Orthopedic surgeons are among the most specialized in the medical space. While you work extremely hard to make a comfortable living for yourself and your family, could you make your practice (and your life) more profitable?
Growing an orthopedic practice can be difficult, but with a little hard work and some elbow grease, we’ve seen how it’s possible.
Here are some of our top tips for squeezing the most value out of your practice sans burnout.
#1: Get Paid More For The (Amazing) Work You Do
It’s essential to get paid what you’re worth, and we believe orthopedic surgeons can do that in several ways.
First, review your employment agreement and compensation structure. Do you know not only what you’re getting paid but how? Are you switching practices and want to negotiate a new contract? Are you buying into a surgery center and want to set up the most lucrative financing from the start?
Be sure to look at contract negotiation comprehensively, but before you sit down with a potential employer, determine what’s most important to you. Pare down to must-haves, want-to-haves, and nice-to-haves (but could live without). You can consider things like:
- Total pay
- Bonus structure
- Additional pay
- Work/life balance
- Student loan assistance
Secondly, triple-check your records and ensure the proper Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes are associated with your cases to streamline reporting and increase accuracy.
We understand that this gets in the weeds and can be a little tiresome, but it can have powerful compensation implications. You can’t change what the Centers for Medicare & Medical Services (CMS) deems appropriate for fees, but you can control how your business tracks and codes your services.
Incorrect CPT codes can cause your reimbursements to get delayed, denied, or only partially paid, and it could mean that you could get credited fewer RVUs. If you want to avoid a massive headache, mounds of paperwork, and lost revenue for your orthopedic practice, we recommend not skipping this step.
#2: Concentrate Energy On Attracting More Ideal Patients
You know the type of cases you work best in, so find more of them! To attract more ideal patients, you need to know everything about them, like:
- Who are those people?
- What is their health history?
- What steps do you need/want them to take before landing on your desk?
- What type of insurance do they have (or not have)?
Knowing your target patients is all about the nitty-gritty details. Once you get specific on the type of people you serve best, you can focus your efforts on attracting them.
Another way to attract patients is to network with COIs, like physical therapists, family physicians, and more, to get on a referral list. A referral list shows just how trustworthy your practice is and can be a valuable tool for attracting new patients!
Above all, patient loyalty is key to growing a profitable orthopedic practice. If a patient has had a great experience with you, felt you met their needs, and that their health was your top priority, then that patient is more likely to tell their friends and family about their fantastic experience. Consider how profitable it would be if a patient referred 1, 2, or 10 people to your practice.
On the other hand, a negative patient experience can lead to a poor online or word-of-mouth review, and it can be challenging to navigate. While you likely can’t please everyone, you can prioritize patient communication and connection.
Follow Your Passion, Who Knows What May Happen: A Case Study
The Vestia team had the opportunity to work with a surgeon to identify a specific subspecialty he enjoyed and was efficient at. Unfortunately, his practice wouldn’t allow him to focus solely on the subspecialty because the patient need wasn’t there to support his efforts.
Instead of giving up, we helped connect him with a consultant, and together, we discovered that most of these procedures were being provided to 1 large publicly traded company with its headquarters in town.
They created a business plan to provide fee for service agreement with this employer and now offers a very narrow set of procedures for a pre-negotiated price exclusively for this corporation.
Moral of the story? If you know what you’re good at, fight for it!
#3: Don’t Forget Flexibility
As an orthopedic surgeon, flexibility is part of your job—literally. And since you know so much about it, it’s time to take those skills out of the operating room and into your life.
Far too often, specialists like orthos prioritize the practice and their work over themselves. It’s so easy to get caught in a never-ending cycle of putting patients ahead of your well-being. But taking vacations and meaningful time away from work can be more profitable than you think.
If you push yourself to the point of burnout, you may leave the profession earlier than you initially intended, which can have financial consequences. Burnout can also take the joy and passion out of your work and stop you from pushing yourself and pioneering new techniques that help your career and future patients.
Taking time off work can be so impactful that scientists have studied its effects. Alertness solutions researchers found that a vacation can increase performance by 80%. This is why we talk so much about work/life balance and creating Wealth that Matters. Working yourself to the ground may seem like the only way to stay ahead, but a couple of trips to Europe or extended time away with your family might be a better idea.
Time, Money, and a Happy Marriage: A Case Study
Our team worked with a spine surgeon that was a solo practice and ran a staff of about 10 people. He knew he needed help but was resistant to hiring an advanced provider for fear of losing money.
After reviewing his production compared to his take-home pay, we found that he spent many hours on low-revenue activities like charting, dictation, and patient intake. These activities resulted in dozens of extra work hours each week, which unfortunately took precious time away from his family.
We showed him by absorbing an additional $200k in salaries for a nurse practitioner and scribe, he could take on an additional 3-4 cases per week and still save himself time. His wife was forever grateful for this change and claimed it had a tremendous impact on their marriage.
Create Wealth That Matters
Money should mean something—more than just numbers in a bank account or paying bills. It’s about the choices, opportunities, and freedom that come from a discipline strategy. That’s why one of our driving goals is to help physicians create wealth that matters.
Your wealth can be more than just money. It’s a tool to help you retire early, travel the world, build your dream house, or put your kids through college.
Knowing your financial goals can also help you understand how many patients you need to build your ideal practice—time, money, life, etc. When you have a financial plan built on meaning, values, and goals, you put yourself in a better position to succeed.
If your goal is to build a more profitable orthopedic practice this year, let’s talk.
Investment advisory services offered through Vestia Personal Wealth Advisors, Vestia Retirement Plan Consultants, and Vestia Advisors, LLC. Securities offered through Ausdal Financial Partners, Inc., 5187 Utica Ridge Rd, Davenport, IA. 52807 (563)326-2064. Member FINRA/SIPC. Vestia Personal Wealth Advisors, Vestia Retirement Plan Consultants, Vestia Advisors, LLC, and Ausdal Financial Partners, Inc. are independently owned and operated.
This material is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal or tax advice and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified attorney or tax advisor. This information is not an offer or a solicitation to buy or sell securities. The information contained may have been compiled from third-party sources and is believed to be reliable. All investing involves risk, including the loss of principal.