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Clinician’s Guide on How to Run a Clinic Successfully
Primary Care

Clinician’s Guide on How to Run a Clinic Successfully

Published: 25/06/2024

Written by: Mike Battista

Running a successful private clinic requires more than medical expertise; it demands a strategic approach to operations, financials, and patient experience. Transitioning from the academic rigors of medical school to the multifaceted challenges of running a private practice can be a daunting leap for many healthcare professionals, but it doesn’t have to be.

In this blog, we gather perspectives on how to run a clinic successfully for those just starting out, bridging business aspects with approaches to patient care. We connect considerations around finances, expanding services, marketing to patient-centered care. Read on to learn more.

Working Definition of Private Medical Practice Payment Models

Before we delve deeper into the article, let's briefly define each payment model in the United States healthcare system and discuss how they may apply to your own medical practice.

Fee-for-service is a payment model in healthcare where providers are compensated based on the quantity of services they deliver. In this model, each service or procedure is billed separately, and the payment is made for each service rendered.

Value-based care (VBC) is a healthcare delivery model in which providers, including hospitals and physicians, are incentivized based on patient health outcomes. Under VBC, providers are incentivized to offer the best care at the lowest cost, with the goal of improving patient health and satisfaction while reducing overall healthcare expenses.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program in the United States that provides health coverage to low-income individuals and families, including children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people with disabilities.

Medicare provides coverage to specific groups, such as individuals aged 65 and older, regardless of income, as well as certain younger people with disabilities.

Tips for Running a Successful Medical Practice

Running a medical practice extends beyond the day-to-day operations. In the following sections, we'll discuss several methods that can benefit your patients as well as your clinic's bottom line.

Let’s delve into some strategies that can help you run a successful medical practice, including making your medical clinic profitable.

Take a Patient-Centered Approach

Patient-centered care is not just a buzzword; it's a game-changer in the healthcare industry, and for good reason. Its definition is providing “care that is respectful of, and responsive to, individual patient preferences, needs and values". By adopting this approach, clinics not only address the medical aspects but also support their patients' emotional and psychological needs, fostering patient enablement and engagement.

For instance, a 2023 review found that tailoring care to individual patient needs and preferences enhances patient satisfaction and engagement. This can ultimately lead to better financial outcomes for hospitals. A policy brief in Health Affairs highlighted that patients who were more involved in their healthcare decisions had lower healthcare costs and experienced better outcomes.

Encourage Preventive Care

Preventive care emphasizes disease prevention to enhance patient outcomes and minimize chronic illness costs. The adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is particularly relevant in healthcare.

Preventive strategies include:

  • Health screenings
  • Immunizations
  • Patient education

This promotes early detection and more effective, less invasive treatments. For instance, a study in the American Heart Association found that early identification of high blood pressure can lead to lifestyle adjustments and medication treatment plans that can slow the disease progression. 

By integrating preventive care, clinics foster a healthier community and stand out in a competitive market.

Improve Patient Satisfaction

Improving the patient experience is about creating a healthcare environment where patients feel genuinely valued and cared for, not just during their in-clinic visit but throughout the entire continuum of care, including pre-visit preparations and post-visit follow-ups. 

Some of these strategies may involve an initial investment in establishing new processes, adopting technology, or spending. Yet the benefits to patient satisfaction can support the sustainability of a practice.

Here are a few ways to improve the patient experience:

