheet to calculate the same measures you have for your service area. Now that you've become somewhat of an expert on the population, it's time to gather information on the physicians. You'll goal is to find the number of physicians (FTEs)
If you shut down the phones during the lunch hour you are on the fast track to losing potential new patients and aggravating existing ones. It also results in greater phone traffic when the lines open up again, resulting in chaos.Other service industries would never dream of closing down their phones at lunch. Why? Because being available opens the door to serve their customers better and to gain new business. If you lose 2 new patients a week it could cost you more than $36,000 in lost revenue a year. Employees can stagger their lunches to give you telephone coverage. So stop the lunch hour debacle!Judy Capko is one of America's leading practice management and marketing consultants and author of the runaway top-selling book Secrets of the Best-Run Practices now in its second edition. Check it out by clicking on the book icon at www.capko.com