Running a practice is one thing. Managing it for efficiency and profitability is quite a different approach altogether.
Medical practitioners are an intelligent, capable sort. Years of training, along with the many challenges of patient consultation and care, moulds a professional mindset that has to be ready for just about anything. But this does not mean that all doctors or specialists have a natural ability to manage a small or medium sized business. In fact, there is no reason to expect a practitioner to be commercially minded at all. The Hippocratic oath upholds ethical standards, not cash flow.
The day-to-day realities of establishing, let alone growing a private practice, can be daunting. From the outset there is the realisation that a successful practice needs to reach, and sustain, a minimum level of monthly patient turnover to be viable. There is an immediate need to balance business sense with professional undertaking. But the doctor’s important service to a community should never feel compromised by the demands of what is, essentially, a consulting business.
“It’s about creating, and sustaining, the right professional environment. The doctor’s first and foremost concern is to deliver a top-notch medical consultation. But the time-consuming admin of a practice is also very much part of the patient’s experience. This is not where the doctor’s precious, and profitable, time should be taken up.”
Da Silva points out the personal, hands-on, Healthbridge approach. “First we need to understand the specific needs of the doctor. We then tailor to what the doctor requires. Our partnered goal is to reach a smoothly managed practice where the medical professional feels comfortably in control. It means that the doctor can be completely focused on the patient experience. Thorough, engaging consultations make for satisfied patients, which must ultimately enhance the reputation and success of the practice.”
Laurels were never made for resting. Established Johannesburg GP, Dr Rodney Feinberg, has run his practice successfully for many years. More recently, as electronic administration became more sophisticated, so Dr Feinberg realised that he needed an equally sophisticated support system. He was immediately attracted to the personal, one-on-one Healthbridge approach, where a dedicated specialist quickly got to grips with his specific operation and requirements. “We needed to reduce the huge administrative burden on the practice,” says Dr Feinberg. “The new Healthbridge 360 upgrade upped the game for my practice.”
Healthbridge 360 is designed to help practices through the key steps in their practice; from checking patient benefits and submitting claims to automatic reconciliation of medical aid payments. The administrative front desk quickly, and effectively, separates the commercial aspect from the reason the patient is there in the first place – to enjoy the benefit of a professionally focused, engaged medical consultation. In real-time, the practice can do a Benefit Check on the patient’s medical aid status, confirming if sufficient funds are available to cover the consultation. The patient knows up front what the likely addition will be that they will personally need to cover. Dr Feinberg enjoys the fact that the doctor-patient relationship is immediately transparent. The patients “know right from the beginning, if they are indebted.” Directly after the consultation, real-time Claims allows the patient the comfort of knowing immediately that their medical aid funds are booked and will be paid to their doctor – with no nasty surprises after they leave if they need to settle any balance.
Then comes the real convenience. Medical aid payments are automatically matched to claims and reconciled. This is arguably the biggest time saver in the practice’s daily admin workload, and reduces a process that used to take hours, to just a few minutes. If there is a balance outstanding, you can now notify and remind the patient by email or SMS. And, for some clients who have signed up for retail payments, their patients can also conveniently settle their bill at their closest participating retailer.
Healthbridge brings a tried and tested business approach to managing a smoothly operated and profitable practice. But perhaps the stand-out feature of having Healthbridge as your practice partner is that the experience is just that: a partnership. Healthbridge has long been known for nurturing a healthy personal relationship with their doctor clients. “If the doctor does well, we do well,” asserts da Silva. “It’s as simple as that.” It is a model and formula that speaks straight to the Healthbridge promise of “Good business. Best practice.”