Exam Lane: EHR VisionWeb's I.O. View [SPONSORED]: Managing Your Practice: Tightening Your Practice's Belt By Staff Tuesday, April 01, 2014 9:00 AM As independent optometrists and practice owners, running your practice isn't just about seeing patients. You're also managing a business. And, as a small business owner, managing your costs is a big part of the job. You probably evaluate your budget and see where you can make adjustments at the end or beginning of the year. We want to take a few minutes to talk about some areas in your practice where you can make adjustments and possibly save a penny or two. Whether it's your budget that needs to be updated to scheduling your staff to marketing efforts to letting your patients help themselves, we've got a few ideas that could help your practice's profits in the long run. Make a Budget and Stick to It Like most businesses, you're probably running your practice off of a pretty tight budget. And, if you've got a few years in the biz under your belt, you've probably come to realize that your budget disappears a lot quicker than you'd expect. Things end up costing twice as much as you'd originally planned, and surprise expenses pop up throughout the year. Whether you have to replace a broken device or instrument, or hire an additional employee, make sure you have some padding in your budget for it. Having a miscellaneous expenses slot in your budget isn't a bad idea. Evaluate the Total Cost of Ownership on Your Purchases If you are thinking about making a big purchase this calendar year, make sure that you take your time to evaluate all of your options. If you plan ahead, you'll have plenty of time to do your research to make sure that you get the most bang for your buck. If you're looking to purchase a new practice management and EHR software, check out this total cost of ownership worksheet. If gives you a chance to stack up the costs of a bunch of different software, all in one place, and see how they compare to one another on cost. It might even make you think about some costs you hadn't considered before! Think About Your Marketing Efforts Since your practice is your business, you probably have some money set aside in your budget for marketing (and if you don't, you should)! Having a marketing budget is going to help you bring in new customers that will help you increase your profits in the long run, so marketing basically pays for itself. Even better yet, there are some "cheap" marketing tactics out there that you might not even be utilizing. Is your practice active on social media? Having social media accounts for your practice won't cost you a penny, except for the man hours it requires to stay active on these accounts. But, social media is a great marketing tool to help you keep in touch with current and future customers. Maximize the Efficiency of Your Staff Salaries and benefits for your staff are going to take up a big chunk of your budget. So make sure that you're managing your staff and their schedules efficiently. We realize this might not be an easy task, and we wouldn't expect you to drastically cut back on any staff hours (unless needed), because keeping your employees happy is equally as important in terms of profit. If your employees aren't happy at work, there's a good chance that your customers might not have a happy experience in your office either. Managing your staff's schedules is a reality of business, and is something that should be taken into consideration when thinking about your budget needs. Help Your Patients Help Themselves Something that you may not have thought of that could help increase your staff's efficiency and save you money in the long run, is giving your patients the opportunity to help themselves before wasting the time of your staff on the phone. What about a patient portal? Patient portals make it easier for patients to log into an online system to better manage their healthcare. They'll be able to do things like see treatment instructions and education materials, complete questionnaires, access medical history, and request appointments without wasting the time of your staff on the phone. However, keep in mind that a patient portal should be synced up to your practice management or EHR system for maximum efficiency – if not, you're just re-keying information from the patient portal to your system. This piece was contributed by the Uprise blog. Uprise is a cloud-based practice management and EHR solution by VisionWeb. View the original post here: Optometric Practice Management: Tightening Your Practice's Belt.