~by Dixie Somers~
Small medical businesses have different challenges to overcome in comparison to larger health networks. In addition to providing quality care, they must overcome the kind of problems that small businesses face when competing with large companies.
Here is a look at some of the common issues that these providers deal with, along with some creative solutions.
Insurance can be a tricky thing to deal with when you are a health care provider. Typically, there is a trade-off when it comes to working with an insurance company. You are more likely to get customers, but you end up making less money from in-network patients due to the network deals that are made. Large health care companies compensate for this by playing the volume game. They see a lot of patients every day. Small companies can offer extra time with individual patients. Instead of a five- to 15-minute checkup that touches just on the absolute basics of health, patients are given 30 minutes to an hour to discuss their overall wellness and devise strategies to make it better. This also gives the doctor a better idea of a normal health baseline in their patients. This can translate into earlier diagnoses when serious diseases appear. These boutique doctors can often charge a bit more for this service, and their clients are grateful for the extra time and willing to pay for it.
To provide adequate medical care, health care providers must have access to lab services. Blood tests, X-rays, and mammograms are just some of the services that are needed to give a diagnosis. Doctors must be able to provide these tests by either contracting with individual labs or by providing the staff and equipment themselves. Both can be complicated. Some groups of individual medical providers will cluster into medical parks to try and simplify this for patients. They remain independent businesses, but the distance between the doctor and the phlebotomist may be the same number of steps away as it would be inside a hospital.
The disposal of medical waste can be complicated and expensive. Many of the items that come from a doctor or dentist are considered to be bio-hazard waste. As such, it requires special disposal services, and legal, safe removal comes with associated fees. There are some ways to recoup some of these costs, however. One innovative way to do this is to work with a service to refine dental scrap. Dentists can use these services to get profit returned to them from old fillings that are removed. Many of these fillings are made from precious metals like gold, palladium, and silver. These materials can be extracted, sanitized and melted down to return a profit to the dentist.
Network health systems are able to offer a cornucopia of doctors with the benefit of receiving a single bill. They also allow you to enter all of your patient data one time only, regardless of specialty. This convenience can be difficult for small health practices to compete with. Because of this, many small medical practices don’t try. They focus instead on the things that can only be found in small practices. Their offices may look homey instead of clinical. The receptionists know your name and remember the names of your pets and children. They sponsor local little league and other sports, and then attend the games. This kind of connection is sorely missed by a large number of people, and it can be a highly successful strategy for small medical practices.
While big business has a lot to offer, there are a lot of ways in which small practices can do extremely well in a competitive marketplace. By being creative, resourceful, and patient and community focused, smaller health practices can carve out a boutique marketplace that offers consumers a great way to feel that their health needs are well cared for.
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer who loves writing for business, finance, and those with an entrepreneurial spirit. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.