  • Enhanced physical spaces: Clinics can reduce patient stress and increase comfort by creating private, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing consultation areas. A systematic review has shown that well-designed physical environments contribute to better patient care experiences. Strategies can be tailored to the types of patient populations a clinic predominantly serves—for example, dimmer lighting, white noise, or reduced noise can benefit patients with migraines, brain injuries, or concussion. 
  • Accessibility improvements: Features like wheelchair ramps, automatic doors, and adjustable examination tables can greatly enhance the patient experience, especially for those with limited mobility.
  • Telehealth options: Offering telehealth services, like virtual consultations and remote monitoring, can improve access to care, especially for patients with mobility limitations or those living in remote areas. A systematic review found that telehealth improved outcomes, increased ease of use, lowered costs, and decreased travel time. 
  • Extended hours and flexible scheduling: Providing appointments in the evenings and on weekends can greatly increase convenience for those with tight schedules. This can look like adapting the clinic’s hours, schedule, and staffing needs based on when patients are most likely to be available for appointments.
  • Cultural competency training for staff: Ensuring that staff are trained in cultural competency can lead to a more inclusive environment where all patients feel welcome and understood. One article recommends cultural humility as a process-oriented approach to patient care that can improve patient-provider interactions, particularly in diverse patient populations. Gathering information on cultural competency training can look like surveying patient groups for feedback or hiring a consultant to train staff.
  • On-site childcare services: On-site childcare can allow parents to focus on their own health without concern for their children's well-being during the appointment. A 2022 study found that among pilot clinics in the first year of offering no-cost childcare, 175 patients enrolled 271 children, with 81% making appointments and 68% using the service. Most participants were women, predominantly Hispanic and Black, who learned about the program through clinic staff and signage.

Solicit Patient Feedback

Clinics that actively seek patient feedback can make informed decisions to enhance the quality of care and patient satisfaction. A 2018 study emphasizes that patient insights are crucial for the development of patient-centered services. By establishing a feedback loop, clinics demonstrate to patients that their experiences and opinions are highly valued, fostering a relationship of trust and openness.

Get the Word Out

In the digital era, a robust online presence is not just beneficial but essential for clinics looking to attract and retain patients. Here are some examples of how clinics can leverage digital marketing:

  • Social media engagement: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter) allow clinics to connect with their community, share updates, and promote health awareness campaigns. 
  • Email marketing: Clinics can keep in touch with their patients and encourage repeat visits by sending newsletters, appointment reminders, and personalized health tips. 
  • Online reputation management: Encouraging satisfied patients to leave positive reviews on platforms like Google and Yelp can enhance a clinic's reputation and attract new patients. 

Hire, Retain, and Motivate Your Healthcare Team

Now, let’s discuss building a strong healthcare team, from administrators to providers. Cohesive teams are imperative to a healthcare clinic's success and offer insights into incentivizing staff and embracing technology to improve workflows.

Build a Strong Healthcare Team

Hiring a cohesive team of providers and administrative staff is fundamental to the success of any healthcare clinic. Research indicates that a well-coordinated team can significantly enhance patient care and clinic efficiency. For instance, the Journal of Hospital Medicine published a review demonstrating that interdisciplinary teamwork in healthcare settings is associated with enhanced patient outcomes, higher nurse retention, and lower hospital costs.

Retain Your Employees

A stable and experienced workforce ensures the consistent delivery of high-quality patient care and contributes to the clinic's overall efficiency and reputation. A study found that reducing employee turnover is critical, especially in the medical sphere, because frequent turnover can increase patient mishaps, reduce the quality of patient care, and cost organizations millions, among other issues. 

Incentivize Your Staff

Creating a system of incentives is a powerful way to motivate staff and promote a positive work environment. Research has shown that financial and non-financial incentives can increase job satisfaction and productivity. For example, in the same research, organizations found they could increase employee loyalty through meaningful incentives. 

Embrace Technology to Improve Workflows

Technology has revolutionized the healthcare industry, from patient care to administrative tasks. Healthcare providers can now automate communications, use scheduling and reminder systems, and manage medical equipment, significantly streamlining their clinics' operations.

Automate Communications

Automating communications within a healthcare clinic can significantly improve efficiency and patient satisfaction. By implementing systems that automatically handle appointment reminders, follow-ups, and even routine health tips, clinics can ensure consistent communication without placing additional burdens on staff. Here are some key points supported by research:

  • Reduced no-shows: Automated reminder systems have been shown to decrease the number of missed appointments. A study found that text message reminders reduced no-show rates (but not punctuality).
  • Enhanced patient engagement: Regular communication through automated systems can keep patients engaged in their healthcare. Research in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that digital communication, such as text messages and email, helps young people access clinicians when managing long-term health conditions.
  • Streamlined workflow: By automating routine tasks, staff can focus on more critical aspects of patient care, thus improving clinic workflow. A study showed that automation leads to a more streamlined workflow, which can contribute to better patient outcomes.
  • Improved data accuracy: Automated systems help reduce errors in patient communication and record-keeping. 

