10 Ways Physicians Can Reduce Operating Costs Amid the Pandemic

By Christian Amabile, Account Executive

10 Ways Physicians Can Reduce Operating Costs Amid the Pandemic

Revenue for physicians and physician groups has taken a hit during the pandemic because of a decline in patient visits.

In the early months of the pandemic, most physician offices were closed as lockdowns began and states asked that non-urgent procedures be put on hold. Many physician practices had to furlough workers. As states began to lift restrictions and reopen, patients remained hesitant to visit the doctor’s office for fear of exposure to the virus. Now, as we head into the holiday season and colder temperatures, the country is facing another COVID resurgence in the coming months.

Overhead costs like payroll, rent, utilities and medical malpractice insurance typically exceeds 60% of billings for a physician practice, and this number growing. To stay afloat and keep practices open, physicians may need to find ways to reduce costs and increase profits. We’ve got some tips for you.

  1. Offer telemedicine. Telehealth and remote care have exploded during the pandemic as patients check in remotely to avoid exposure. Setting up telehealth services can drastically increase the number of patient appointments for your practice. Even surgical procedures can benefit from telehealth follow-ups. But do ask your insurance broker to scrutinize your policy. Many carriers have placed restrictions on telemedicine, so diligence will be needed to comply with all insurance requirements.

  2. Consider after-hours visits. If you have already implemented telemedicine as a patient option, extending office hours can both increase the number of daily patient visits and provide added convenience.

  3. Make payments easy for patients. Have you set up Venmo in your office? Accepting multiple payment options, reminding patients of outstanding payments prior to the visit and sending out payment reminders go a long way in helping with collection.

  4. Institute cancellation fees. Having a transparent cancellation fee policy can reduce the number of missed appointments.

  5. Look into value-based contracts. Health care has seen a huge trend in recent years toward value-based care. See if value-based contracts and shared risk make sense for your practice.

  6. Reduce unnecessary spending. Seeing fewer patients in the office? If so, you should be able to order fewer supplies to cut overhead. You might need to consider reducing staff hours if patient loads are down.

  7. Go virtual. Eliminating paper mailings and going virtual saves money in the long run.

  8. Get energy efficient. Reduce your carbon footprint and your monthly spend with energy efficient lighting, and heating and cooling.

  9. Shop your insurance around. Like most insurance markets, the medical malpractice market has hardened, along with property and casualty. With COVID-related claims and lawsuits beginning to play out, there is still a lot of uncertainty about how this will affect insurance pricing. But you can still shop around for better rates, as well as others spends such as payer contracts, service providers, software, and medical supplies.

  10. Crowd-source your cost cutting. Your staff are the eyes and ears of the office. Enlist them to help identify areas of waste and cost-cutting measures. Incentivizing them to save the office money with contests, prizes or bonuses will engage them and give you a better view into your operations.

Belt tightening is never easy, and you want to be sure not to cut so much that it has ill effects on your business. A smart, thoughtful approach to the effort could ensure your group or office continues its practice.

As always, working with an insurance broker who has access to all the markets and deep knowledge of your specialty is critical.

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