As medicine processes have evolved over the last few decades, including the rapid adoption of telemedicine, you may wonder what the future of your medical practice will look like. Will your practice operations change in the future? What expectations will future patients have? What direction is the healthcare system taking, and how does it affect you?
We have identified seven practice management challenges that all medical practitioners urgently need to address. Among them are digital, technological, and biotechnological challenges, the challenge of interprofessional communication, and the challenge of training a successor.
Must-have competencies to overcome practice management challenges
Before discussing the challenges, let’s see what the healthcare industry demands from a solo practitioner. To meet the needs of patients, at least seven competencies are essential for medical workers. These competencies, called CanMEDS, were developed by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in the 1990s. They are taught in medical curricula across the globe, including in the USA. The CanMEDS competencies include:
- Competence as a communicator with patients and colleagues
- Professional competence: Knowledge of the health system to work together with other specialists efficiently, practicing the profession within the limits of competence, adapting to society’s needs, and taking care of one’s health
- Competence as a leader in the health system at different levels
- Competence as a health promoter, including disease prevention
- Competence as a learner and teacher, including an aptitude for further training throughout the career and the transmission of knowledge to others
Part of being a physician is dealing with practice management challenges every day. Aside from dealing with the challenges of electronic health records, effective time-management, patient no-shows, and inefficiencies, many other practice management challenges must be addressed to avoid long-term consequences.
7 medical practice management challenges
In the United States, independent medicine is the backbone of the healthcare system, providing a higher degree of care at lower costs and resulting in better patient outcomes than hospitals or large medical groups.
Overall, physician practices provide most healthcare services in the United States. There are 990.8 million visits to physician-owned practices in the US each year, or an average of 3.1 visits per capita. For comparison, hospital outpatient visits amount to 125.7 million visits per year or 0.4 visits per capita. In addition to high workloads, physicians find themselves increasingly swamped by paperwork and other red tape.
How can you manage your practice in the best way possible? Let’s review the challenges practices face — and ways to overcome them.
Challenge #1: Increasing patient satisfaction
Your number one goal as a practitioner is ensuring your patients are happy with their treatment. Satisfied patients tend to return to their doctor and are more likely to follow their doctor's advice and stick to the treatment regimens. As a result, Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers are increasingly focused on patient satisfaction scores, with serious financial repercussions for providers if those scores fall short.
Practices want to maintain high patient satisfaction scores, but they don’t like to request unnecessary diagnostic tests or prescribe medications that may not be necessary. Communication with patients remains the cornerstone of the high-quality practice. It isn’t fair to patients to waste their time sitting in the waiting room only to have their concerns dismissed by an overworked doctor.
Solution: Telehealth enables the fast delivery of top-quality care, improving patient health outcomes. Virtual visits help patients save time and money. Additionally, patients feel valued when their health issues are addressed promptly, increasing patient satisfaction levels and preventing other practice management challenges from developing.
Building patient satisfaction is just one of the strategies to grow your practice. Learn about practical ways to build patient loyalty in our blog post on how telemedicine improves patient satisfaction.
Challenge #2: Meeting administrative and operational requirements
A clinic team may be able to manage for a while without a dedicated administrative expert on hand, but it won’t be easy. There is a significant risk of revenue being left on the table. An excellent office manager and administrative staff can substantially benefit a practice.
Solution: Keeping up with documents and recordkeeping is hard. Administrative requirements will only continue to grow for the foreseeable future, adding to your already long list of practice management challenges. When you have a busy practice, spending time and energy on administrative tasks results in less time and energy spent on patient care.
You can use software to automate repetitive and tedious tasks. For example, ExpertBox workflow automation software can:
- Make patient scheduling, and self-booking easier
- Assist with payments management and record-keeping
- Improve regulatory compliance
- Streamline document management, especially billing
- Improve communication via online feedback forms
We will cover these benefits in depth in the following sections, where we describe other practice management challenges.
With technology, you can spend more time enhancing patient care rather than trying to keep up with administrative duties. As a result, your day-to-day workload will be reduced, and you can better serve your patients and clients.
Challenge #3: Poor time management
Lack of time in the day is a constant challenge for some providers in independent healthcare practices. With patient expectations increasing, this practice management challenge will only increase too.
More and more patients want a one-on-one encounter with their physician to discuss their health concerns in detail. But most practices still operate on a fee-for-service model, despite the demand for a value-based approach.
Because of this, providers are under pressure to see a large number of patients to maximize revenue. Burnout among physicians increases as a result of this practice management challenge.
Solution: ExpertBox helps to combat the increasing time demands placed on practices by simplifying and optimizing clinical workflows. Using ExpertBox:
- Experts can add a buffer time to the duration, allowing them to prepare for the next session and remain in control of their time and advice.
