Another Ending, Another Beginning

Here we are again, the end of another year!  We’ve seen a lot happen in 2010 and 2011 promises to be equally intense.  Tired of hearing about Obamacare?  Well, get used to it! The battle for and against this monster legislation will rage throughout 2011 and all of us will have to be savvy in managing in and around whatever form it ultimately takes.  My suggestion?  Focus on what you can control; your practice, your operation.  As you assess 2010 and look forward to 2011, here are some things to consider that sit within your span of control:

1) What are your plans for growing revenue in 2010?  Downward pressure on reimbursements continues.  Now, more than ever, physicians are being forced to look beyond typical medical services to expand their base of revenue.  Are you evaluating pharmaceuticals, nutri-ceuticals or other products as practice enhancers?  New or existing dispensing systems may enable you to easily add products to your mix.

2) What are the biggest threats to your practice?  Are your medical supplies prices increasing? Are your referrals decreasing?  Many hospitals and physicians are reporting a decrease in procedures.  Physicians need to actively track these trends and look for ways to address them proactively.  Trends may be avoidable but you are not helpless; there are always options.

3) Who’s on your team?  Does your staff mix bring additional value to patients through enhanced services or extended hours?  Clinics carrying non-value added resources need to carefully consider their options.  Many clinics are leveraging physician time with nurse practitioners and physician assistants.  Reimbursement rates may affect the viability of these resources but they should still be considered. 

4) What are you doing to be different or enhance your practice? Are you doing anything with nutrition, anti-aging, disease management or weight management?  Procedures may be down but there are people looking for specific treatments. Do you continually evaluate new options and procedures for your practice?  No time? Can you afford not to?

5) Who are your competitors? Quick clinics in pharmacies?  Practice buy-outs by hospitals?  Government funded clinics? Evaluate their value-propositions and determine if there are elements of their offer that could work in your practice.  Are there expansion risks you could take that would enhance your business?

6) If you offer medications, what is the mix of products?  Do you evaluate products on an ongoing basis?  What is moving, what isn’t?  What products are moving to generics that will be viable for clinic-dispensing?  Are you carrying items that are losers for the practice?  Are you charging enough?  What worked last year might not work this year.  Don’t be afraid to change it up.

Though I remain biased towards physician dispensing as a low-cost, low-risk way of enhancing your practice.  There are many alternatives.  The winners in 2010 will find ways to extend their services, add extra value to existing patients and attract new ones.  Will that be you?

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