Many ECPs are feeling squeezed. Lower insurance reimbursements and increased competition for sales of glasses and contact lenses have made it harder for all of us to grow our practices. If your business isn’t heading in the direction you want, or has seen little to no growth of income, it’s time to take a critical look at your business and see where the problems lie.
By stepping back from the day-to-day and looking at things with a fresh perspective, you’re bound to find areas where your practice can improve. I’ll save the topic of patient scheduling, staff, and bettering customer service for another time. The improvements I’m speaking of here are regarding bottom line, specifically looking at your profit and loss (P&L) statements and the services you provide.
By examining””and yes, dissecting”” your P&L you can gain better insight about the “health” of your practice. The numbers don’t lie, which is why it’s important to go line by line. This way, you’re more likely to find where you are overspending and perhaps where the money leaks are. Understanding these numbers will guide you to make more informed decisions about everything from staffing, to frame inventory, to accepting certain insurance plans.
This is not a one-time deal, folks. You should be looking at your P&L statement at least once per quarter. If the practice net is low, it’s time to dig deeper. Evaluating the insurance and vision plans you accept, what you are getting paid, as well as your chair costs, can be a real eye opener. It may be time to drop the lowest-paying plans and focus more on your best patients, in addition to growing your practice by exceeding all patients’ expectations.
Finally, ask yourself if you are maximizing savings through buying groups on frame and lens purchases, contact lenses, and office supplies””and be honest. It may be time to revisit your cost of goods for these categories. Your staff should also be aware of the savings that exist for your office when done through buying groups.
With the information gained, think about what changes can be made to improve your net. What steps can be taken to increase the number of exams and office visits? What specialty services can you offer and what technology may help you grow your practice? There is much you can do to better your circumstances. Spending time away from the slit lamp and on those P&L statements are where many of the answers may lie.
ERIC L. BRAN, OD, PROFESSIONAL EDITOR