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August 17, 2011

Why every physician needs a CPA and healthcare consultant

During my years in consulting, I have found that the successful medical practices out there are the ones that surround themselves with excellent advisors. Not only do they surround themselves with excellent advisors, they utilize them at every turn. I think it’s important to have people on the outside looking in, willing to offer advice when needed. I have never seen the “perfect” medical practice – it does not exist. Why? Because we are human and as humans, we make mistakes - It’s not a perfect world we live and practice in. However by surrounding yourself with a solid team of advisors, I think you can minimize these mistakes and maintain a healthy bottom line. 

Every medical practice has a variety of specialized team members that handle patient intake, billing, collections, office management, and, of course, the delivery of the actual medical care itself. In the best medical practices this system is continually refined and each member is carefully selected and trained to ensure that the practice runs as safely and efficiently as possible. 

What many physicians and practice managers often overlook however is the importance of the “outside” staff that supports the operations of the medical business. These outside professionals are just as vital to the success of a practice as any internal employee and must be chosen with the same degree of care. In my last post, I talked about the need for an insurance agent and financial planner. A physician also needs a CPA and healthcare consultant as key outside advisors you should surround yourself with: 

CPA  Some will disagree but there is not much separating “tax preparers” these days. Any CPA worth their salt can prepare a good tax return. They should – it’s their job! This is a necessary skill set but in today’s economic conditions and reimbursement rates, you require more. You need a real “tax planner” — someone who is BOTH technically proficient at the paperwork and who is proactive about spotting and suggesting ways for you to pay the minimum amount legally possible. Which category does your current CPA fall into? Make sure they are working as hard to save you money as you worked to earn it. 

Healthcare consultant  If your CPA does not already provide healthcare consulting services, then seek to engage such a person. What can an outside consultant do for you? First, this person acts as a resource to your practice. This person can advise you and your team on any area/issue related to daily practice management. Working in unison, there should be no practice problem that can’t be addressed and resolved. A consultant can be that set of eyes from the outside looking in to the practice. This kind of oversight is vital in today’s ever changing marketplace. Finally, working together, you and the consultant can strategize and implement ideas that will increase your bottom line. Remember there is only one financial benchmark that should matter to you – did I make more money this year than last year?

These advisors form the absolute core of any well-crafted external support team. My advice is to use them. These people are not “overhead,” but an investment in your practice. Engaging a successful team of outside advisors will make you money in the long run.

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