Whatever your practice plans and goals are for 2017, one thing is certain. Tidying up the 2016 loose ends and preparing your practice for what’s ahead prepare you for the upcoming challenges.
Here’s a suggested checklist for common year-end chores. Use it as a starting point and add your own important items:
Be sure the 2017 Medicare fee schedule has been uploaded into your PM system and is ready to go.
Review your practice fee schedule to be sure there are no charges that are lower than what any insurance companies will reimburse. If so, adjust accordingly. Many practices set a standard multiplier of what their fees will be for consistency and review annually.
Do you have doctors out of the office for holiday time or more end-of-year surgery, and subsequently more staff scheduled to work than needed on certain days? If you are not a practice utilizing flexible staffing and sending them home, create a special project list and monitor its completion to avoid staff downtime. The list can include assignments such as super thorough cleaning of exam rooms, finding every hidden expired drug sample, cleaning every nook and cranny in the office, saying goodbye to the outdated magazines in the waiting rooms, etc.
Walk around the office and remove every paper sign that has somehow found its way onto the wall. Either don’t replace it or exchange it for a permanent professional sign, or at the very least a good-looking, clean, laminated version.
Review all department operations manuals and update accordingly. This helps prepare each department for the 2017 round of new employee orientation and training. And it can help you streamline existing policies after you read them and ask, why are we doing it this way?
Review and revise the employee handbook. Email a copy to all practice personnel. Have them sign a confirmation stating they have received and read the update, and then file this confirmation in each HR file. This helps in two ways. First, it’s a good refresher for everyone to know the practice policies and procedures. We’ve all been amazed at how whisper-down-the-lane rules can get twisted. Second, it’s helpful for progressive discipline action purposes.
If you haven’t already, check to be sure that PTO for staff will be used or applied to whatever policies you have, such as payout or carryover. If you have an employee or two who were not able to utilize their time off benefits because of temporary understaffing and they covered to keep your practice running smoothly, consider offering them a limited time extension carryover of PTO or a premium payout for their loyalty, as appropriate.
Are you ready MIPS? Get ready for January! (Not sure what to do next? Time to find an adviser.)
Refresh the office. Have the carpets and chairs cleaned professionally. Do you regularly check the patient entrance? Be sure the flower containers have not morphed into a cigarette refuge. Perhaps the entrance would look better with some welcoming planters?
Get yourself organized. Encourage all your management staff to do the same. Review and dispose of old email and paper files. Or at least put this on your to-do list for the first 2 weeks in January.
Finally, ask yourself how you could have stayed more organized this year. Write a short plan for yourself. And begin the new year energized and organized!
Corinne Z. Wohl, MHSA, COE
, is president of C. Wohl & Associates, Inc., an ophthalmic management consulting firm. She earned her master of health services administration degree at The George Washington University and has more than 30 years of hospital and physician practice management experience. She is an enthusiastic author and national presenter on ophthalmic leadership strategy, practice operations enhancement, financial benchmarking and analysis, and management team development. Corinne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-410-2932.