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Tips (No, not the Restaurant Kind)


If you are a Golfer In Recovery, you will recognize this genre from the golf magazines and, less helpfully, your friends on the tee just after you've sliced one into the woods.

No, not the restaurant kind, but the little nuggets and pearls that may strike a chord to boost performance or satisfaction or financial gain. If you are a Golfer In Recovery, as I am, you will recognize the genre from the golf magazines and, less helpfully, your friends on the tee just after you've sliced one into the woods.

Tips, financial or golfing, are not meant to be a system overhaul, just a little fillip to hopefully get you thinking...

- A "Retention Coordinator," a separate employee using a consistent recall strategy reviewing your records, returns $8.53 for each $1.00 spent on them, one study showed. It is a separate position, even if part-time.

- Every $1.00 spent on a physician assistant or RN practitioner yields over a dollar back in profit. In my experience, it's more than that, and they consistently do a very professional job.

- 75% of patients leave the physician's office with a prescription. It is unclear if this is indicated, expected, or not.

- The average pharmacy fills 250 prescriptions a day and makes three mistakes. What we don't know is how many physician mistakes a)are caught and corrected by pharmacists or b) are missed and contribute to the total.

- Strategy is much easier than execution.

- A practice brochure given to every patient will increase understanding, cut down on phone calls, and save you money. Outline hours, services, contact, and payment policies, a brief bio and a section on "How to get the most from your physician visit." I'm always surprised how few patients have thought ahead and prepared for maximizing the time with their physician through simple tasks such as writing down both a list of questions and your answers. If they bring a list, take it and manage the interview. Offer a pad and pencil, or write the answers yourself. You'll both feel more satisfied and, remember, if you don't do something similar, it can end up being an expensive oversight all around. Unnecessary calls, visits, and mistakes can be reduced.

- Collection agencies average about a 15% success rate and take 20 - 50% of any money recovered. That's only about a 10% return on what you send them, to say nothing of the long delay and staff time spent keeping track. It makes more (dollars and) sense to make a better collection effort up front. Use credit cards, get partial payment, give them a return mailer, etc.

- If you want to know a) how to save money and b) improve service, ask your employees. They always know what's going on and will be pleased to tell you, if asked. You will probably be surprised with the results. Set up a financial rewards program and smiles all around will result.

- The simplest improvement to your tax strategy is to start in January and keep all your personal and professional records organized from the start. Ask your CPA what method will help you both the most.

- Studies consistently show that well-groomed docs rate the most respect and all that comes with it. Patients prefer a sharp white coat, a name badge, pressed pants/skirt, dress shoes, and conservative hair. You can be well trained and dedicated, but scrubs, sandals, and jeans, for instance, often create a different impression. I've always thought that the office is about the patient, not me. I save the piercings, the hair spikes and the (decal) tattoos for after work.

- If you run late consistently, it makes stress for you, your staff, and your patients. To help the situation, sit down for 5 minutes and sketch out what your actual work flow process looks like. Ask your staff to help. You'll probably see the problem(s) right away and a relatively simple fix. For example, if you start late, you're usually doomed. How can you plan an easier take-off?

- If you are always second-guessing yourself on financial choices, keep a list of hunches, tips, ideas of what you might have done, and date them. Six months later, you'll have a more accurate idea of whether or not your gut is a trustworthy voice on these things. Usually not, but you don't know unless you keep track.

- For example of how hard it is to make profitable financial choices, even mutual funds only beat the market indexes 15% of the time; that's 1/7. But funds whose managers own their own shares do 30% better, it should be noted. So if you want to invest in managed funds instead of indexed funds, it's worth looking into whether fund managers won their own shares before you buy.

- 2/3 of people take their social security at 62 and 44% of all retirees live exclusively on social security (!). Thank goodness for IRAs and 401ks.

- The primary wealth destroyers are inattention, greed, and debt. Amen.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice