According to a recent survey, 84 percent of physicians questioned said their practices’ finances were the same, or worse, than the year before. Research by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) showed that the cost of running a practice had increased at double the rate of the consumer price index during the preceding 11 years.
Together, these statistics highlight the difficulties US physicians face when trying to maintain a successful practice. Medical practices play an essential role in communities across the States, providing a private health-care service with more personal attention than hospitals can afford with so many patients and time-restrictions.
If a practice can no longer manage to stay open, then patients will lose a vital service, and be without a professional to offer advice, reassurance, examinations, and more. Saving money wherever possible is more important than ever for today’s medical practices – so what can physicians do to cut costs without sacrificing patients’ quality of service?
1. Reduce Advertising Costs
In the digital age, advertising is much different to how it was in the past. Marketing practices in print is no longer as necessary: physicians can advertise their services online for free, or at a very cost-effective price.
If medical practices are spending high amounts on print advertising, then this should be reconsidered. Substituting ads in local newspapers, in phonebooks, and perhaps even on posters or billboards for online campaigns will reduce costs without limiting reach. Social media may be an effective way to engage with communities (perhaps sharing news of new services or changes within the medical sector).
To find out how effective current advertising methods are, practices may want to conduct brief surveys with patients, to find out how they heard of the center.
2. Expand Staff’s Responsibilities
Overheads consume money during the running of a medical practice: the more staff that are employed, the higher the expense of salaries.
If a practice is facing financial strains, taking a new member of staff on is not the best idea, and should be avoided if possible. Physicians and managers should consider the motivation to employ a new team-member, and whether the responsibilities to be assigned to them can be taken on by any current staff.
While it is very important to avoid spreading teams too thin, asking staff to perform certain new duties can help to avoid the extra expense of paying an entire additional salary. While this is likely to be easier with administrative staff, doctors and nurses may also consider diving extra work between themselves to save the practice money. This should only be considered if staff will be able to cope, and are happy for extra responsibilities: overworked, unhappy team-members will only lead to more problems, not solutions.
3. Save on Energy Bills with a Greener Outlook
All businesses may be surprised at the amount of money they spend on energy without realizing, and medical practices are no different. Lighting, computers, heating, air-conditioning, medical equipment, charging cell phones and more can all contribute to high bills, particularly when used for ten hours a day, five or six days per week.
By embracing a more energy-conscious approach, medical practices can make big savings. Ideas include: turning off lights when specific rooms are out of use; shutting computers down when unneeded; and turning the thermostat down during the night and over weekends. Even small changes will all add up, and reduce expenses over time.
4. Ask for Discounts on Office Supplies
Medical practices may use digital spreadsheets, email, and other online functions in their everyday administrative tasks, but stationery is still essential. Pens, pencils, paper, and more all add extra expense to running a practice, and the cost of maintaining the necessary stock can be higher than many realize.
To reduce costs, practices can ask suppliers for discounts on bulk purchases, particularly if they have been customers for a considerable time. If the supplier refuses, shop around to find alternatives, and weigh price plans against each other. Buying certain items – printers, computers – second-hand is also a good way to cut costs.
5. Buy Refurbished Medical Equipment
Buying brand new equipment every time an older piece appears to stop working is often an unnecessary expense. Used equipment, such as a refurbished endoscope, allows practices to acquire supplies at much more competitive prices than buying as new.
Practices should choose reputable companies with experience supplying refurbished, high-quality equipment. These professionals are also likely to repair items when possible, allowing practices to get more out of their investments and keep using the equipment they are familiar with.
A refurbished endoscope, stethoscope, or other essential item will be fixed to meet or exceed the manufacturer’s original specifications, ensuring high-quality performance and value for money.
There are other ways to save money, but medical practices will see significant savings with the five methods explored above.
Kyle McManus is a freelance writer based in the UK. This article was prepared on behalf of Pro Scope Systems.