That Was Then
The old-school way of running a private practice was for doctors to refer patients requiring advanced medical testing or physical therapy services to their colleagues and golfing buddies. And why not? Money wasn’t an issue. Twenty years ago, most doctors were earning six-digit salaries and building up their retirement nest eggs.
Today, business-savvy chiropractors focusing on their future and retirement years will make the smart choice to provide better, more controlled patient care, while taking steps to increase practice revenues and reduce overhead costs—working smarter, not harder, in an effort to grow their practices. Factors to consider include other medical competition, providing better patient care, creating an additional practice profit center, per patient reimbursement, and future practice trends.
Today’s Competitive Medical Field
Who’s the competition? In a competitive medical industry, the competition is no longer just the doctor down the street, but the hospitals, medical groups, and freestanding health clinics, such as physical therapy, rehabilitation, and sports medicine centers. In order to aggressively compete with these facilities, chiropractors need to stop referring their patients out for services they can perform in their own offices, where they can oversee the procedures and, more importantly, earn the fees themselves.
Providing Better Patient Care
By utilizing and working with credible medical service providers that deliver on-site services, private practice chiropractors will gain financially, while improving the care they offer to their patients.
Recent medical breakthroughs in technology allow physicians to conduct, oversee, and grow their practices, utilizing many advanced on-site services, including nerve conduction velocity (NCV) testing, electromyogram (EMG) studies, somatosensory and dermatomal evoked potentials, ultrasound imaging, sleep studies, physical therapy, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to list a few.
Providing patients who require advanced medical testing or physical therapy services with one-stop on-site services not only makes scheduling and receiving services easier for the patient, but also provides that patient with faster testing turn-around times and treatment options.
Ancillary Services Provide Additional Practice Profit Centers
Health care reimbursements are either going to stay the same or continue to go down and will never be proportionate to the cost of living or the high cost of running a private practice. Chiropractors who provide ancillary services within the scope of their office will continue to be successful and the doctors who do not will eventually die off, because they won’t be able to afford to stay in practice.
Maximizing Per Patient Reimbursement
As the expenses of running a medical practice—overhead, staffing, malpractice insurance and marketing—continue to increase, insurance reimbursements have stayed the same or gone down, and the costs of collecting the money have gone way up.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the past five years, salaries have increased at a rate of one percent per year, which does not cover the cost of living increase, the cost of growing malpractice insurance, or the operating expenses of running a private practice. Chiropractors who are not looking for new ways to develop their practices by creating an additional profit center and bringing ancillary services on-site are getting eaten up.
For example, in an effort to achieve the same financial result, a chiropractor that does not provide on-site ancillary services may need to treat 100 patients in the same time frame that another doctor, who does utilize ancillary services, treats only 33 patients. It’s not about getting more patients in your door; it’s about maximizing the reimbursement for the patients you are currently treating.
The Successful Doctor of the Future
Ancillary health care services have always been out there, but they have mostly been based in freestanding centers. For example: A physical therapy center on the corner. Before there were surgery centers, patients were only operated on in hospitals. As chiropractors became more entrepreneurial and looked for additional ways to earn income, surgery and physical therapy centers became more prevalent within the profession.
Chiropractors of the future will utilize hospitals and freestanding centers as little as possible because they will realize that hospitals and health care center operations aren’t their friends any longer—they are the competition.
Mitchell E. Rubin is founder and chief executive officer of VeridianHealth, LLC, which consolidates his diagnostic testing companies—Diagnostic Testing Centers of America (DTCA), ZT Technical Services, LLC, and HTZ Technical Services, Inc.—under one flagship entity, comprising the nation’s top providers of on-site neurological diagnostic testing and physical therapy services for physicians.
VeridianHealth operates within state and federal guidelines, offering a variety of compliance-driven practice models. For more information about VeridianHealth, LLC, call 1-877-837-4342 or visit www.veridianhealth.com.