Words of wisdom for a harmonious operation

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands-When four leading practice management specialists met as a panel recently, the pearls of wisdom they shared encouraged ophthalmologists to be aware of vital aspects of their business, including finances, human resources, and legal issues. The session, titled "Business, Operation, and Legal Pearls," provided physicians and administrators with suggestions on how ophthalmologists can increase efficiency, maximize profit, and avoid pitfalls leading to liability.

On financial issues

Knowing your financial situation is key, according to Michael Brown, CHBC. Brown, president of Health Care Economics LLC, gave pearls for financial success.

He advised physicians to think about how many full-time employees they need versus how many they have, reminding that expenditures should be between 18% and 22%. "Use the data available in ophthalmology to benchmark, compare yourself to the competition, set goals, and track them," said Brown.

Practice overhead, both fixed costs (rent/lease, equipment, salaries) and variable costs (billing/collection services, disposable supplies, paper supplies), should be examined. "The key is that you need to know what these numbers are," Brown said.

On HR issues

Joe Carroll, president and chief executive officer of Advantage Administration Inc., presented pearls regarding human resources (HR), citing that between 18% and 30% of costs at a practice will relate to HR. Carroll first recommended taking an introspective look at improving your staff. "Examine your current situation. Identify goals; establish standards; reward those standards," he said.

His pearls for HR were:

"You'll have fewer, better people and less turnover. The bottom line is that you'll have happier employees," said Carroll.

Carroll added, "Doctors must be fully engaged."

On legal issues

Alan Reider, an attorney with the law firm Arent Fox PLLC, shared legal pearls for ophthalmologists.