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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Ultimate Low Cost Specialist Office

With costs rising for all of us physicians, cost containment has become more important than ever. I've been thinking about how to keep costs super-low without sacrificing services. I've brainstormed some solutions. Here they are:
  • Sublease office space from another office.
  • Share office personell. You can use someone else's front desk staff to check in your patients. Of course, you must provide this staff, which technically is not your own, with your own workstations with your own PM-EMR system and teach them how to enter data into the system accurately. And you probably ought to augment their salaries with your paychecks so that they work for you, rather than someone else, and are thus loyal to you. You can even share the other doctor's office manager and pay them, then make them oversee the front desk staff.
  • Purchase a good EMR-PM system. You may wish to consider an ASP model--or internet based model. These have no upfront costs to you and are payed on a monthly basis. Plus, the vendor manages all the technical aspects of the technology, such as back-up, upgrades, and interfacing.
  • Outsource your phones. Phone systems can get surprisingly expensive if one considers the cost of the systems themselves, the line-fees, maintenance, and the salaries + benefits of the people who answer the phones. Check out this site for an alternative approach to phone managememt.
  • Outsource your billing & credentialing functions. Sure, there are pro's and con's to this approach, but with the right company and proper over site from you it could work. Alternatively, with some of the better EMR-PM systems, you can do your own billing.
  • Use only automated laboratory equipment should you choose to provide some lab services in your office.
  • Any imaging equipment, such as ultrasound units, and of course your workstations must be portable, lightweight, and networked to your central server.
  • Outsource some marketing functions, like direct mail advertising or email advertising.
  • Make your own basic website and do your own basic SEO.
  • Outsource payrole services, pension fund management, accounting, and book keeping (make sure the book keeper is bonded).
With this approach, you can function quite well and grow significantly with only one employee, ie a medical assistant. Your costs can be half that of a tradiotional solo doctor's without much sacrifice. If planned correctly and executed well, this approach could work well for even a specialist.

If anyone has tried this approach, let me know.