Excerpted from page 16 of the May 2016 edition of AOA Focus.
Increasing the revenue of an optometric practice is a multifaceted task. Even if patient volume is good and costs are well-managed, there is still plenty that can be done. Use these tips to further increase practice profitability.
- Practice to your full scope.
Many optometrists focus on refractive eye care only, says John Rumpakis, O.D., MBA, president and CEO of Practice Resource Management. "We're often not asking for a full history related to complaints. We're not recognizing simple things like contact lens dropout, ocular allergy or dry eye," Dr. Rumpakis says. "Income could be much higher if you were to practice to the fullest scope of your licensure. Listen between the lines to be a good clinician and diagnostician, and solve and address the problem rather than just treating the symptom."
- Use staff more efficiently.
"The appropriate utilization of your staff can have as much as a 25% impact on your per-patient revenue," says Gilan Cockrell, O.D., CEO of the Williams Group, an optometric consulting company. Dr. Cockrell suggests using scribes as supertechs, whereby "the technician is in the exam room with the doctor but then completes the patient experience by whatever transaction or interaction needs to be done," from optical or contact lens services to patient education. Based on his own findings, having everything done by that same person may impact your income by as much as 25% on the same patient volume, he says.
- Schedule smarter.
Don't break your schedule into equal time blocks, says Dr. Rumpakis. He suggests crunching the numbers to determine how much time each type of patient visit takes and then group them together to take advantage of inherent efficiencies. For example, "If I see 12 medical patients a day, and I know that the average medical eye care visit takes 10 minutes of physician time, then I know I need to set aside two hours a day where I break those hours into six 10-minute blocks. Now I'm scheduling for productivity and profitability based on my actual needs and assessment."
Dr. Cockrell adds, "The largest impact to your bottom line is schedule management and reduction of no-shows through utilization of a dynamic schedule."
- Play classical music.
"If you play music with words in it, regardless of genre, it's going to be more distracting than music without words," says Dr. Cockrell. In his practice, he found that playing solo classical piano music resulted in at least an 8% difference in income produced during the day. "The income is coming from better treatment plan acceptance due to less distractions," he says. "The enhanced doctor-patient and staff-patient interaction results in a better fiduciary outcome, but more important than that, just a better experience with the patient."
Learn more ways to grow your practice by attending "The Economics of Apathy," presented by John Rumpakis, O.D., MBA, July 2 at 9 a.m. during the 2016 Optometry's Meeting® in Boston, Massachusetts.
Changes in coding and reimbursements worth knowing. Meanwhile, with the clock winding down on 2023, the AOA continues to press for Congress to act on reforms that would give doctors of optometry an annual, permanent inflationary Medicare payment tied to the Medicare Economic Index.
The federal government and private payers are heavily scrutinizing the use of modifier -25. When used appropriately, it can help to ensure that patients receive appropriate treatment and that doctors of optometry are reimbursed appropriately for their service. If you believe a claim that includes modifier -25 was inappropriately denied, follow appropriate criteria when appealing.