Keeping patients safe and saving money: Strategies for medical practice cost reduction
It can be easy to forget that a private clinic or medical practice is essentially a business. As a health care professional, it's unlikely that you entered the field of medicine for the financial rewards alone. You were likely motivated by a desire to help others and provide the very best care possible. After all, your private clinic is unlike other businesses: this is a place where people come to be healed, and consequential decisions are made on a daily basis – choices that in some cases can be a matter of life or death. That's why decisions that enhance maximum patient care and comfort often trump considerations of cost.
However, you needn't choose between keeping practice costs down and providing the best possible patient care. Whether you're a doctor, nurse or clinic manager, there are a number of strategies that you can employ to lower expenses while still keeping patients safe. Review the list of surefire strategies below:
1. Energy conservation
Energy use in your practice is likely a notable drain on your finances. Heating in the winter, cooling in the summer, and not to mention the plethora of computers and medical devices that use electricity – it all adds up. That's why implementing simple energy savings measures is an effective step toward saving more money. Ensure that all cracks in windows and walls are sealed, and that no windows are left open when the HVAC system is running. American Medical News advised swapping out older technology, such as computers, for more updated and energy efficient models. Although this a short-term expense, the long-run savings will compensate.
"Ensure that all cracks in windows and walls are sealed."
2. More non-physician staff
As with any business, one of the most notable expenses is staff salaries. Dependent on the services your practice provides, you may be hiring one or more certified physicians or specialists, all of whom likely command substantial salaries. Indeed, according to popular careers website Payscale, the average national salary for a doctor of internal medicine currently stands at a little over $170,000 per year, with many medical professionals commanding substantially more than that. Such large salaries can take a toll on your practice's bottom line. Therefore, as the National Center for Policy Analysis advised, consider hiring nurses or nurse-practitioners to handle routine patient consultations, and have one or two qualified physicians on staff for more involved consultations. After all, the average national salary for a nurse practitioner is notably less at $97,000 per year, U.S. News & World Report noted.
And although cheaper, nurse practitioners in particular still offer an impeccable level of care. According to the University of Cincinnati, nurse-practitioners are qualified to carry out a range of patient care duties, often independently of a physician. For example, nurse practitioners are able to carry out duties that standard nurses cannot, such as conducting physicals, diagnosing common illnesses and prescribing medications. In many ways a nurse practitioner is able to offer the same level of care as a doctor of internal medicine. And given that a graduate degree and state license are typically prerequisites for this role, you can rest assured that your patients will be in trustworthy hands.
3. Financial planning
American Medical News advised seeking the help of an accountant or financial planner to overhaul your practice's financial framework. Although such professional services cost money, the savings that an accountant or financial planner could theoretically find will likely make the initial expense more than worth it. As the source elaborated, a financial planner can scrutinize your practice's expenses with a fine-toothed comb, and highlight money drains that you perhaps didn't even know existed.
4. Single-use devices
Reusable medical tools are fairly common across clinics, practices and hospitals nationwide. For example, reusable vaginal speculums are often used by gynecologists. Made of metal, these tools are sanitized after each use, which can take a considerable amount of time. Furthermore, acquiring such tools in the first place can be a costly, and that's not to mention any additional costs that may be incurred should the devices become damaged. That's why an increasing number of hospitals and practices are opting to use single-use devices instead, such as the range provided by OBP Medical.
To offer an example, the OfficeSPEC Single-Use Lighted Vaginal Speculum from OBP Medical uses an LED light source powered by alkaline battery. The tool is incredibly simple to use and can be efficiently disposed of after one time use – eliminating time spent on sanitation efforts. And given that the devices are single-use, you will never be responsible for the maintenance costs associated with reusable devices. Better still, not only are the tools offered by OBP Medical more cost-efficient, they are also safer for patients: Reusable devices have been shown to increase the risk of the cross-contamination of the HPV virus, which can responsible for certain cancers.
For more information about the OfficeSPEC Single-Use Lighted Vaginal Speculum and other OBP Medical devices, and a free sample, click here.