It’s that time again for red-tag sales, too much food and family, obnoxious office holiday parties, and getting your practice ready for the year ahead. But in order to prepare for a more productive year ahead, you’ve got to first do a year-end review.
Here are some ways to make sure you’re ready to do both.
Conduct a Value-Neutral Review of 2015
Edmund Burke once said, ““Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” The author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher must have been a doctor in a previous life.
In order to make 2016 a successful year for your practice you’ve got to take a look at this year’s mistakes and learn from them.
Some “mistakes” you will find were completely out of your control and a matter of statistical variance in trying to deal with the numerous healthcare changes that occurred this year. In other words, they just happened and there wasn’t much you could have done about them.
But other mistakes happened as a result of holes in your processes, systems and training. This is where you need to focus your efforts to make significant improvements in patient care and satisfaction, risk mitigation, and staff productivity.
Find Unexpected Positive Outcomes and Repeat Them
A clear-eyed analysis of the past year’s operations will undoubtedly uncover unexpected positive outcomes that can be repeated. Should you find certain staff members are responsible for these outcomes, be sure to praise them and tell them to continue whatever it is they did differently. If the unexpected positive outcome came from a sudden change to a workflow one day, be sure all staff and administration becomes aware of this change to the workflow so they too can benefit from it.
Track Those Lingering Payments
Even the most gifted and well-rested medical billers will have a hard time wrangling old A/R issues at the beginning of the New Year. If, like other smaller practices, yours tends to slow down in December, use this time to track down lingering payments as well as follow up on claims that have yet to be paid.
It’s also a good time to decide whether or not those charges from years past are worth the administrative costs of pursuing any longer. Sometimes it’s just better to cut the cord on the ones too expensive to collect and let them go.
Get Your Taxes Ready
Now is the time to get in touch with your accountant to discuss ways you can keep more money in your pocket instead of handing it over to good ol’ Uncle Sam. For instance, there may be some year-end purchases that could end up reducing your tax bill come next year.
So, if you’ve been putting off upgrading that EHR or buying a few new medical exam tables, you’re going to want to do that before December 31st.
Some other items that are tax-deductible to keep in mind:
- Advertising costs
- Office supplies
- Employee or gift bonuses
- Licensing fees
Again, check with your tax person to make sure what you’re about to purchase is actually tax-deductible. They will most likely have other suggestions as to how you can lower your bill.
Remember : To qualify for this deduction under section 179 the equipment must be purchased or leased and placed into service between January 1 and December 31 of that year.
Update Your Policies
Have you decided to update any of your policies in the New Year? If so, be sure to get a jump on this and remember to make changes in multiple locations, such as your website, payment agreements, newsletters, signs, patient letters, etc. Also, check with your staff to make sure everyone has been trained on these new policies.
And speaking of new policies, you should definitely inquire as to whether any of your payers have updated their policies for 2016 and make sure your staff is aware of these as well.
Collect Your ICD-10 Reports
Just because the big transition day everyone was talking about has passed doesn’t mean that ICD-10 won’t have any lingering effects on your practice’s bottom line.
This conversion will likely cause a rippling effect for a while so it’s critical you be mindful of your practice’s ICD-10 progress. One way to do this is to leverage any reporting features your billing software has so you can see any areas of concern.
Lose Your Fear of Technology
If you have a fear (or distaste) of technology, this new year is the year to lose it. The healthcare industry is moving ahead with or without you, so you might as well hop on board the IT train.
Those physicians that seem to outperform their peers every year do so because they always look for new tools to help them survive and thrive in these changing times. With this in mind, it’s time for you to evaluate your current technology (if you have any) – such as your office’s EHR or practice management software – to see if it’s time for an upgrade.
Of course, if you currently don’t employ an EHR system or practice management solution, now’s the time to bite the bullet and get these advanced tools.
Here are some features to consider when shopping for tech solutions:
- Anytime, anywhere access via the cloud
- ePrescribing (including controlled substances)
- Remote charge capture
- Mobile capabilities for iPad & iPhone
The end of the year is a great time take a look at your practice, be honest about what’s working and what’s not, and make the necessary changes that will ensure your success in the coming year.