Health Check: Is Your Medical Practice Financially Healthy?

Health Check: Is Your Medical Practice Financially Healthy?

A man getting his health check

Balancing the need to care for others with the imperative of self-care is crucial for maintaining a sustainable and successful healthcare practice. Unfortunately, one of the significant challenges medical professionals face is neglecting their financial health.

With a heavy focus on patient care and clinical expertise, the financial side of running a practice often takes a backseat. Whether you’re a doctor, therapist, audiologist, or medical technologist, you may lack the knowledge and skills to manage your practice’s finances effectively.  However, as you face management complexities, a solid understanding of healthcare accounting becomes crucial for sustainability and long-term success.

Importance of Accounting for Healthcare Practices

Sooner or later, and as you grow your practice, you’re going to have to answer these questions:

  • How can I allocate financial resources effectively to optimize my medical practice’s operations?
  • How do I determine the financial impact and feasibility of purchasing new medical equipment or technology?
  • Should I hire additional staff or outsource certain services?
  • How can I improve billing and collections processes to enhance the revenue cycle?
  • What pricing and fee structure can be adopted to maintain profitability and remain competitive?
  • How do I assess the financial implications and terms of contracts with insurance companies or healthcare payers during negotiations?

Effective healthcare accounting will help you answer these questions, support decision-making, and more. 

For instance, diligently tracking your revenue, expenses, and financial transactions aids in determining which services are financially viable, understanding the impact of pricing decisions, and identifying opportunities for cost savings.

Another aspect of accounting is managing cash flow. You can identify trends and make projections for future financial requirements by analyzing your income and expenses. This allows you to maintain financial stability, plan for periods of lower revenue, and avoid cash flow issues that could impact your ability to care for your patients.

Furthermore, you can identify areas where revenue can be increased, such as optimizing coding and billing processes or renegotiating payer contracts. Additionally, accounting helps you allocate resources effectively, ensuring your practice operates efficiently and avoids unnecessary expenses.

Proper accounting practices help your practice adhere to numerous regulatory requirements and reporting obligations specific to the healthcare industry. By accurately recording and reporting financial information, you not only fulfill your legal and ethical obligations but also avoid penalties or audits. Plus, organized financial records make preparing reports such as tax filings, financial statements, and audits easier when necessary.

Diagnosing Your Financial Health

Just as patients come to you seeking a diagnosis and treatment for their health concerns, it’s essential to apply a similar approach to your medical practice’s financial well-being. Diagnosing your practice’s financial health involves:

Step 1: Financial Performance Analysis

Financial performance analysis involves reviewing your revenue sources, expenses, cash flow patterns, and profitability. You’ll gain a valuable understanding of your practice’s financial workings by examining key financial metrics, such as accounts receivable, revenue per patient, and overhead costs. This analysis is the foundation for understanding where your practice stands financially and where it is heading.

Step 2: Identifying Key Financial Indicators


In addition to overall financial performance, it is crucial to identify and monitor specific financial indicators that can offer valuable insights into your practice’s health. These indicators may include trends in patient visits, payer mix, collection ratios, and accounts receivable aging. By tracking these indicators, you can detect potential issues early on, such as declining reimbursements or an increasing number of unpaid patient balances, and take proactive measures to address them.

At MBE CPAs, we believe in involving our clients in the process. We aim to show you how these key financial indicators can be developed and monitored, empowering you to manage your practice’s finances.

Step 3: Assessing Financial Risks and Opportunities

Diagnosing your practice’s financial health also involves a comprehensive assessment of potential risks and opportunities. This may encompass evaluating the impact of changes in healthcare regulations, assessing payer contracts, and identifying opportunities for revenue growth and cost reduction. By recognizing potential risks and opportunities, you can develop strategies to mitigate risks and capitalize on opportunities to enhance your practice’s financial health.

Step 4: Developing a Financial Improvement Plan

You can outline a financial improvement plan based on the insights gained from diagnosing your practice’s financial health. This plan should detail specific, actionable steps for addressing areas of concern, capitalizing on opportunities, and optimizing your practice’s financial performance. Whether it involves improving billing and collection processes, renegotiating payer contracts, or implementing cost-saving measures, the financial improvement plan is a roadmap for strengthening your practice’s financial health.

