Every time I give a presentation to consultants wishing to start a private practice it’s pretty much guaranteed, I’ll get asked about having a website. In particular, I’ll be asked – do I need one?
Short answer: YES!!
Ah! – Comes the response from a fellow presenter with a very well established practice – I don’t have one. I don’t need one. That may be so because he is well established. But for someone just starting out being on the private hospital’s website, just being on the PMI website or on a directory of consultants is not enough. Neither is, although still a big source of referrals, having patients referred only by a GP.
Patients are much, much more switched on these days. They will trawl the Internet looking for whom they consider being a suitable surgeon with whom to book a consultation. They may still ask their GP for an opinion. And then be concerned if the GP recommends another surgeon because the surgeon is a friend of the GP. What does the GP do if he doesn’t know a suitable surgeon? Yep – he goes to the Internet too.
The bad news is that it is not just a case of building a website. I call it the “build it and they will come” principle. Websites need to be maintained and refreshed – at least every six months. Then there is the question of social media.
MHM don’t build websites nor do we manage social media for its clients. It’s far too complicated. We just pass on the requirement to one of our partner organisations. Based on the analysis of MHM clients with a website and those without, it is pretty clear those with a website see more patients.
You sure you can’t be bothered with all this Internet stuff?? How many of you still rely on GP referrals only?
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One of the often-asked questions is: what’s outsourced private medical practice management. That’s not an unreasonable question if you think about it.
The question actually splits into two:
So, the first question, what is outsourcing?
Outsourcing may be defined as the transfer of a function previously performed internally, say by the consultant’s medical secretary, to an outside agency or person.
Fine, but why? If that person is already performing the task why outsource?
Two reasons primarily:
This does NOT mean medical secretaries can’t do the task or like doing the task. Med-secs are the unsung heroes of the medical profession in my view.
But there is a third reason, a more important one too. The medical secretary has just about enough to do organising clinics, theatres, typing letters to patients, corresponding with GPs, answering a constantly ringing telephone etc.
In other words he/she is looking after the patients.
Ahh comes the response; my medical secretary can certainly squeeze another hour or so into her week to handle say the medical billing side too!!
Really? Have you asked them? More importantly if she can “squeeze” another hour or so in shouldn’t she use those hours to improve the customer service to the patients?
Finally of course, are you comfortable letting your medical secretary be responsible for a business i.e. YOUR medical practice and a £100,000+ per annum turnover? Or even £50,000 worth of turnover?
The normal response is to say: I agree. I’ll ask Jane to outsource everything that’s a problem. Save of course it’s not that simple!
So, secondly, what can be outsourced?
Turn it on its head to answer that. What would you like the front office of your practice to look like? What impression do you want to give when a patient writes in or telephones?
You want your practice to seem ultra professional and ultra efficient with letters going out on time and phones being answered quickly etc. This may not happen IF you don’t have as many of the support functions away from the “front” office as you can.
But not all of them!
Create the time for the med-sec to run the medical side of the practice and deal with the patients, outsource the rest:
There are others of course but the above are pretty much guaranteed to be candidates for outsourcing. Leave in place talking to patients; organising clinics; writing to patients or GPs; checking you know where you’ll be next Tuesday. In other words let the medical secretary do what she does best. Organise your professional life and outsource the rest of the practice.
But outsourcing is not necessarily turnover related. Some of the guys only need an hour a week; others need an hour a day; one needs a whole day each week. All are outsourced and all are reporting an increase in the number of patients they see and thereby earning more money.
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Most excess charges are between £75 or £100. Of course, sometimes they can be higher or even lower but often they are £75 or £100.
This in itself is not a problem. It’s just as easy to send an EXCESS INVOICE out for £75 as it is for £100. The problem arises though when the patient either pays by BACS or sends a cheque in.
It’s not unusual at all to see the same credits on client’s bank account statement with no details against them.
Thus when you come to do a bank reconciliation how do you know who has paid what?
The simple answer is when you raise an invoice for an excess charge make sure you ask the patient to quote the invoice number when making the payment.
The excess invoice number must be unique as it always should be for an ordinary invoice anyway. At least then you should be able to identify who has paid what and why.
But do patients really pay without putting the details on the back of the cheque or returning the invoice without the details? Don’t they always put the invoice number with their BACS payment?
Reality check – no they sometimes don’t.
If you don’t ask them to in any event you are fairly certain to end up with un-identified payments on the practice bank statement. And that is bad news!
Its bad news because it leads to excess invoices being paid and not being recorded as such. Many times MHM has been called in to chase old debt i.e. debt over a year old and in doing so receives numerous phone calls and emails from patients who claim to have already paid. Indeed they have.
So the reality of the situation is for the client to believe they are owed thousands of pounds from say 2 years ago when they are not. All this can be easily averted if when a payment is made for excess it is correctly recorded on the ledger. If the payment cannot be identified it should be shown as such on the ledger also.
It is very easy to do this.
Contact me if you wish to know how!
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