If growing your healthcare practice is on your agenda, it’s important to prepare for every challenge. You may encounter obstacles along the way that can make expansion more difficult. Identifying potential roadblocks before they become a problem is key to help your practice reach its potential. Here are five of the most common struggles to be aware of when pursuing practice growth, along with practical resolutions to overcome them.
1. Being inadequately staffed
You rely on your staff to help care for your patients. Not having enough staff can slow your progress when growing your healthcare practice.
The quality of service you deliver to your patients may suffer if you don’t have a large enough staff. That could result in lost revenues if some of your patients decide to switch to another healthcare provider.
In addition, having the wrong staff can also be detrimental to your growth. Hiring unfit employees can be costly. It takes money to hire and train new staff members. A high turnover ratio could make your return-on-investment nonexistent.
If you’ve run into either roadblock, it may help to reevaluate your hiring strategy. For example, consider what you’re doing to attract and retain quality employees. Are you properly vetting candidates to ensure you’re only hiring qualified people who are committed to helping you grow your practice? Is your employee benefits package enough to keep those employees on the job?
Also consider the overall office culture at your practice. Ideally, you’re taking care of your employees in ways that encourage them to take the best care of your patients. Asking your staff for feedback through an anonymous survey can help shed light on your practice and how employee policies are perceived.
2. Disorganized marketing
Word-of-mouth can be a powerful tool in growing your healthcare practice. But, you may also need to invest in traditional marketing and advertising. For that, you need a clearly defined plan, including a targeted customer profile, so that your marketing speaks directly to your ideal patients’ needs.
When your marketing plan is disorganized – or worse, nonexistent – it can be hard to generate interest in your practice because you’re not visible in the marketplace. Your message and branding may be perfect, but it’s not noticed by people you hope will become patients. On the other hand, you may be connecting with the right people, but your messaging is wrong.
In either case, you end up with a trickle of new patients rather than the flood you’re seeking. You can remedy this by reviewing what’s working and what’s not with your marketing strategy.
Look back at your marketing and advertising spend for the last six months to a year. Look at where you invested the most money. Then, look at how those investments corresponded to revenues and profits.
If marketing is something you don’t have much time for or you feel “in over your head”, consider whether you want to outsource to a professional agency. You could use a short-term loan to cover the costs if you’re not comfortable pulling money from your cash flow.
3. Outdated accounting methods
Managing the books may be one of your least favorite tasks, but it’s an essential day-to-day task in the growth of your healthcare practice.
When you’re not clear on what’s coming in and out of your business each month, it’s hard to make use of your financial resources. You could be wasting money unnecessarily that could be redirected into your marketing or hiring budget to help you expand.
If you’re using an old school accounting method, such as paper ledgers or spreadsheets, consider making an upgrade. Switching to a cloud-based accounting software, for instance, can make it easier to centralize payroll, accounting and financial record-keeping for your healthcare practice all in one place.
You can share access to the software with your accountant or anyone else in the practice who’s responsible for managing financials. This can increase transparency when it comes to managing the books. It can also save your practice time and money when your accounting process is more efficient.
4. Slow-paying patients
Lags between the time services are rendered and payment is received will hinder your growing healthcare practice. Slow-paying patients can be a challenge to expansion if you’re relying on those payments to help fund growth. At the same time, you don’t want to lose those patients entirely.
So what do you do? The simplest solution may be revisiting your payment terms.
For instance, consider:
- How many payment methods you accept
- How long you’re giving patients to pay
- Whether you’re assessing late fees or penalties
- How your practice communicates payment terms to patients
- What incentives exist, if any, to encourage speed of payment
- How you train your staff to handle requests for payment
You should have a simple payment process if you focus on growth. That may mean expanding your payment options to include mobile wallets, ACH transfers or offering discounts to motivate patients to pay early. There may be an initial financial investment to make if you have to retrain staff to navigate payment conversations or upgrade your patient management software. But if that results in growth because you’re keeping the patients you have, increasing payment rates and attracting new patients with your payment structure, it can be worth it in the long term.
5. Uneven cash flow
Cash flow can be a roadblock to growth for just about any business–especially for medical practices. Managing payments from patients and insurance can mean delays. You still need to pay your staff, suppliers and operating expenses, though.
If your monthly cash flow is uneven, you may feel limited as to how much of it you can afford to invest in growth. Looking beyond your cash flow to small business financing could be the answer.
Kapitus, for example, offers healthcare financing options designed to meet the unique needs of medical practices. They can also assist you in pursuing more traditional small business loan options, such as term loans, SBA loans or equipment loans if you need to outfit your practice with new equipment.
When considering a loan to help manage cash flow and growth, take time to review the terms carefully. Consider what you’ll pay in interest and fees, how much you can borrow, how long you’ll have to repay the loan and the minimum requirements you’ll need to meet to qualify. The goal should be finding the best financing option to fit your needs and budget in growing your healthcare practice for today and the future.