When it comes to revenue studies, why do patients really choose you?

According to new research in the January issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, "The most preferred clinic would be with a specialist that has over 10 years of experience, is recommended by the general practitioner, costs 15 percent less than average, with a travel time between 0 and 30 minutes, is a local clinic, and has an extensive online presentation," study authors conclude.

Areas of Growth

The overall growth in cosmetic procedures is being primarily driven by a substantial rise in minimally invasive procedures. The way in which cosmetic procedures are rising, then, may be an indication of continued economic struggle, with consumers electing to go with cheaper procedures (chemical peels, Botox®, laser hair removal) partly because they don’t have the money for invasive, big-ticket surgeries like rhinoplasty. The growth areas for plastic surgery, if you will, are for pectoral implants, buttock implants, buttock lifts, cheek implants, lip augmentation and chin augmentation.

Plastic surgeons have complained of working harder for the same or less income in recent years. They also complain of falling fees for reconstructive surgery and increasing competition for cosmetic surgery. Plastic surgeons have adjusted their practice profiles in recent years. They have increased their caseloads and shifted their practices toward cosmetic surgery, most likely with the goal of maintaining their incomes. The strategy appears to have been successful in the short term. However, physicians in plastic surgery practices are encountering more challenges today than at any time in the modern medicine era, as many other specialists are competing for the minimally invasive procedures.

Considering the above, it is very important to have a continuous stream of new patients in order to keep your practice afloat. Aggressive advertising has become the norm. Considering the tough economy, it is mandatory to implement systems that will accommodate payment plan options for your patients. This will benefit your practice in the long run by ensuring a steady flow of cash and will make it affordable for the patient paying for the more expensive procedures.  

EMR

In the highly competitive world of cosmetic surgery, image is everything. This is a specialty inherently based on innovation, and to stay relevant, practitioners must stay ahead of the technology curve. While cosmetic surgeons are quick to offer patients the latest and greatest body contouring procedure, many may be falling behind when it comes to healthcare information technology.

The US Department of Health and Human Services implemented the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act to improve patient care by encouraging, and eventually requiring, physicians of all specialties to adopt electronic medical record (EMR) systems.

Plastic surgeons perform both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, and for some, the majority of their practice revenue and patient volume may be derived from reconstructive surgery, which is typically insurance-reimbursed. Elective cosmetic surgery is not subject to certain HITECH Act penalties that a plastic surgeon's Medicare- or Medicaid-reimbursed reconstructive surgical revenue is subject to. After 2015, there will be penalties for those who bill Medicare and Medicaid if they are not participating in the Meaningful Use attestation process. If you do enough Medicare/Medicaid work, your EMR system can pay for itself. But even if you don't participate in Medicare or Medicaid, failure to get on the EMR bandwagon may be shortsighted.

In the future, licensure and certification processes may require demonstration of some version of Meaningful Use of EMR systems, and paper chart holdouts may find their practices threatened. Even cash-for-service practices may be affected if there is further government pressure tied to utilization of healthcare information technology.

The EMR Edge

There are other perks to going paperless, particularly for plastic surgeons. Some EMR systems have patient education tools, allowing plastic surgeons to show the details of a proposed surgery via interactive screens on an iPad. The surgeon can draw on a patient's photos or select from a library of educational content to help patients visualize what goes on before, during and after surgery. This can help build patient confidence and add intrinsic value to the consultation.

In addition, if the EMR system employs the latest advances in cloud computing and tablet workflow, doctors can spend more time being doctors and less time with data entry and filing.

So why are there still so many holdouts? The biggest fear is a potential practice upheaval for the staff and cost of implementation. Yes, there will be a learning curve, just as there is with your new liposuction device, but that wouldn't stop you from offering the procedure. The good news is that these systems are becoming increasingly intuitive, making adoption more seamless, and in the long term, they do save money.

Practice Efficiency & Profits

Whether you have an elective cash-pay practice or reconstructive surgery practice, operational efficiency will help lower your overhead and increase profits. In order to help you with this, we have developed benchmarking tools which, when maintained consistently, prevent practice or procedure flaws that would cause the practice to lose money, thereby enhancing profits.

 

We are here to help define your current and future practice needs to ensure your success. For a complimentary consultation on how to increase the financial success of your plastic surgery practice, please provide the "Quick Contact" information on the sidebar, and we will contact you to schedule a free consultation, including EMR consulting. We serve the communities of Manhattan, New Hyde Park, Manhasset, Hauppauge, Syosset, New York and nearby areas.

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