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7 suggestions on how to grow your revenues
By Stephen W. Earnhart, MS
Earnhart & Associates
Business does not succeed on its expenses, or lack thereof. Healthy companies rely on revenue and then appropriate expenses to thrive. Surgery is no different than any other service industry: We need revenue to grow and become or stay profitable.
I grow weary of managers who focus on expenses. They bore me. They should get out of their cubby and get a life.
Any surgery program, be it hospital-based or freestanding, can succeed only if it draws blood. No blood, no profit. Suction it up, cauterized it, bandage it, wipe it; it makes no difference: You have to do actual surgery to make it happen.
If managers spend half as much of their time focusing on revenue and not expenses, there would be many more successful programs out there. Simple formulas for the financially savvy, based upon production, can all but eliminate time-consuming expense justification. The same goes for silly, nonproductive meetings that are held under the guise of actually producing something of value in the workplace. How many times have you had discussions that centered on "How can we retain our surgeons?" or "What can we do to attract new surgeons into our program?" or, the completely unheard-of topic these days, "How can we help our surgeons see more patients and bring more of them to our operating rooms?"
The auto industry quickly discovered that everything they had built over the decades quickly came crashing down when people stopped buying cars. Dud! The housing industry is falling apart because people stopped buying houses. The stock market crashed when people stopped buying stock. Surgical programs die when patients stop having surgery or start having surgery someplace else. Surgeons bring patients; patients bring blood. Simple logic determines that encouraging surgeons to bring more patients encourages more success. After that happens, you can start working on your expenses and attend meetings again.
Let me suggest a few things:
Clearly, this method will not work for all of you, but what happens if it works for your competition?
Surgeons are creatures of habit. It is difficult to get them to change their preferences or get their staff to change theirmodus operandi. That can work in your favor in many ways. However, when you throw in all the variables to that scenario, i.e., ownership in another facility, slow staff, long turnover time, inadequate or outdated equipment, lackadaisical behavior, or indifference to their issues and values, you set a stage for them to change their alliance very quickly. So, focus on what you do best: surgery, not accounting. Get the cases first, keep the cases – exquisitely – and lastly, grow the cases.
The singer Kenny Rogers has a song called the "Gambler." Some of the lyrics stand out: "You never count your money, when you're sitting at the table, they'll be time enough for counting, when the dealings done."
Go deal. Count later. (Earnhart & Associates is an ambulatory surgery consulting firm specializing in all aspects of outpatient surgery development and management. Contact Earnhart at 13492 Research Blvd., Suite 120-258, Austin, TX 78750-2254. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: www.earnhart.com.)