A practice with seven physicians was having financial issues—two of the physicians were in the top quartile financially, but the other five were performing below the average. Those five had an amount of uncollected revenue for their accounts that was $1.2 million more than the two doctors in the top quartile, a big number for a group this size.
Explore This IssueNovember 2021
These accounts receivable affected the whole practice because of the shared overhead costs that were used to generate this uncollected revenue, said James Benson, MS, president and founder of QM2 Solutions, a medical consulting firm hired to help the practice. He discussed the case in a session at the 2021 American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Annual Meeting.
What was going on? Mr. Benson said his firm looked at the practice’s online reputation and found that its Google scores were less than four out of five stars, a score that many potential patients would find unacceptable. That translated into a bottom-line hit, he said. Every new patient would bring a lifetime value of $900, and, “based on their market environment, they were losing about 15% of their potential patients as a result of their low ratings,” Mr. Benson said. “This practice was being strangled by a poor reputation.”
Experts in the session said there was no getting around it: Physicians must cultivate a winning online reputation to be successful. They said creating a great experience for the patient is the bedrock of that reputation, but promotion and regular attention is critical too. Online ratings are often seen as more important than where a physician went to medical school or did their residency, and many patients are willing to venture out of their insurance network to go to a doctor with more favorable reviews.
Improving an online reputation involves asking patients and stakeholders what they’re really thinking, refining what needs work, and leveraging what you do well so that people know about it.
“The bottom line is that poor patient experience decreases your payments and increases your risk, while great patient experience improves your revenue and decreases the likelihood that you’re going to be sued,” Mr. Benson said. “It’s that simple.”
Branding Your Practice
Angela Sturm, MD, a facial plastic surgeon in the Houston area, puts her brand and her patient stories just about everywhere, including YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram. She thought carefully about the image she wanted for her practice: modern, welcoming, and patient-centered.