Archive for June, 2013

Collecting out-of-pocket payments in one of the greatest challenges hospitals and practices experience today. A 2010 study reports that approximately 10 percent of practitioner revenues were directly from patients in that year and about 58 percent of all bad debts came from outstanding patient accounts. As out-of-pocket payment is increasingly becoming a large portion of practitioner revenue having the right plan for addressing collections on patient accounts is important to ensuring patient satisfaction and retention. Here are three keys to successfully collecting more from patients without hurting satisfaction:

  1. 1.       Be up-front about what patients owe. Providers need to alter their billing processes so it more closely resembles consumers’ retail transactions. This concept helps the patient to not avoid payment or neglect an account balance. Investing in an effective patient estimation tool allows more accurate calculations of patient services helping both the patient and provider keep better track of funds owed.
  2. 2.       Collect as soon as possible. Many patients are willing to pay their bills sooner than they currently are. Practitioners provide patients with an accurate estimate of their financial responsibility would help eliminate outstanding balances. Setting up a payment plan in advance can also help to collect payment sooner as well as make the billing process less expensive for providers.
  3. 3.       Improve practice workflow. It is important for providers to know how to use their patient information as it can help in effectively altering workflow and processes. Train front-line staff to be effective billing agents and communicators. Take advantage of every patient-provider interaction to provide helpful reminders and exceptional customer care.

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In healthcare marketing, producing dynamic and descriptive diction can present difficulties when attempting to avoid common words that that have lost their impact. HealthLeaders Media correspondent Jacqueline Fellows highlights syntax not synonymous with success in healthcare marketing.

Healthcare marketing executives have developed their own list of words to avoid within the industry and campaigns. Adapted from a 1970s comedic segment by George Carlin, executives highlight seven words that should not be utilized in internal or external marketing strategies:

  1. Comprehensive
  2. Integrated
  3. Continuum
  4. Advanced
  5. Care
  6. Close
  7. Multi-disciplinary

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Balancing cost containment and quality care is a topic health professionals consistently address. With the filing of every financial report health managers increase efforts in efficient cost management understanding the importance of a comprehensive financial strategy in sustaining a medical practice.

Segmenting health care costs into three parts, an analysis of direct, fixed, and variable costs of a healthcare facility allows health managers to determine cost centers in which efficient cost management can foster financial gains.

Direct costs

As staff compensation care equal nearly 25 percent of a health facilities’ revenue, managers often leverage work hours and employee counts to counteract overhead costs. As effective as leveraging direct costs may seem, it provides health managers with only a short-term resolution. Instead, facilities should concentrate on measures to improve staffing such as enhancing employee competence and improving service delivery. Moreover, though increased employer-employee engagement and incentives a health manager can foster a more effective response to addressing direct costs.

Fixed and variable costs

As fixed and variable costs are congruent with contractual obligations of the practice (e.g., rent, malpractice premiums) contract negotiations are always a viable means of cost saving. Health managers can also look to inventory for cost containment as proper management and use of medical supplies is a practical yet essential means of controlling costs.

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Data from the Medical Group Management Association reports that over 50 percent of physicians are employed by health system organizations or an affiliate. With this trend occurring among health professionals the question presented to practitioners is whether to establish a facility or partner with a system.


As a practitioner within a healthcare system there is minimal concern regarding compensation as the system assures remittance for patient care. Healthcare systems also eliminate administrative aggravation for physicians as matters of payroll and contracts are handled by skilled health professionals within specific departments. Lastly, a practitioners’ compensation is usually greater within a system than a private practice.


The absence of control can present challenges for practitioners as decisions of policy, procedure and compensation are controlled by a system-wide authority. Moreover, the adoption of new metrics and technology may present challenges for the practitioner having to adjust.

Here are some ways to determine what is best for you:

–          Talk to your colleagues as far as what would be best for you based off their personal experiences.

–          Do some self-reflection to determine if the viewpoints of the system are in alignment with your personal goals.

–          Ensure job security, compensation, and a sustainable retirement is in place with the healthcare facility before making any drastic decisions.

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