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Make More Money By Improving Your FQHC Business Efficiency

Cash flow can be the lifeblood for many medical practices. Without a constant source of revenue, bills don’t get paid and patients can’t be seen. For a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), it’s no different.

FQHCs are community-based primary care medical practices that provide comprehensive health care services for people of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay or health insurance status. They are a critical component of the health care safety-net as they provide primary and preventive care including oral health and mental health/substance abuse services. FQHCs are also called Community Health Centers, Migrant or Homeless Health Centers, and 330-Funded Clinics.

The mission of FQHCs is to enhance primary care services to the underserved in both urban and rural communities.  They operate as non-profit entities under the guidance of a board of directors selected from the community where they operate.  In return for providing care to the underserved and uninsured, FQHCs receive Federal government cash grants, cost-based reimbursements for their Medicaid patients, and malpractice coverage. These practices not only maximize the effect of the federal investment going to local patient care but also expands the impact of the Medicaid and Medicare programs.

Like most businesses in uncertain times, FQHCs may experience financial issues due to the significant supporting role they play in the community. When budgetary resources are strained, it is critical to operate with maximum efficiency to preserve financial security and maintain staffing levels to continue operations. Inefficiency or improper business processes can ultimately result in a loss of services or even closing practices. Maximize your business and staff efficiency to minimize financial risks.

Business effectiveness and efficiency can be improved by making sure you follow these essentials steps.

  1. First Impressions – Design and Basics

The first step incorporates the process of setting the stage – your first impression is always the most lasting. Setting the state begins with the Front Office Desk. Make sure that the people operating your front desk are friendly enough to deal with customers irrespective of their class status or bank balance. The more welcoming you are, the more the patients will feel comfortable and at ease. Why is this important? There will be less hassle collecting the appropriate information that is required to get reimbursements and reduce cycle time.

Moreover, efficiency is the key to success. The more efficient the front desk operations team is at an FQHC, the more practice revenue you can generate. It can also help you facilitate additional patient visits; which mean that if more patients are adjusted and facilitated, you have the potential to make more money. In order to make sure that your team is functioning in an effective manner, the results that you want should be defined in a clear manner.

  1. Hiring the Right Staff and Training Them to Succeed

The right people should be hired and trained to carry out front desk operations as they represent you and your healthcare center to the people who are using your services for their treatment.

The job responsibilities that are given to the front desk staff should be clearly highlighted and identified so that the staff knows their duties in a crystal-clear manner.

While interviewing the staff before hiring them, make sure that they have the capacity to speak and communicate in a clear manner. Employees need to know the ways through which they can explain financial policies to the patients along with the expectations that the center has from them.

Moreover, the staff should have a positive attitude in order to maintain healthy working relationships within the health care center.

The staff should be computer literate so that they can carry out daily operations and tasks in an effective manner. The employee should have some basic knowledge about the patient management system. 

  1. Develop the Right Process for the Health Care Center

To ensure that you make the revenue cycle work best for your FQHC, then the way your center is organized matters the most. To design the right kind of process, there are a few elements that need to be implemented:

  1. Get staff inputbut the buck stops with YOU! – As an executive, you may not always see how things operate at the ground floor. There is always value in listening to your staff because they deal with daily operations in a way that you don’t as executive leadership.  Staff may know ways to gain efficiencies that you may not.  By encouraging staff input, you get their buy-in to make things work the right way, but in the end, it is your responsibility to make sure it all operates smoothly and in a financially sound way. Input is great but the final decision rests with executive leadership.  To effectively manage input, select a few good staff members to serve on a team that helps make improvements.  The team-based approach ensures buy-in but allows for solid decisions in a quick and effective way.
  2. Synergy– All the staff should be on the same page so that whenever the patient has questions, they can be answered in a coherent and reliable manner. This will require ongoing staff communications and training, even on a daily basis, to ensure that this synergy can be achieved. As little as 15 minutes every morning can make a major shift in knowledge, confidence, and cohesion.
  3. Cross-Training– Cross-functional training and knowledge should be implemented to ensure smooth functioning of the health care center. This way, the front desk, the billing department, the clinical providers and everyone will see how their work processes touch other departments and impact or touch every part of the patient journey.
  4. Consistency– Not only should your staff be on the same page in regard to policies, the patients should also be made aware of the policies that are implemented by your health care center. The policies should be reinforced at every visit in order to avoid any confusion later on.
  5. Effective use of Technology – Technology should be used effectively to conduct daily operations within your health care center. The technology to verify demographics should be installed to keep a track of patient’s history.

System notifications should be installed that informs the team of the health center when the patients due for a particular test whenever the patient arrives at your center.

A web portal should also be implemented so that the patients can access the portal in order to check the availability of the slot in which they want to visit the center. Patients who are planning to visit your center for the first time can also complete online new patient forms by providing the necessary demographics. This should reduce any pre-work needed in advance. If these patients are unable to complete any pre-work, make sure they show up at least 15 minutes early and/or you’re verifying their insurance 24 hours in advance.

The technology you implement should be sufficient enough to assist the staff to know how to remind the patients about their upcoming appointments and schedule any follow-up appointments as necessary.

Wrap Up

All the above steps should be followed to ensure you can generate enough money from your Federally Qualified Health Center business operations to enhance patient care. Front Desk operations improvement is the first step towards making a good impression on patients and securing a successful business for your health center. The more welcoming your front desk staff the better your chance is that patients will return to your practice for their services.

Following through with the workflow and business efficiency processes listed above should have your FQHC should be positioned to successfully navigate the business process cycle and secure revenue generation.

Having Trouble Maximizing and Managing Revenue?

If you are having trouble managing your business operations and workflow, then you may have a revenue cycle problem. Visualutions offers a comprehensive package custom-created for each FQHC. Whether you’re looking to simply get back on track or outsource your some of your operations for efficiency, Visualutions has a solution that’s right for you. We can help develop a financially sustainable plan that not only meets the requirements of your organization but place your FQHC in a position to scale in the future for enhanced patient care. Check us out today to learn more!