- Practitioners can set their working schedules, show the times they’re available for appointments, and change their availability.
- Practitioners can offer offline appointments at practice locations and run group therapy meetings with multiple patients.
Challenge #4: Cumbersome scheduling
With practice management software, patients no longer need to call the clinic to schedule an appointment. Scheduling patients is a common task performed by practices that contribute significantly to their success.
In healthcare, 85 percent or more of a practice’s expenses are fixed, so maintaining and maximizing a practice’s revenue depends on efficiently scheduling patients.
To prevent duplicate bookings, all appointments can be tracked automatically with appointment scheduling tools.
Solution: ExpertBox has many features that simplify practice management:
- Patients can schedule appointments with a single click. By enabling this feature, you can eliminate all the time your patients spend waiting when they call.
- Returning patients can book appointments without having to re-enter personal information every time and go through all the booking steps.
- Experts can discuss their schedule and availability with patients via email, text messages, and phone calls.
- Practitioners can keep track of all new bookings and can cancel, reschedule, or skip last-minute appointments if they cannot make them.
- Practitioners get peace of mind knowing that their calendars show all appointments and other events in one place.
Managing your clinic or solo practice efficiently is easy once you know the best practices. Discover the top recommendations on running your practice smoothly and profitably.
Challenge #5: Too many no-shows
Patient no-shows are the bane of any practice, which is why reducing them is essential. By following these tips, you will reduce the number of no-shows in your office no matter the cause, whether it be transportation problems, forgetfulness, or financial issues.
Clinically and financially, a practice with a solid plan to reduce no-shows always does better than one that does not. Consider the following strategies to overcome this common practice management challenge:
- When only a few patients consistently miss appointments, avoid a blanket policy.
- If your no-shows are recurring, consider scheduling appointments one day in advance.
- Try not to focus your efforts solely on one day of the week, time of day, or season of the year to reduce no-shows. Your policy, including the refund policy, is more important than the timing of no-shows.
- Double-book a time slot in anticipation of the patient not showing up if they are a frequent no-show. By doing this, you will not lose revenue from an empty schedule slot.
- Consider additionally and directly contacting that small percentage of your patients who are most likely to not show. A handful of calls today could prevent problems tomorrow.
Solution: The appointment scheduling function in ExpertBox can boost your practice’s accessibility since it allows your patients to set their appointments and receive reminders in a way that’s convenient for them. There are several more features that can reduce no-show appointments for your practice:
- Sending automated reminders about scheduled appointments to patients via email or in the app
- Allowing patients to schedule their appointments with your clinic from anywhere and at any time
- Allowing patients to cancel scheduled appointments any time before they start
- Allowing practitioners to set up their own rescheduling rules to prevent cancellations or clone bookings, as well as to implement refund policies in case of cancellation
Challenge #6: Optimizing payment processes
Healthcare providers in 2022 face another challenge in practice management: the number of payment options available to their patients is still limited. Technology makes it possible for patients to expect frictionless, quick, and secure payment options.
You can offer digital payment options to your patients by integrating your billing software and patient portal. Patients can view, understand, and pay for their medical balances via their patient portal. Payment management software can assist in determining which payment plans to offer to patients in need.
Solution: To avoid this widespread practice management challenge, practitioners can improve their bottom line by using quality tools like ExpertBox. Among ExpertBox’s helpful features are the ability to:
- Collect payments automatically online
- Specify the refund policy in case of cancellation for each individual service
- Avoid billing mistakes by keeping receipts and credit notes for all transactions. This also helps to separate taxable and nontaxable income and claim all possible deductions when reporting income to tax agencies.
Challenge #7: Adhering to security and compliance demands
Cyberattacks pose a potential danger to medical practices that embrace digital transformation. The medical sector is particularly vulnerable to cybercrime. Hackers, scammers, and fraudsters can attempt to steal sensitive information about patients via your patient records. Your responsibility as a practitioner is to protect such information.
Solution: Ensure that your security features are up to date with reliable, HIPAA-certified, and compliant medical practice management software. You may also wish to invest in software solutions such as anti-malware software, firewalls, antivirus software, and more to enhance the security of your digital systems.
Making the right decision
Medical professionals must recognize these challenges and be ready to overcome them. Practice management software solutions such as ExpertBox can help you navigate around the most common roadblocks before they become impassable.
Discover how you can run your practice smoothly, manage your schedule, and also deliver the best possible telemedicine services. Take ExpertBox for a test drive and see all the benefits for yourself.
The top 7 challenges faced by medical practices are
- Inability to meet patient’s expectations
- Administrative and operational requirements
- Poor time management
- Cumbersome scheduling
- Limited payment options and complicated billing processes
- Security and compliance