Slide show: Is it time to start your own lab?

March 1, 2009

With the economy in the gutter, businesses closing left and right, and hundreds of thousands of Americans being laid off or losing their jobs, owners of medical practices are starting to worry how the slumping economy will affect their practices short- and long-term.

Key Points

Owners of medical practices must take a long, hard and realistic look at their "businesses" and develop realistic goals on how to make up for the decrease in patients and revenues.

Facts to consider

Many patients will have new coverage with higher deductibles. This means that they will seek medical care carefully and will need your help in meeting their high deductibles.

Many individuals with new jobs won't have any "paid time off" accrued, so your practice may want to consider some evening or weekend hours to accommodate this growing portion of the population.

Because of the job layoffs, job losses and new job scenarios, fewer patients will be seeking cosmetic services. They will be choosing between spending money on cosmetic services or a tank of gas - and may just want to keep their money in the bank for that stormy day that is just around the corner.

Increasing revenue

So, how is your practice going to make up the decrease in patient revenue? Some obvious ideas should have popped into your head as you read the above facts, such as offering some evening or weekend hours to help those employees with no time off.

You also want to make sure your practice offers credit card options for payment of medical services for those patients who need extra time to pay for their services.

Making slides

For many practices, the answer to increased revenue is right there in front of them, and yet they have never thought of it. Why not make your own slides in your office instead of sending them to an outside reference lab?

Many dermatologists read their own slides, but few make their own. Many practices have Mohs surgeons who do Mohs slides, but for their regular pathology, they still send the slides out to be made.

The same is true if your practice has a dermatopathologist on staff. Again, many practices just have the dermatopathologist read the slides while the practice outsources the slide prep to an outside entity.

Medicare Part B allowables

Let's look at this from a reimbursement perspective. Based on the 2009 CMS fee schedule (General U.S.), listed below are the following Medicare Part B allowables:

According to this data, a practice makes 79 percent more money for making the slide than it does for reading it. It is a lot easier to find, hire and train a histotechnician than it is to find and hire a dermatopathologist.

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