December 2018

OPHTHALMOLOGY BUSINESS

Be there, be seen, be smart: Increase revenue within your ophthalmic business


by William B. Rabourn Jr.

Ophthalmic practices and ASCs are a special kind of enterprise that place much of the responsibility of maintaining or increasing revenue directly on the physician(s). To appreciate just how unique these medical businesses are, consider the common structure of other businesses in which there is a product and a team to make and sell that product. Each member of the team is assigned a different role (C-suite members, operations director, sales representatives, etc.) to keep production within the organization running efficiently. If one team member is temporarily absent, the operation need not stop, and the business may continue to bring in revenue.
Inside an ophthalmic business, however, this delegation of responsibilities is not as concrete. While key operational roles are still assigned to administrators, technicians, and staff, in many cases the physician is still expected to fill multiple roles while also serving as the product itself. This means that when the physician is absent or unable to see patients, the operation and the flow of revenue may cease, or at least slow down.
With so much pressure placed on the physician in this form of medical business, adopting certain strategies may help offload some of the burden and help increase practice or ASC revenue. All it takes is being there, being seen, and being smart.

Be there

If you want to know how much revenue an ophthalmic practice or ASC will make next year, start by looking at the number of vacation days the physicians plan to take. The “be there” strategy requires no overthinking. It simply means the physician is present and seeing patients regularly. Some may think this strategy is too simple to include here, but the hard truth is that almost all ophthalmic practices and ASCs find themselves combating this issue at some point or another.
Embracing the “be there” strategy does not mean the physician must see patients 24/7, 365 days a year to be successful. Every ophthalmic business will have different needs. It means that physicians and other managers of an ophthalmic business plan carefully, recognizing the impact the physician’s absence will have on the business. This is especially important when analyzing performance statistics and making operational improvements. When all the factors affecting performance are taken into account and those making decisions have a realistic expectation of cash flow, the team is better able to determine accurately what operational changes will be most beneficial.

Be seen

In addition to being present, it is important for both the business and the physician to be easily seen by the right audience. In other words, properly marketing and advertising allows the business to ensure it consistently appears in front of current and potential patients. After all, if no one knows the physician is there, his or her effort to be present and available for patients is wasted.
Again, based on the ophthalmic practice’s or ASC’s size, structure, services, economic condition, and other factors, execution of the “be seen” strategy will look different for each business. Research your audience before committing to the mediums through which you intend to reach them, or consult a marketing expert. If you decide to ask for help with crafting a marketing and advertising campaign, seek out a consultant who understands the ophthalmic and medical industry specifically. This will save time and money overall, as these experts do not require constant oversight and tend to need much less direction to produce a campaign that suits the unique needs of an eye care business.

Be smart

This concept of asking for outside help brings us to the third and final strategy with which an ophthalmic business may take the pressure off physicians while increasing revenue: Be smart. Find trusted experts to delegate to that the business may depend on. Do the math, calculate the potential ROI, and invest in an internal or third-party team of professionals whose collective knowledge base allows the physician to get back to caring for patients—where the real revenue lies. This team may include:
• Lawyers
• Additional staff
• Accountants
• Practice/ASC consultants
• Ophthalmic marketing consultants
• Administration
• Additional physician/business partner
• Sales representatives
In addition, professional organizations such as ASCRS•ASOA, the Outpatient Ophthalmic Surgery Society (OOSS), the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the American Academy of Executives (AAOE), and others are great resources designed to support and empower ophthalmic businesses. Many of the organizations offer resources such as educational courses and webinars, proprietary benchmarking, comprehensive research reports, legislative updates, articles and publications, white papers, practical staff training tools, and more.

Conclusion

Increasing the flow of revenue within your ophthalmic business is always a process, and one that should be customized to your practice or ASC. However, this increase does not always require a drastic change. Each of these three recommended strategies—being there, seen, and smart—are not revolutionary ideas. It is exactly because of this that they are often overlooked, especially as each ophthalmic business fights to gain a competitive edge. The good news for busy physicians is that sometimes a simple strategy is the best way to achieve that edge.

About the author


Mr. Rabourn is founder and managing principal of Medical Consulting Group in Springfield, Missouri. He can be contacted at bill@medcgroup.com.

Be there, be seen, be smart: Increase revenue within your ophthalmic business Be there, be seen, be smart: Increase revenue within your ophthalmic business
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