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Patient Mix: Help Yourself So You Can Help Others

“Put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others.”

If you’ve flown more than twice in your life, there’s a good chance you now tune out the flight attendant’s animated spiel about what to do in the “unlikely event” of a crash-landing. However, if you’re paying attention, you’ll hear this preflight cautionary guidance about oxygen masks every time you board a commercial flight. 

Putting your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others makes complete sense, right? Because, if you run out of oxygen before your kid does, you won’t be able to help your kid — or anyone else — survive an adverse situation.

So, why are we suddenly giving you precautionary instructions about flying? It’s simple: Taking care of yourself before you’re in a position to help someone else is a lot like balancing your payer mix (aka, patient mix) at your healthcare practice. 

Here’s another way to look at it: You spend the same amount of time and effort treating patients, but don’t get paid the same amount from the many different insurance plans patients have.

As a provider at a healthcare facility of any size or specialty, if you’ve shied away from talking about the elephant in the room, it’s time to address it. Read on to learn why you should be talking about patient mix for the health and well-being of your practice and those seated around you who need your services. 

Patient mix is NOT a swear word

If you’ve been following along with some of our recent blogs about payer mix, you know we’re not afraid to call this elephant out. We are unapologetic about helping you understand why the right patient mix is vital to your healthcare organization. 

In case you missed it, here’s the main idea: It’s essential to balance the number of patients in your healthcare organization who pay with commercial insurance, cash, or government agency plans, like Medicare and Medicaid. If your patient mix isn’t balanced, your bottom line will suffer the consequences.

Why is your patient mix so important? 

If your payer mix is swayed too far in the Medicare/Medicaid bracket, for example, you’ve probably noticed there isn’t much budget to go around in the form of raises or updates to equipment or facilities, even though you’re seeing tons of patients.  Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) often deal with this scenario.  

As we discussed in our other payer mix blogs, regardless of how much time you spend on patient care, some types of insurance plans require a whole lot of effort from your staff to collect money that’s owed to your providers. These plans take forever to reimburse your business. When you have too many low-paying payments that are difficult to collect, your bottom line won’t reflect the volume of patients you’re treating each week. 

To put it bluntly, if your patient mix is off-balance, then a high patient volume doesn’t necessarily equal a healthy practice income! 

Help yourself so you can help others

If your current patient growth plan is to get as many new patients as possible in the door of your practice, regardless of how they will pay their medical bills, you’re not helping yourself in a way that allows you to help others in the long run. From an altruistic healthcare perspective, if you’re not receiving enough money from paying clients with private insurance plans (which typically pay more than government health plans), then how can you help more at-risk patient populations?

Are you beginning to see the connection here about securing your own oxygen mask?

Change your approach to new business and patient mix

Here’s the good news: With a few simple marketing strategies to better balance your patient mix, you’ll notice a shift in revenue that better reflects the care you’re providing. One marketing strategy is as easy as adding information to your website to say something like, “Now welcoming new patients with XYZ insurance plans!” That way, patients who are shopping online for new providers — who also happen to have insurance plans that pay the most for your particular services — will clearly see that you’re excited to schedule their appointments. 

And since nearly everyone begins their search for a new healthcare provider online, another marketing strategy you should consider when balancing your patient mix is using a predictive targeting tool. A good predictive targeting tool, like the one we offer at SocialClimb, helps you identify the most profitable prospective patients in your area, so you know how and where to spend your marketing dollars. Not only will you be attracting more high-value patients with insurance plans that pay, but you’ll also be spending your marketing budget more wisely. 

This is the essence of what we mean by helping yourself so you can help others. As you begin to acquire a higher volume of your ideal patients, the revenue they generate will empower you to expand the care you provide to better treat underserved patients.

Before you decide to invest in a paid ad that says, “Come one, come all!”, review your patient mix. How accurately does your bottom line reflect the time, effort, and expertise you offer on a daily basis? If something’s not right, consider circling the tower one more time on your final approach, so you can reassess the situation and plan for the best outcome — one where no oxygen masks are needed. 

Let’s talk. Get in touch with SocialClimb today to see how you can improve your payer mix, boost your online reputation, and get the most bang for your marketing budget.

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