Friday, May 29, 2009

I remembered this article from months ago and thought it may have relevance in today's tougher economy.  The 13 tips provided by PRMG are a checklist for all of us interested in the establishing processes to improve billing and collections.  The synopsis of the tips are presented for your review.  You can view the article at

nAudit Charge-Capture
nCash and Financial Controls
Front desk collections
Insurance payment posting
nManage patient demographics
nEditing software
Correct code initiative
Carrier payment policies
nDaily billing
nElectronic claims
nClearinghouse for all claims
nMonitor payment levels
nFollow-up quickly on slow-payors
nAggressively manage you relationships with payors
nSystematically manage you Medicare supplements
nAvoid billing-collect all co-payments at time-of-service
nUse you practice management computer system to manage receivables.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blogging is the New Newsletter

Think about it.  How many times over the past weeks and months have we heard about another newspaper in financial trouble?  The simple fact is, we are changing the way we want news and other information.  And, the internet has enabled not only the speed of information, but when we choose to read it.  

For years I have advocated that medical practices have efficient and well-constructed websites. Providing the access of information for your patients remains the best, and probably, the most economical way to market your practice and services.  Of course, your website needs to be logical, well-designed, and attractive to meet the desires of today's patients.  Likewise, your site must be optomized to ensure your prospective patients can easily find you.  These items are critical in today's electronic media age.

Now, bring on social networking.  Internet tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn have permeated the culture.  Various cable news networks even ask that viewers "tweet" them while they are on the air.  In this way, the networks are reaching their viewers in real time.  Likewise, recent Presidential candidate Barrack Obama used the social networking pheomenna to fuel the electorate to get out to vote.  President Obama's use of the internet in this way will now shape future elections.  

So, how do you tap into this opportunity.  It is as simple as a blog.  Becoming a "blogger" is actually fairly easy.  Communicating to your patients with this tool is essentially free.  You merely need to take the time to post routinely.  Of course, physicians are busy people, spreading their time between patient care, running the business and having a personal life.  Well, blogging can be "sourced out."  There are a number of companies now that conduct phone call interview with you  and then write your blog.  You review it.  Then it gets posted.

And here's the best part.  When its posted, alerts go out to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, other sites and and even your patient's email that you have posted a new blog.  As your patients "follow" you, you are staying in touch with them, e.g., the ultimate electronic newsletter.  This newletter is current and available when your patients and prospective patients want it.   Likewise, prospective patients can find you when they Google.  As a side benefit, these additional links can improve your search engine ratings.

Consider discussing this opportunity with your web designer, or, give Primoro, Inc. a call.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Efficient Meetings

The Association of Dermatology Administrators/Managers (ADA/M) completed its update to their 2008-2009 Strategic Plan this past weekend.  We were in Columbus, OH and worked through the update in a day and a half.  There were many initiatives and without a solid plan, an agenda and a few tricks up my sleeve, we could have easily been there three days.  Instead, we stayed on task and completed the update and left Columbus having accomplished our goals.

Every successful meeting is founded in preparation.  Here are basics:
  • Establish you goals and meeting outcomes
  • Establish your time allocation
  • Establish your agenda
  • Establish meeting preparation materials
Your goals and objectives are the foundation of the meeting.  They must be specific, reasonable and actionable.  The more specific you cna make your objectives more the more assured you will be in getting the results you are looking for.

Make sure you allocate enough time to accomplish the goals you set.  Many meeting result in
 less than optimal results because too little time is allocated.  If your available time is limited you may consider editing and priotizing your goals.  Its better to fully accomplish one goal than to meeting multiple goals only part of the way.

Next, set up your agenda, keeping your goals and time allocation in mind.  Segment your meeting into reasonable chunks to fully accomplish each segment.

Preparation of any pre-meeting material is crucial for an effective meeting.  Your participants will appreciate the opportunity to prepare for the meeting.  These materials should be focused on your meeting goals and meeting goals only.  Too much material invites you and your attendees to go off task and on tangents that are hard to reel in.

We've all heard the cliche, "Beating a Dead Horse."  Well no meeting leader wants to stifle conversation, but if the conversation is off task, control must be regained.  Here's a trick I've used for years and it works beautifully.  Find yourself a stuffed horse toy.  
Introduce the stuffed horse to the audience and let them know he/she will be monitoring the discussion, looking for tangents that might starting beating the dead horse.  It is so funny - if the discussion moves off task, merely reaching for the stuffed horse reels the audience back to the task.  Believe me, no one wants to be the one beating the dead horse.

A word about the Association of Dermatology Administrators/Managers (ADA/M).  This is a professional society dedicated to providing the best business resources to the dermatologist and their practice.  The 
ADA/M Board of Directors is committed to providing their membership with the support to tackle nearly every management issue that arises.  I am particularly impressed with their networking opportunity.  For those you who are members of ADA/M, congratulations.  You are part of a very dynamic group--top notch.  For those of you not involved with ADA/M, you may want to consider it.  It is worth it!  For more on ADA/M you can visit their website at       


Monday, May 11, 2009

Marketing and Your Budget

Over the years I have been asked comment on how much should a medical practice spend on marketing and advertising.  Well, the conventional recommendation most consultants point to is 3-5% of collected revenue.  While that number can vary, the most important thing to know is what the return on investment (ROI) is.  After conducting many financial revenues, the percent of collected revenue spent on marketing can be highly diverse.

