Whether they like to admit or not, physician practices are actually small businesses, subject to many of the same challenges and rewards as other businesses. These days that can mean a cash flow squeeze as patients (customers) stay away or cut back on what they spend, while fixed costs like rent and staff are hard to eliminate. With more of the health care dollar being paid out-of-pocket, the problem is more severe in this downturn than its been in the past. Even patients with good insurance now feel the financial pain when they go for services. For truly elective procedures like LASIK, all of a sudden folks aren’t in such a hurry. Believe it or not there are doctors in this country who are barely able to pay themselves a salary and are thinking of throwing in the towel.
Practice consultants typically make their living from practices looking to expand, but today more are coming to them trying to figure out how to survive. The good news is that’s its usually possible to make significant improvements that improve cash flow without taking draconian steps.
One practice consultant, Vantage Clinical Solutions in Bend, Oregon is using the tough times to make friends. It’s offering a free Keep the Doors Open program through March 31 for small and mid-sized practices trying to do just that. Vantage is offering a complimentary strategy session for struggling practices, presumably hoping they’ll turn into paying customers once things improve. So far, owner Tannus Quatre reports receiving a lot of interest from practices along with some media attention.January 22, 2009