Every day there are healthcare practices and physicians who know they are in trouble and need help. Almost 90% of the time, if they had called 6 months ago, something could have been done to help and prevent the feeling of desperateness most of them express.
So when is the right time to begin the “I need help” conversation? Most practices and physicians begin to feel the squeeze long before they pick up the phone or make the internet search. There are many reasons for this…….(1) The people they trust to handle the practice day to day are hiding the realities of collections. (2) They believe if they align themselves with another entity, like a hospital, it all goes away. (3) They believe they can right the wrongs without paying for it. (4) They are just too busy to worry about the business side. (5) Things went downhill a lot faster than they expected. (6) They are shifting blame.
So many events are taking place right now that may contribute to the deterioration of a practice…..decreasing reimbursements, increased cost owed to EHR requirements and other IT costs, age of the practice (provider) reflected in seeing fewer patients, age of patients (largest population of Medicare patients) and a growing population of Medicaid patients.
Given these facts, a practice should consider asking for outside help when one or more of the following situations exist:
- Weekly charges drop 15% – a drop in charges is the first sign that a drop in payments will follow. While 15% does not seem much, if trended over time, by the time it gets to 15%…..it will be a lot. Go back in time and trend charges over the past year.
- Monthly costs are up 25% over all from last year. Cost for everyone is up……but by how much and over what period of time? Ask the question!
- Accounts payable is growing. Unable to pay your bills on a timely basis is an obvious red flag.
- Waiting period for access to provider is up 15%. – When a patient cannot have access to a provider in today’s world, they will find another provider. Can your practice afford that?
- Physician salary has dropped. This too should be trended on a monthly basis. When provider salary drops, where is the money going? What has happened? Have costs gone up? Seeing fewer patients? Lower reimbursements? Knowing these answers will lead to solutions.
When you know your healthcare practice needs help…ask for it! Don’t waste time in denial or hoping things will get better.