Five Ancillary Services to Increase Revenue at Your Medical Practice
When choosing a new ancillary service to offer, it is crucial to select one that suits your specific practice. New and varied health care services can be a great way to increase gross revenue and nurture business without expanding overhead. It’s simple – invest the time to research and implement options for your practice and reap the benefits for both your business and your patients.
According to Medscape’s 2014 Physician Compensation Report, the recent introduction of ancillary services increased slightly last year, but still only averages about 21 percent. At the top of the list, one third of orthopedists offer additional services, which can include in-office surgical centers with pain centers, MRI and physical therapy. Other specialties starting new services included Family Medicine (23 percent), Internal Medicine (20 percent), Dermatology (20 percent), OB/Gyn (19 percent), and Pediatrics (18 percent). The specialties offered included medication dispensing, weight-loss services, in-office diagnostic tests, nutrition counseling, cosmetic services and more. The report also noted that some primary care practices might be able to earn as much as 15 percent or more from these services.
First, look at your market demographics – age, income, education and inclinations – and make decisions on additional services based on what your client base needs. Then, consider all the services you are referring your patients to other providers, and decide what you may be able to keep in-house. Think creatively and find your practice’s natural fit.
Next, check for possible legal conflicts at the local, state and national levels. Ensure what you are planning is appropriate and compliant with both local, state and federal regulations, to include your state medical board, or other state healthcare related boards having authority over your potential new service. The physician self-referral law and the federal anti-kickback statute, for example, certainly necessitate consideration. Ensuring compliance on the front end of developing a new service should mean the avoidance of penalties later on.
Five Ancillary Services
Let’s take a look at a few of the services you may want to consider adding to your practice.
One in five Americans has environmental or food allergies and many are not aware of the condition, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Identifying allergies in patients through testing and providing immunotherapy that targets the underlying condition can be vital to the health and happiness of your patients. Primary care physicians may want to consider this service; however, it is important to consider the pros and cons before making an investment. A pro may be that you are appealing to a ready-made patient base who would rather see you than an allergist. Conversely, a con may be that starting this service could alienate you from the local allergists.
Start-Up Costs: Minimal, if you contract with an allergy vendor
Potential Income: $70,000 – $120,000 per year
Med Spa / Cosmetic Services
Med Spa services include injectables, such as Botox ®, cosmetic products, laser hair removal, dermal microdermabrasion, acupuncture, massages, etc. This is a competitive field, but there is a definite potential to create a cash-paying niche with your patients. Primary care physicians and OB/Gyn physicians may benefit from adding these services. The primary pro is that these services are cash-paying since insurance doesn’t cover most of them. The con is that these services are very competitive.
Start-Up Costs: Fairly low without the cost of lasers
Potential Income: $50,000 – $100,000 per year
PT services are ideal for any practice with elderly, disabled or younger patients with sports injuries. They can also be beneficial if a large percentage of your client base struggles with osteoporosis and joint pain. If after a bit of research you find your practice is currently sending a large number of patients to outside PT facilities, this may be worth the investment. Some states require a permit to operate as a physical therapist. Any practice that has a significant elderly population, or an active patient base who are involved with sports could benefit from these services. The pros are the cost of equipment is relatively low and reimbursement for these services can generate a significant amount of revenue. The cons are that you may need acquire additional office space for these services and hiring staff trained in physical therapy.
Start-Up Costs: $25,000 for equipment, plus the cost of extra space
Potential Income: About $500,000 per year
Only a small fraction of the tests that practices need are CLIA-waived. By graduating to administering moderately complex laboratory tests, practices can capture much more test volume to process in-house. The extra laboratory equipment can be quite expensive, though, so be sure to determine whether your practice can earn enough money to make it worthwhile. Primary care physicians may want to consider adding these services. The pro is the convenience for your patients. The cons are the cost of equipment, obtaining the appropriate accreditation, and hiring a phlebotomist.
Start-Up Costs: $50,000 for one practice
Potential Income: About $400,000 per year
Weight-Loss / Nutrition Programs
With more than two thirds of U.S. adults overweight and more than one third obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every practice can utilize a nutrition program. Weight loss can be critical to maintaining the health and wellness of your patients and the start of cost for a program of this nature would be miniscule. Almost any specialty could add these services to their practice. The pros are startup costs are relatively low, and you probably have patients that could benefit from these services. The con is that reimbursement could be relatively low.
Start-Up Costs: Minimal
Potential Income: $30,000-$50,000 per year in net revenue
Ancillary services are a great way to resonate with your existing patient base and appeal to new clients. Practice management can be another tool to increase revenue by outsourcing some of the more time-intensive aspects of medicinal administration.