4 Ways to Cut Practice Costs Without Cutting Staff

The trials and tribulations of running your own practice can take a toll on you, physically, mentally and financially. And when medical practices – big and small – struggle to make ends meet, the last thing a practice owner or administrator wants to do is cut their staff. Depending on how you manage your practice, your employees are like family, and no one wants to say goodbye to a beloved family member. If you’re having trouble controlling your operating costs and meeting your bottom line, here are a few simple ways you can cut costs without cutting staff and compromising the healthcare needs of your patients.

Just as in your personal life, you may have to cut certain luxuries out of your professional life. One hundred dollars in savings from different areas of your practice could add up to thousands of dollars in overall savings without affecting your patients’ experiences.

Tips to keep in mind when looking for a revenue boost are: negotiating prices with vendors, thrifting or bargain hunting, being cost-conscious, and knowing exactly where your money is going and when. Key areas within your practice to apply these tips include: office supplies and equipment, medical supplies, energy costs, and billing and coding.

1.      Office supplies and equipment

While having some reading material in the waiting room is a good way for patients to pass the time, avoid signing up for dozens of magazine subscriptions that will eventually begin collecting dust. Consider replacing these publications with health or practice-related literature. Most of these can be provided free of charge by various member organizations, including the American Health Association, the American Diabetes Association or the American Family Physician journal. You can even ask your staff to bring in some magazines they are no long using for the waiting room.

Another easy way to save money is to purchase your everyday office supplies in bulk such as paper, pens, printer ink, receipts, etc. which will be less expensive than buying them on an as-needed basis. If you’re considering redecorating or need additional office pieces, take the eco-friendly route and buy slightly used medical equipment and furniture. Research vendors that specialize in selling, renting or auctioning used medical equipment such as LabX, DotMed and Science Equipment Liquidators.

2.      Vaccines and medical supplies

Similar to regular office supplies, you can purchase large amounts of medical supplies for lower costs. This can be done through group purchasing. If you are part of an association, your membership may open the door to various discounts and savings, so you can stock up on your most ordered supplies. To further cut down on costs, consider purchasing supplies like vaccines directly from the manufacturer – effectively cutting out the middle man who can absorb additional costs. But keep in mind that you may need to negotiate contracts with these suppliers who usually deliver on an as-needed basis. This is especially crucial if you want to ensure you have enough vaccines in time for the flu or back-to-school season.

Also, physicians should keep an eye out for new vendors who often provide free trials of the latest products and supplies. Snatch up as many savings as you can to put thousands of dollars back into your business.

 3.      Energy bills

You’ve probably heard this time and time again, but it’s important that you find as many ways as possible to save on your energy bill. Most of the following tips are fairly simple to implement and can be applied to your home as well.

  • Turn off unnecessary lights at the end of the day
  • Install energy-efficient light bulbs or motion-sensor lights
  • Shut down computers at the end of the day
  • Use an energy supplier with fixed rates
  • Install a programmable thermostat

By better managing your energy consumption, you could save hundreds of dollars that could be used to help with overhead expenses. Plus, you’ll be helping out the environment in the process.

 4.      Incorrect billing

One of the biggest financial pitfalls that plagues all practices is incorrect billing and coding, which can take many forms. Whether your staff is slow in collecting patient receivables, coding at the incorrect levels, or downcoding certain services, your practice could be leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table. In fact, a single doctor could lose $40,000 from downcoding, according to Medical Economics.

Hiring well-trained staff can streamline your medical billing process and increase the profitability of your practice. While mistakes can happen (your staff is human, after all), they are also avoidable. By closely monitoring patient health records and claim payments, you can catch errors and report them quickly which will come in handy in the event that you are audited.

Cutting costs within your practice isn’t just about penny pinching or keeping staff members off the chopping block. It’s about making smart financial decisions to improve your practice’s bottom line. As a practice owner, it is in your best interest to do everything you can to improve operational costs, boost employee morale, and maintain a healthy, happy clientele.

Tell us: What have you done with your practice to cut costs without reducing staff?


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