You probably know the financial bottom line of your practice, but how well do you understand just how you got there? To know, it's essential to periodically review your service mix.
As consultants, we often start with a review of a practice's top 20 CPT codes by volume and compare the data to both our client's expectations and benchmarks for urology practices. This analysis provides a great starting point for a discussion about where a practice has room to grow and improve and what you really want to see in your practice. Are you doing as many of the most desirable procedures as you would like? Are you seeing the type of patients that you most enjoy?
Adequately market, utilize new hires
In analyzing the service mix of a practice, we often find that a newly added physician is being underutilized. For example, let's say you've recently added a urogynecologist, and you're naturally eager to earn a return on the investment to attract and hire this new specialist. But have you adequately marketed this new practice capability? Getting a handle from the start on this new physician's mix of patients and his/her productivity will help you quickly learn whether you need to revisit your marketing or help the physician expand his/her referral base.
Some practices do more testing-eg, urodynamic testing-than others. If you aren't doing as much of something as you want, consider whether your existing patients are adequately informed of your services. Educational outreach to your existing patients has never been easier or less expensive to execute thanks to e-mail and social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter. Have you done a good job of keeping your referring physicians aware of what services or tests you've added over the years? The electronic tools that make it easy to communicate with patients can be used to keep your referring physicians informed about your practice.
Are you performing as many vasectomies as you should? Vasectomies are one of the most readily marketable procedures, whether the marketing is directly to patients, through referrals, or even through patients' wives via their gynecologists. If you're not handling as many vasectomies as a typical urology practice (or as many as you would like), your practice may not be effectively reaching prospective patients. Marketing to men who are considering vasectomies has that added advantage of giving you a chance to gain a patient whom you may see for many years after that initial procedure.
With all segments of your service mix, you must remember that it won't become what you want it to be without the community outreach and marketing necessary to attract your targeted patients. If you don't have the expertise within the practice, consider hiring outside help; it can be more cost-effective than hiring more staff, and allow you to ramp up more quickly.
Joe Capko is a senior health care consultant with Capko & Co. who specializes in research, marketing, social media, business development, and strategic planning. Judy Capko is a health care consultant and the author of Take Back Time-Bringing Time Management to Medicine. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org