It's imperative that clinic managers ask themselves difficult questions now because of what I have recently observed. If these stories resonate with you, your clinic may be reaching the limit on how hard your staff can work and how many expenses you can cut. The approach of increased productivity and lower expenses as the road to profitability may be coming to an end.
What will you do when you and your staff cannot work any harder and there are no more expenses to cut? That’s the question I want to ask whenever I visit a clinic. However, it’s difficult to ask so directly and put someone on the spot, especially when they are working hard – very hard – to run a profitable clinic. This is an important question for any clinic manager who is responsible for the profitability of their clinic to be asking themselves.
I think it’s imperative that clinic managers start asking themselves difficult questions now because of what I have observed. I’ve built these observations into narratives and I share them now. If they resonate with you, I submit that your clinic is reaching a limit as to how hard clinicians work and how many expenses can be cut. That the approach of increased productivity and lower expenses as the road to profitability may be coming to an end.
The Clinician Narrative
I get up in the morning and jump into my clinical garb and head out the door. I’m tired and the day is just getting started. But, I believe in myself, my training, and the therapy I deliver to my patients.
I get to the clinic just before it opens; traffic was a bear. I put my lunch in the refrigerator and grab a cup of coffee to jump start my brain. I check my schedule of patients just in time to have the receptionist tell me that my first patient is ready.
It’s already lunchtime. Where did the morning go? Oh, that’s right – I saw eight patients including one first visit. I’ve got twenty minutes for lunch and if I type with one hand and eat with the other, I can finish the evaluation notes for my new patient.
Done. And just in time – my first afternoon patient is here. It’s go time.
Quitting time. Well that was ½ hour ago, but I am now finished. I saw fifteen patients and helped my colleague on two of his. My feet and back ache, and I have to get home. If I do not get the laundry done tonight, I won’t have clean scrubs to wear tomorrow.
The Clinic Manager Narrative
I get up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee and go to my kitchen table to look at last month’s income statement. It’s still dark out. But, I have to review the numbers to see where things sit year to date. If there is not some improvement in the bottom line, I’ll have to figure out something else to reduce or cut. It’s getting harder. I can’t cut back on clinician hours because we have the volume to justify the staffing we have in place. If only reimbursement were heading in the right direction.
I get to the clinic just after it opens; traffic was a bear, and I lost track of time looking at the damn numbers. I need to figure out something and make a change. I go to put my lunch in the refrigerator and realize that I left it on the counter in my rush out the door. I grab my second cup of coffee and go to my meeting with the billers.
It’s lunchtime. Where did the morning go? Oh, that’s right, I got called out of the billing meeting to deal with a scheduling issue and introduce myself to a new patient. The receptionist then reminded me that I had patients scheduled, and I treated them for the balance of the morning. I’m hungry, but I forgot my lunch. I go to catch up with the billers and finish our meeting. That will take my appetite away.
Quitting time. Well that was 1 ½ hours ago, but I am finished. I saw my afternoon patients and then had some time to sit in my office to look at the numbers again. It occurred to me that maybe I could cut back on consumables for a couple of months and did a quick inventory to see if I had enough in stock. I think that might work, and I can always see a couple more patients on my lunch break. My feet and back ache, and I have to get home. If I do not get the laundry done tonight, I won’t have clean scrubs to wear tomorrow.
Do these narratives resonate with you? If they do, it’s time to recognize that you need to look at ways to grow your clinic. That’s correct. You need to figure out how you can add visits and revenue.
It’s time to grow your clinic.
To be continued.
Update: Check out my next blog about the first steps in adding new services to your clinic