Q&A: Cure for too much overtime; 10 ways to cut expenses; specialty-specific budget resources

October 23, 2009

Staff overtime can cost practices thousands of dollars yearly. Learn how to control overtime.

Q: How do I get better control of staff overtime?


A: Here's a "Top 10" list of cost-cutting techniques:

1) See more patients per hour to reduce fixed costs per patient.

2) Spend more time in the office seeing patients. When travel and OR detention is included, you'll find that out-of-office surgical assists and hospital rounding often lose you money.

3) Delegate all duties not requiring a physician license. You'd be surprised how many things you do that you wouldn't pay another physician to do, like opening mail.

4) Don't employ and pay for licensed staff to do unlicensed tasks. Most solo and small group practices don't need licensed nurses and often, if they have them, underuse them.

5) Use comprehensive forms and checklists for histories, physicals and progress notes to reduce the total time per patient while increasing the quality of time you do spend with them.

6) Eliminate frequent overtime. Reassign duties or hire additional staff instead.

7) It is cost effective to pay 20 percent over the market rate for an exceptional staff person that works 50 percent faster than other staff, and nets you the 30 percent difference.

8) Use an organized inventory control system such as "band-and-tag" to control supply costs and related inefficiencies due to not having what you need when you need it. Put a band around the remaining amount of items that need to be reordered, with an attached tag identifying the item and the amount to order and from where. Then, when the banded quantity is opened, throw the tag into the reorder file.

9) Price shop online for supplies and instrumentation, with delivery, reducing supply and related staffing costs.

10) Ask your landlord, vendors, suppliers, accountant and billing service for discounts or ways to reduce costs. The worst they can do is say no.