Welcome to Business Essentials—A VM e-newsletter which is designed to help independent eyecare professionals learn more about how to manage the business aspects of their practices and dispensaries.
Business Essentials spotlights practical ideas to improve your bottom line, examine the dollars and cents of your business decisions and find innovative, efficient ways to run your practice. We hope you can use this issue to improve and ultimately strengthen your business IQ. —The Editors
The Doctor Is In (Business):
Excellence With An Edge
NEW YORK—Running a practice has never been tougher. Michael T. Harris, MD notes that, despite the challenges, it's still possible for independent-minded physicians in any setting to not only compete but to thrive.
"At the end of the day, what patients really want is a great doctor," said Dr. Harris, vice chairman of surgery at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine and author of Excellence with an Edge: Practicing Medicine in a Competitive Environment.
He created and is the course director of the popular "Business of Medicine" elective, one of the first courses of its kind for medical students in the country. "If you are that great doctor, and if everybody knows it, you have a tremendous edge.
However, you absolutely must be able to run a great business as well. And that's where many doctors fall short. It's no longer enough to provide excellent clinical care and great service," Dr. Harris said.
"They're just the tickets to entry. A physician who understands business principles will be in a position not just to succeed financially, but to provide the best possible clinical care," he said. "Practicing good business lets you in turn practice good medicine."
His book includes two sections with two categories of advice: The Sharp Edge, devoted to subjects like accounting, business plans, and financial analyses, and The Smooth Edge, which covers marketing, relationship building, customer loyalty, and similar matters.
Among the points he emphasizes in his book:
Get serious about A/R management. Accounts receivable can be viewed as money that's still owed for services a practice has already provided. Dr. Harris said it's the management of this asset that distinguishes good management from poor,
successful businesses from failed, and sane physicians from lunatics. To manage A/R effectively, you will need to first "clean up" old accounts by writing them off, evaluating large accounts, and negotiating payment from some accounts to collect more money sooner.
There will also be a group of patients that you just have to decide how aggressively you want to pursue, he added.
This should be done on a case-by-case basis. "However, I strongly recommend that you aggressively pursue the accounts of those patients who have received a check from the insurance company for your services, cashed the check, but have refused to pay you," he said.
Be aware that 90 percent of denials are preventable. Remember this simple truth: "Clean claims get paid." In order for the government (Medicare or Medicaid) or any insurance company to process a claim for a medical service,
every single piece of information in the claim must be perfectly accurate. Failure to do exactly what is asked will lead to denials.
Treat referring physicians like gold. Respect these relationships and the connection that brings to your practice's revenues.
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Online Recruiting Is Helping ECPs to Streamline Efforts
NEW YORK—In conversations with optometrists and opticians about their business management challenges,
often the number one issue they mention is finding and keeping qualified staff for their practices.
And today, many are finding more real bottom-line efficiencies—and better recruitment success rates—via the use of digital and social media.
AMN Healthcare's "2010 Social Media Survey of Healthcare Professionals", conducted by the major health care staffing and workforce solutions company,
suggests that traditional methods of recruitment such as referrals, online job boards and search engines are not being superseded by social media, whereas social media does surpass other job search methods such as newspaper ads, career fairs and other methods.
At the same time, social networking sites are experiencing tremendous growth, and have become the new frontier in professional networking and career development for physicians, nurses, allied health professionals and pharmacists.
Job candidates are spending more time online and experimenting with media sites for job searches, but have thus far found minimal success in securing interviews, job offers and positions.
The survey data is presented as totals and broken out by clinical specialties.
Industry leaders can use the results to gauge the effectiveness of various social media networks and related applications as they develop future plans for recruiting, advertising and general communications. To obtain a copy of the complete survey click here.
Another new and important survey on hiring practices was recently conducted by
Jobson Optical Research. The Jobson Research General Hiring Study, completed just last month, clearly reflects the growing role of the internet as a new efficiency player in recruitment efforts.
First, the survey reflects the fact that eyecare practices have been hiring, about 70 percent of them, over the past 12 months, which is a good business indicator.
Just over half, 51.4 percent, of those who initiated a hiring process in the last 12 months used internet sites, while about one in three still use newspaper classifieds. Twenty-eight percent of those who actually hired someone in the last 12 months found them on an internet site.
"This study confirms that job-seekers primarily go to the internet to look for jobs, so the internet is more effective than the classifieds for recruiting in today's environment," commented Brad McCorkle, president of
Local Eye Site, a leading recruiter and career resource site in the ophthalmic market.
"This study showed that internet sites were about three times more effective (28.4 percent hired a candidate from internet site versus only 10.7 percent from classified response).”
Further, of the 28.4 percent that actually hired someone in the last 12 months by finding them on an internet site, 7.2 percent found the person they hired from Local Eye Site, he noted, adding,
“Of the 9.1 percent that used Local Eye Site in their hiring process, 41.4 percent hired a person they found on Local Eye Site."
Commented McCorkle, "The health care industry has been just about the only bright spot for the U.S. jobs market over the last couple of years—it's good to be in eye care!
Also, when it comes to the recruiting process, a significant percentage of organizations still depend on their local newspaper, despite the fact that job-seekers overwhelming use the internet to do their job-seeking.
This study tells it like it is...internet sites are more effective at producing the candidates that end up being hired by the recruiting organization. Human resource or administrative professionals do not need,
or even want to receive hundreds or thousands of resumes during the recruiting process. What they want is a manageable number of responses from candidates with relevant backgrounds and experiences so that they can quickly fill their position without all of the fuss and that’s what digital media provides."
The Jobson Research General Hiring Survey was fielded in Jan/Feb 2010. All those involved in the hiring of personnel for an optical location/practice or for optical industry positions were qualified to take the survey. A total of 902 respondents completed the survey.
Respondents were offered a chance to win a $100 American Express Gift Card as an incentive to complete the survey.
More info about the survey is available from Jennifer Zupnick, Jobson Research at