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Physician practices face much uncertainty, but there are five steps they can take to control and optimize the revenue cycle.

The economy, health reform, payer regulations and other sweeping industry changes are dramatically affecting practice revenue. The uncertainty has many healthcare leaders feeling overwhelmed, especially since a number of these factors are outside their control. However, while change is inevitable, there are many opportunities for practices to take control of their revenue cycles.

This article will explain five steps to optimizing the revenue cycle and preparing proactively for industry changes.

Step 1: Adopt integrated electronic health record (EHR) and practice management (PM) solutions

Thinking of buying a new analyzer or upgrading old equipment? Acting before the end of the calendar year might be in your best interest.

Section 179 of the IRS tax code encourages small business owners to invest in equipment or technology by allowing the deduction of 100% of the asset's value in the first year.

When physician practices acquire new equipment – including lab equipment, analyzers, furniture, certain software and more – they may deduct up to $500,000 of the value during the first year of ownership.

Many Physician's Office Laboratories (POLs) were opened to provide quick and accurate diagnostic results to clinicians by keeping testing in house. In 2012, this model was in place for 116,634 of the 232,996 laboratories in the U.S.1 Many of these labs are in the office practices of primary care physicians, and some are in specialty practices that made the decision to have an in-house laboratory based on the necessity or desire of having certain tests at their fingertips.

A Menu of Options for Improving Care

When doctors and other health care providers can work together to coordinate patient care, patients receive higher quality care and we all see lower costs. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, healthcare providers have a range of ways to partner with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to get new support and resources to do just that. There are options for healthcare providers of all sizes, types, all across the country.

Q: What is best way to keep up with expiration dates for reagents, controls, and other materials?

 

A: I suggest making an Excel database for all items you currently use. You can set it up to change colors when an item listed reaches its expiration date. Another method you can use is a shelf system. Put newly received items on a lower shelf and mark them with the received date. Put items in use on a higher shelf and date them with an opened date and open expiration date. What is an open expiration date, you ask? Glad you are so full of questions! The open expiration date is the date that a product expires once opened. Most reagents, controls, and calibrators are good until the date printed on the label as long they are not opened. Once opened, the expiration date is usually shortened to 30 or 60 days.

Overall, the "Triple Aim" approach to the improvement of healthcare is sound. In accordance with the concept, physicians are to provide the highest level of care, patients are to have the best possible healthcare experience and the service itself is to be provided at the lowest cost. While the last corner in the Triple Aim triangle is a continuing challenge for physicians (and politicians), this article will focus on the first two, that of physician productivity and of patient satisfaction.

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