End of Year Practice Clean Up – So You Can Start the New Year Off Right

michelle-tohillBy Michelle Tohill

During this time of year, we’re all busy with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but it’s also a time many people reflect on the past year and look forward to the new year to come. For businesses, it’s also a great time to reflect on the past year – what could we have done better? What are we going to do better next year? What worked, what didn’t? Where can we make changes that can impact our bottom line next year?

Take a hard look at the following for an effective end of year clean up:

  • Billing

Take a moment to analyze your billing process – are you outsourcing or using in-house staff for billing? Either way, you should look at their performance. Many practices experience surprisingly low rates of reimbursement success. This is usually due to the fact that billers focus their time and skills on the easy claims, leaving many challenging claims under-reimbursed. Take a look at your reimbursement success and consider whether there are improvements to be made.

From a software standpoint, is your billing software providing the efficiencies and effectiveness that your practice needs? Are you getting regular updates from your software vendor? Can you quickly and easily get a snapshot of A/R results? Are you getting reimbursed quickly? Is there money being left on the table? Now would be the time to consider changing or upgrading your billing procedures if you’re unhappy with the answers to these questions. The goal should always be improving reimbursement rates and cash flow.

  • Inventory

If you carry any inventory in your practice, then now is the time to analyze your inventory optimization processes. Did you waste money on over-stocking certain products? Did you lose money by consistently having certain products out of stock? Managing inventory can be a time-consuming process, but it can also make a huge impact on your bottom line. Now is the time to review the software you are utilizing for inventory management. Is it making your job easier? Consider upgrading or getting additional training on your inventory software to make sure you maximize your income in 2016.

  • Taxes

Taxes aren’t due until April, but end of year is a good time to categorize and account for everything you need for a streamlined tax return process. Review your depreciations and write-offs and research whether or not a big purchase in this fiscal year could financially benefit or hurt your practice. Your billing software and inventory management software should make it relatively easy for you to run reports to prepare for tax season. If not, contact your software vendors to find out what you need to do to gain features that will help you better manage tax optimization next year.

Meet with your tax accountant now and see if there are any last-minute deductions that you should try to fit into 2015. Even if you don’t squeeze in a meeting before January 1, still schedule your first 2015 tax meeting soon so that you don’t get lost in the rush that inevitably comes March-April.

  • Personnel

This can be a tough area to tackle, but it definitely needs attention and could seriously impact the flow of your practice. Each member of your staff needs to be operating in an efficient manner in order to make sure all the moving parts of the office are working together. Are there any redundancies in your staff? Is the staff spend too much time on tasks that could be completed more efficiently? Is your staff in need of education or training? Some major changes occurred this year with ICD-10 and implementation of EMV standards, so it would be a good idea to make sure everyone is up to speed.

Take a hard look at your staff and determine whether they are performing at optimal level. If not, then now is a good time to consider training programs, consulting agreements, and other resources that might improve their performance next year. Consider some hard performance evaluations if there are employees who have not improved their performance in 2015.

  • Patient Communication

Patient satisfaction and overall health are the real reasons medical practices exist, even though this humble mission might get eclipsed by the barrage of fires that need to be put out on a daily basis. At this time of year, you need to be thinking about how you can serve your patients better. Are they satisfied when they leave your office? Are their concerns being met? Do they feel heard and listened to? Are you capturing all the pertinent information to make sure there is financial accountability for this patient? Are they paying their copays? Does your staff use a patient portal on their practice management software to account for pertinent information like a stored credit card on file for copays and outstanding bills? It sounds simple, but having something like this in place can save time and money for your practice and this patient communication process should be revisited and improved upon often.

Michelle Tohill is Director of Revenue Cycle Management of Bonafide Management Systems and oversees all billing programs and processes. Her specialty is conducting AR audits to expose inefficient billing practices that fail to fully reimburse physicians for their work. She conducts AR audits and provides Bonafide customers with training and consulting on how to improve every aspect of billing and practice management to maximize revenue.

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