Are you finding it more difficult to run a profitable practice these days? If so, you’re not alone: Higher operating costs, more regulation and less reimbursement — as well as increased time demands on physicians and practice managers — are making it harder for practices to stay in the black.
To address these issues, you may be focusing on things like how you can reduce costs and improve collections. But if you don’t also take time to look for ways to build strong relationships with patients, payors and vendors, as well as with your own employees, you may find your bottom line falling instead of rising. Here are four relationship-building strategies you can — and should — implement to improve the success of your practice:
- Conduct a SWOT analysis. By evaluating your practice’s overall strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you can identify the changes needed to improve service deliver y and administration, as well as to keep abreast of trends and developments that can shape your future. Improvements in these areas can, in turn, help you build stronger relationships with patients, payors, vendors and staff. For example, beefing up your ability to serve the rapidly growing senior citizen population could enable you to strengthen your relationships with these patients and, ultimately, increase both revenue and profit.
- Exceed patient expectations. Patients naturally expect excellent medical care. But they want more: consideration, clarity and pleasantness in ever y interaction they have with your practice. So make sure providers and staff are trained in customer service, do your best to minimize wait times, thank patients for choosing your practice and ask what you could to improve their service experiences. Also, take steps to address any issues that arise, so the word-of-mouth about your practice doesn’t become negative.
- Pay attention to external relationships. Vendors, payors, institutional affiliates and other outside parties consist of people like you. The better you get along with them, the easier it will be for you to serve patients and run your practice. So it helps to develop and maintain good relationships with the people you work with in other organizations. Among other things, this means paying bills on time, treating your contacts with respect and courtesy, and looking for ways to improve the relationships you have with them.
- Treat your people well. Staff members often have more contact with patients than your physicians do. Therefore, keep them informed about the practice, respect their ideas and suggestions, accommodate their needs, and create a work environment that helps them perform at their best. The better they serve patients, the better your practice will do — and the higher your bottom line will go.