By Diane McCutcheon
Chris Martin: Letâ€™s see…we spoke about the three service components: process, people, and technology. We spoke about how to control the people and technology components and how to compute your priorities. Diane, can you elaborate on the process component?
Diane McCutcheon: Most physical therapy practice owners are excellent patient care providers but not so when it comes to understanding and running the business end. Most start-ups begin without a business plan and if there is a business plan it is seldom followed after the doors open.
In my experience new owners sit around and wait for new patients â€“ they are able to see patients for an hour at a time. Most have hired someone to run the front desk and do the billing and collections and donâ€™t pay too much attention to what they are doing. They have no idea what this personâ€™s real capabilities are. It is that same person that sets up the process operations as they go along. Without experience problems are dealt with as they arise and the administrative function becomes overwhelming and new staff is added to take on responsibilities that really could be handled by maximizing the physical therapy billing technology or with better practice management processes in place.
As the physical therapy business grows and the ownerâ€™s caseload begins to max out, they begin focusing on taking in enough money to pay the bills and salaries but little else. They all but lose any administration time â€“ following the A/R, identifying problem areas, understanding why income is decreasing while they are seeing more patients, learning what questions to ask staff – what answers are acceptable rather than just taking what is said as being the right answer and going over month end stats. I consistently hear owners say â€œwell she told meâ€¦â€¦..so I thought it was going really well.â€
Physical Therapy billing process optimization first of all depends on the ownerâ€™s ability to focus on the bottom line and manage the practice while contributing to providing services that result in revenue enhances the overall financial climate of the business. The owner must set clear financial objectives in terms of total revenues, visit profitability, and total costs.
Until you have those numbers clear in your mind, donâ€™t start a business! That simple.
Next, the physical therapy practice owner must recognize the value of specialization and separation of labor. Control becomes the hardest part: how to define your processes so that you can control them and adjust when you discover that you are missing your financial goals?
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Chris Martin: Diane, process optimization must put it all together. But how?
Diane McCutcheonÂ Physical Therapy Billing Process optimization is developing and implementing processes that work seamlessly together. A seamless operation begins with the first phone call, new patient processing, checking benefits and obtaining authorizations/referrals, seeing the therapist, and billing and payment for services rendered.
Moving your operations to an optimum level begins with the implementation of policies and procedures through the ranks that address:
- Hiring and developing the right staff
- Establishing standards and processes to ensure highly effective operations
- Using correct technology
This highly effective process results in a â€œworking smarter not harderâ€ atmosphere. If, as an owner, you do not understand the processes that make your clinic run as efficiently as possible, then you will have to completely rely on staff. This is not recommended as people change and I have been in too many situations where this happened and clients were embezzled. An owner HAS to take ownership.