First, recognize, there is no right answer.  What you choose to spend depends greatly on your type of practice.  Start up practices can expect to have a higher percentage early on, then settle back towards the norm.  Established practices may spend very little simply because of their position within the community.  Again, it is not how much you spend, but are you getting an appropriate return.

In evaluating return, you first need to where you invest your marketing dollars.  Do you do internal marketing?  That is, are you actively seeking to satisfy the needs or explore the value of new services/products for your established patients?  Again, conventions suggest this is the best spend.  It is very expensive to seek new patients and selling new products or services to established patients greatly increases your ROI.  I have found most practices "mine" their patient data poorly.  As a suggestion, take a look at your current product or service offering.  Are there products or services that naturally go together?  Probably so.  Now, search your data for patients who have received one of those services, but not the other.  Congratulations, you have just "mined" you data.  The next step is to create a marketing communication to those patients to sell the "other" service.

As you might expect, external marketing, can and is expensive.  It is also difficult to evaluate ROI.  I once conducted a marketing training program for a group of plastic surgeons.  One physician asked what my thoughts on the use of billboards.  Well, not much.  Three reasons. First, cost and limited ability to track ROI.  Second, are the unlikely patients that respond to the billboard the patients that you want?  And thirdly, is this the proper communication to your community about your practice.  Unless you have exhausted all of your internal marketing opportunities, and you have $3-5,000, just sitting around, billboards are probably not your best investment.  

There are some clear choices to be made when it comes to deciding how you are going to market your practice and how much you spend.  In today's environment, the power of the internet marketing and having a solid website is key.  If you are curious what the next phase in internet marketing is, well, it's already here.  Can you say Twitter, FaceBook?  Yes, social networking, the next big thing in medical practice marketing.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Behavioral Styles

Human behavior has been studied for centuries.   The ancient Greeks believed human behavior was founded in their four fundamental liquids of the body:  blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm.  It is no surprise that the traits associated with each of the fluids descibed a persons demeanor.  
  • Blood - an optimistic person
  • Yellow Bile - an irritable perosn
  • Black Bile - sluggish and lazy behavior
  • Phlegm -a gloomy outlook on life.
Later, physcologists attempted to understand behaviors with studies primarily confined to the mentally ill and criminally insane.

In the late 1920's William Moulton Marston, a physcologist, published Emotions of Normal People, from which, the DiSC theroy of human behvior styles was derived.  In his work, Marston described human behaviorals as combination of four key attributes:
  • Dominance - shape their environment by overcoming opposition
  • Influence - shape environment by influencing others
  • Steadiness - coopperates with others to achieve goals
  • Conscientious - ensures quality and accuracy in their environment
Today, you can use Marston's findings to help you improve office efficiency and staff relations.  The Disc Profile is avaiable on many websites for about $25 per booklet.  It is self administered, easy and fun to do.  What is really important is that you and your staff learn about their own behavioral style.  More importantly, you and your staff learn how to identify a variety of behavioral styles and how to interact with them.  Imagine an office in better harmony amongst the staff, and, better interaction with the patient.

I have used DiSC on many occasions and have found the learnings beneficial for the practice.  I am sure you will find the same.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Strategic Planning

How many of you have a strategic plan?  Over the past month, I have been working with a group that is in the process of updating their strategic plan.  This should be lesson for all of us. Strategic plans are not a one time process, but instead, a living document, worthy of updates and our accountability to the plan.

To simplify your development of a strategic plan, you may want to use the four basic pillars of business as your guide: financial, business processes, employee relations and customer/patient relations.  By doing so, you can easily categorize your efforts to ensure you have accountability. 

Once you have identified your various actions steps and properly categorized them, it is essential that you prioritize these actions.  While all may be important, there is clearly a prioritzation in your mind.  Again, keeping to this prioritizaiton ensures accountability remains intact.  

And speaking of accountability, the next step is to assign the action step to the appropriate staff member.  I like assigning accountability to one person as that ensures there are no excuses...accountabilty stays intact.  Of course, teams may be developed to complete an action step, but make sure you assign the leader, who in turn, is accountable.

Lastly, make sure identify timelines.  Timelines can be further defined by establishing milestone points in the action step process.  Merely setting a completion date leaves too much risk that the action step may not be completed.  Setting milestones and associated dates ensures your teams are fully engaged in the process.

As stated before,  stragtegic plans are living, moving documents.  Our changing environment, economic, new technology development, etc. force us to review and update the plan as necessary.  At minimum, you should be reviewing your strategic plan progress every six months, and, at critical milestone dates.

Practices that develop and more importantly, managed their business with the benefit of a strategic plan, are in better shape to succeed in challenging times.  There are many resources avaiable to you in establishing your strategic plan.  If Primoro, Inc. can be of service, give us a call.