How to Be Lean and Not Mean

These are trying times. Our economy is in turmoil. How can a physician survive and even thrive in this environment?

The obvious answer is to increase your income and reduce your costs. However, these things must be done delicately or you’ll harm rather than improve your profit. Don’t lose sight of your goals.

When reducing costs and staff, be careful not to destroy what makes your medical practice attractive to your patients. Do not cut your staff so they can no longer be polite and a little chatty with your patients (especially the older ones), confirm appointments, call patients after surgery and spend time on the phone with new patients to make them feel welcome.

Make sure you retain sufficient personnel to bill and collect your fees properly, on a timely basis and keep the transcription and filing current.

Think about having part time employees instead of full time to do the filing, transcribing, send statements, and escort patients into and out of your exam rooms. Mothers with school age children, retired people, high school and college students are prime candidates for steady, part time work. In many instances, they are overqualified for the job, but cannot find positions with flexible hours that fit around their primary responsibilities. Part time staff is cost effective. They work only when needed, have no down time and receive few or no benefits.

Lesson: When cutting back, be sure to trim the fat, not the heart of your practice.