Staying Afloat in Tough Economic Waters Part 2

So, continuing on with my tale of my little business…I left off describing how ExtraMD ( my local locums company) was going to weather these stormy economic times.  I have noticed a drastic drop in shift requests.  Over the past two years, we have typically had 10 shifts per month unfilled, almost enough for a full time physician.  However, over the last 3 months, I have seen a distinct drop, such that by December we only had 2 shifts that went unfilled.

Scary.

Next, an urgent care cancelled a shift, saying they were so far behind in their receivables, they couldn’t afford any more debt.  We haven’t yet received the money owed for work we did there.

Scarier.

In addition, a large clinic system cancelled over 16 shifts for one month, leaving 4 doctors with out work for February.  They emailed me, saying, “Good news for our clinic…we’ve hired a full time physician, so won’t need coverage.”  Bad news for us.  We do have a 30 day cancellation policy, but the clinic squeaked in at 31 days, so didn’t have to pay the full cancellation fee.

Scariest.

So, what will we do?   How will I find work for my  docs, keep my company afloat and sleep at night?

Here’s my plan:

  1. Calm down.
  2. Send out a post card mailing, advertising a birthday discount.  (ExtraMD is turning 5.)  Something cute and eye catching will be on the postcard,  like a birthday cake.
  3. Email our clients, letting them know we have a birthday  celebration discount going on.
  4. Consider taking  birthday cupcakes to our best customers.
  5. Put an ad in the local medical journals.
  6. Talk to the other physicians in our group about leaving business cards and chatting up the business at practices where they are working.  As the physician owner, I have done all the marketing myself, but hey, it’s worth a try.
  7. Create a press release targeting the local market about ExtraMD’s birthday celebration and discount.  Let practices know that we are a  good interim solution during tough times–it’s cheaper to use us than hire another physician, especially if  a practice isn’t certain it can support another full time physician.

I’ll keep you posted as to the results.  How is YOUR practice doing in these tough times?

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Physicians Need to Lead Our Country Through the Health Care Crises

Economic times will absolutely mean  big things for the business of medicine.  The amount of insured patients will go down, and the number of uninsured patients will go up.  So what does that mean to us, the primary care docs in the trenches? How do we shore up our economic coast and continue to see patients, which is what we trained for?  The obvious answer is first, to be prepared.  Decide in advance how much “self pay” your practice can afford and have a way patients can set up a payment plan.  Collect copays when they are due, and be prepared to challenge insurance companies to get paid for the work you do.

The bigger questions is: what can we do about health care in the United States? What solutions do YOU have as to providing care for the uninsured/underinsured?  Are your ready to become a leader?  What education do ALL physicians need to ensure we can deliver the care we all want to give?

I encourage all of you to get active in the political and economic climate we are in!  Stand up and make you voice heard!  We as physicians are uniquely qualified to guide our country in supplying appropriate care to our fellow citizens.