Given the choice, most of us would prefer to spend all of our time focusing on the quality of our patients’ experience than worrying about the bottom line. The reality of the situation is that controlling operational expenses is one of the most important aspects of medical practice management. More than 60% of the average family practice’s net profit goes directly to overhead, and in an ever-tightening medical economy, you can’t afford to ignore unnecessary costs. Getting your budget into shape may take time, but there are simple steps you can take today to reduce expenses.
Be smart about supplies
Having a solid supply plan is very important. Know what you need, when you need it, and who is responsible for both inventory and ordering. With a solid inventory schedule, you can take advantage of bulk discounts for commonly used supplies, eliminate over-ordering and duplication, and ensure you always have what you need when you need it, which can save you a lot of money on last-minute orders and shipping.
Be flexible about your office supply vendors, and review your accounts on a quarterly basis to ensure you’re getting good value for your money. Look for online deals, and be creative about supplies. For example, you can save hundreds of dollars in printing costs by switching from a brick-and-mortar print shop to a web-based supplier for business cards, personalized marketing materials, and other office essentials.
Control communication costs
Little things add up in a big way. This is due in-part because individually they are so small, but the “little things” (such as postage and telephone costs) can be difficult to control. They may be taking up a larger chunk of your budget than you realize.
Make sure you’re getting the best possible deal from your carrier. Competition in the telecom sector is fierce, and there are great deals to be had. It’s worth your while to regularly re-evaluate your plan.
Rethink your mailing strategies and you may be able to significantly cut down on your postage expenses. It’s worth assigning one person in the office to be responsible for stamps or the postage meter. Think of ways to reduce the amount of mail leaving the office: pay bills online, consider offering your patients an electronic billing service, and use email for correspondence wherever possible and appropriate. Look into an SMS appointment reminder system. If you send out a patient newsletter, consider switching to an online blog or e-newsletter.
Get creative with marketing
You shouldn’t skimp where marketing is concerned, but you should be certain that your advertising investments are making the most of each dollar. Remember that investing time can be more effective than money in this area. Community involvement, networking, and a robust, engaged social media strategy can have a huge impact. Schedule blocks of time for all three, and stick to it. You will see results.
Make sure that you are listed in hospital directories, online listings, and all other free avenues before you pay for a Yellow Pages ad. When you do pay for advertising, find a way to track results. If you use an agency, ask for a detailed report. Add a question to your intake form asking how patients heard about your practice. Getting your business expenses under control can be a daunting task, but it’s worth it. A trim, efficient operational budget will give you peace of mind, and let you devote your precious resources to growing your practice and providing exceptional care for your patients.