Key Considerations in Healthcare Accounting

1, Revenue Cycle Management

Accounting is important in maintaining a steady cash flow and optimizing revenue streams for medical practices.

  • Billing and Claims Management: Through proper accounting practices, medical billing and claims management processes are executed flawlessly, ensuring that clinical services are accurately coded and billed to patients or their insurance providers. This facilitates accurate coding and billing to patients or their insurance providers, minimizing errors and preventing payment delays.
  • Accurate and Timely Patient Invoicing: Invoicing patients accurately and timely is crucial to the revenue cycle. An efficient healthcare accounting system facilitates the timely and precise generation and transmission of invoices. This practice also helps create a positive patient experience and builds a strong reputation for medical practices.
  • Payment Posting and Reconciliation: Accounting helps maintain accurate records of payments received and posted to the correct patient accounts. This financial information should be reconciled with billing records. 
  • Denial and Appeal Management: In the healthcare industry, some claims may not be paid for various reasons, such as coding errors, missing documents, or other inaccuracies. Effective denial and appeal management practices help account for all services provided and facilitate the payment of claims.
  • Analysis and Reporting: By tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as the average days to pay, collection rates, accounts receivable, and net collection rates, you can identify areas of improvement and optimize revenue generation. 

2. HIPAA Compliance

HIPAA-compliant accounting is a critical requirement for financial management in the healthcare industry, as it is adhering to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

HIPAA Compliance

These measures encompass physical, technical, and administrative safeguards that address patient information storage, access, and transmission. While it is essential to secure patient charts and medical documents, accounting records also fall under the umbrella of protected data.
Thus, accounting systems in healthcare settings must implement stringent security measures to protect against unauthorized access to and disclosure of patient data.

3. Reimbursement Models

Reimbursement models determine how healthcare providers receive payment for services rendered. Depending on the payment model, accounting is instrumental to accurate and timely revenue recognition.
In a fee-for-service reimbursement model, providers are paid based on patient service. As such, it’s essential to document and accurately code the services provided for proper billing and reimbursement. You must also closely monitor and analyze claims data to identify trends, improve billing accuracy, and optimize revenue capture. 
Meanwhile, value-based care reimbursement methodologies focus on rewarding healthcare providers based on outcomes and quality of care. Thus, you must analyze and report data related to quality measures and patient outcomes. By tracking and analyzing this data, you can gauge performance, evaluate reimbursement levels, and assess the financial impact of value-based care programs.
Lastly, in capitation, providers receive a fixed monthly payment per patient under their care, regardless of the actual services rendered. Under this model, it’s vital to accurately calculate and report the capitated payments received and make sure they align with the number of enrolled patients. Moreover, you need to monitor the costs associated with each patient to confirm that the capitated payments cover the expenses incurred. 

4. Payer Contracts and Negotiations

As pointed out by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), payer relations are among the daunting concerns of healthcare providers. Payers have become more discerning regarding contract negotiations and rates, posing a challenge for providers. Moreover, providers must grapple with the competition from payers who have established ambulatory and specialty care service lines.

Amid these concerns, healthcare accounting professionals can bring their expertise in analyzing contracts and assessing their financial impact on the organization. Accounting experts offer insights into profitability, provide support during negotiations, establish appropriate rates, and forecast revenue. By leveraging their knowledge and skills, you can make informed decisions, optimize revenue, and cultivate positive relationships with payers.

Here’s Your Prescription: Keep Your Financial Health in Check

Every aspect of healthcare finance requires meticulous attention to detail, from determining reimbursement rates to managing revenue cycles. With a strong grasp of healthcare accounting principles, organizations can make informed decisions, maintain compliance, and drive sustainable growth.

Financial Health in Check

To achieve financial wellness, you must take proactive steps in your accounting practices. This includes implementing robust financial processes, utilizing advanced technology systems, and fostering a culture of financial transparency. By continuously monitoring and analyzing financial data, you can identify bottlenecks, optimize revenue streams, and make data-driven decisions.

If your healthcare organization struggles with accounting intricacies, it may be time to seek professional assistance. With their industry experience and expertise, MBE CPAs offers solutions to your organization’s specific financial needs. 

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