4 Challenges of Managing a Medical Office

Medical office managers across the US report having the same or very similar challenges. It can be helpful to join a forum to share stories, as well as offer and receive excellent advice. Sometimes it is just helpful to know you are not the only one.


Rising Operating Costs

Emergency physicians

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Decreasing physician payments, fewer patients, and high technology costs can be financially crippling. The best way to handle rising operating costs is to monitor them and then develop a plan to cut costs. Three areas that can add up to thousands of dollars in savings per year include:

  1. Office supplies: Remember these words—reduce, reuse, and recycle. Learning to use office supplies wisely can cut costs substantially such as cutting used paper into squares instead of buying sticky notes. Going paperless and bargain shopping for the best price are other ways to lower office supply costs.
  2. Medical supplies: Buy medical supplies as needed. Buying in bulk can save money but if you don't need it, don't buy it. Some supplies have a limited shelf life and could cost you more in the long run if you have to throw them away. You can also try to identify opportunities to get free trials from vendors promoting new products.
  3. Office equipment: Try to find used office equipment for sale when making large purchases. There are a number of online resources that you can find great prices for office equipment from going out of business sales. Online auctions are also an excellent way to find older equipment at low prices.

Hiring and Retaining Medical Office Staff

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Outsourcing human resource duties can lower costs, especially for a small practice. However, if you choose to keep this responsibility in-house, you must be proactive in hiring and retaining medical office staff. High turnover can be costly and hurt office efficiency and patient satisfaction. Offering an excellent benefits package, having a recruiting strategy and knowing how to motivate your employees are key to finding and keeping a productive office staff.

  1. Employees view the benefits package, in addition to salary, as a significant factor in their decision to apply for or accept employment within an organization. Quality employees can be a lot easier to attract if your medical office is offering an attractive benefits package.
  2. Recruiting a successful medical office staff is an important responsibility. Customers of a medical office are not typical customers. They are patients that expect the highest quality of care and some may be in the midst of a medical crisis that requires delicate handling. Not only is it important for the staff to have certain professional skills and strengths, but it is also imperative that they understand that patient lives are reliant on the quality of their work. Effective planning is essential for recruiting success.
  3. As the leader of your organization, one of your many responsibilities is to find ways to motivate your employees. It is important to understand what factors influence maximum performance and how.

Negotiating Managed Care Contracts

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Negotiating managed care contracts requires comprehensive knowledge of the contracting process. This generally includes reimbursement rates, effective and termination dates, claim filing guidelines, payment terms and other contract provisions.

Before you attempt to renegotiate your contract, consider the following:

  1. Perform a market assessment to re-evaluate the case mix
  2. Compare contracts to determine if any are out of balance with market competition
  3. Take a realistic approach regarding payment methods

Collecting Patient Payments

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In recent years, the entire health care industry has become more aggressive in their collection practices. With the ever-rising costs associated with health care, it is extremely important to the livelihood of any facility to get the maximum reimbursement which largely relies on patient payments. Collecting patient payments can prove to be a lot less difficult when:

  1. Advises patients prior to their visit of your collection policy preferably during scheduling.
  2. Make sure you have signs posted in your office advising patients of your collection procedures.
  3. Offer discounts for patients as an incentive to pay their bills in a timely manner.
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