Consider These Telehealth Tools

Telehealth has become an integral part of modern healthcare, offering a convenient and efficient way for patients to access medical services remotely. Some equipment can be useful when facilitating virtual consultations and remote patient monitoring. Essential telehealth equipment includes:

  • High-quality cameras: These are for clear visual communication during virtual consultations.
  • Advanced microphones: To ensure audio clarity and reduce misunderstandings.
  • Reliable Internet connectivity: A stable and fast Internet connection is crucial for uninterrupted telehealth sessions.
  • Secure software platforms: For video conferencing, automated transcripts, or digitized intake forms, for example, platforms must comply with healthcare privacy regulations such as HIPAA to protect patient information.
  • User-friendly patient interfaces: From cognitive assessments to scheduling and sign-in platforms, user-friendly UX facilitate ease of use for patients of all ages and tech-savviness levels.

A 2022 study demonstrated that telehealth services can significantly reduce patient healthcare costs. By leveraging the right technology, healthcare providers can offer remote care that is both accessible and of high quality, which is particularly beneficial for patients in rural areas or those with mobility challenges.

Expand Your Services

Expanding the services offered by your clinic can significantly enhance patient satisfaction and clinic revenue. By offering new and specialized services, you can meet the diverse needs of your patient population and stay ahead in the competitive healthcare market. Read on to discover how to broaden your clinic's offerings to provide more comprehensive care.

Expanding Value with Cognitive Assessments

Including cognitive healthcare services within a practice is an opportunity to reach many patient populations in need of these services. For example, with a growing population of elderly patients, primary care physicians (PCPs) are having to prepare to meet the health needs of this demographic. 

A survey found that only 47% of primary care providers regularly test patients 65 years and older for cognitive impairment. These results suggest that there's a lack of awareness among healthcare providers about the benefits of regularly scheduled cognitive assessment, as well as the detriments that can arise without a care plan. 

Cognitive assessments can be useful tools especially in aiding diagnoses and managing conditions such as:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
  • Dementia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • ADHD

For instance, early detection of MCI through cognitive testing can lead to timely interventions that may slow the progression to dementia, as highlighted by recommendations published in the Alzheimer's & Dementia Journal.

Furthermore, standardized computerized assessments, like those provided by Creyos, allow PCPs to screen for various cognitive, psychological, and behavioral health concerns efficiently. This comprehensive approach ensures that patients receive appropriate care and referrals. 

Creyos offers an all-in-one platform for these standardized assessments, enabling primary care providers to provide more comprehensive patient screening. The platform's ease of use and integration into existing workflows make it an attractive option for practices looking to enhance their service offerings and improve patient outcomes.

Use Standardized Mental Health Evaluations

Mental health conditions can be comorbid with a variety of physical and cognitive conditions. So incorporating standardized mental health evaluations into a clinic's service offerings can significantly improve patient care by offering a more whole-person approach

Behavioral and mental health questionnaires and screeners provide a structured way to identify various psychological conditions early, crucial for timely and effective treatment. 

For example, cognitive impairment associated with depression has been detected using assessments designed to measure specific areas of cognition

  • Memory: One study found that depressive symptoms predicted a decline in paired associates learning, verbal reasoning, spatial working memory, and verbal digit span.
  • Verbal Reasoning: In a study evaluating measures of visuospatial episodic memory, executive function, verbal working, and visual working memory, the late-onset depression group scored significantly lower on the verbal reasoning task.

The Creyos library of mental and behavioral questionnaires can serve as a valuable resource for screening mental health concerns. Here are a few examples available in the platform:

  • Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) measures symptoms of depression.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder screener (GAD-7) measures symptoms of anxiety.
  • Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) allows patients to self-report their symptoms of stress.

These assessments are designed to be comprehensive and user-friendly, allowing clinicians to identify potential psychological issues quickly. By utilizing the Creyos Health platform, clinics can ensure that patients receive the appropriate care and referrals, supported by research emphasizing the importance of early detection and intervention in mental health.

FAQs

What factors influence a positive patient experience?

Factors influencing a positive patient experience include organized pre-visit planning, effective communication strategies, and personalized patient care. These aspects contribute to an overall positive experience for the patient.

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