Practice in crisis mode: skilfully managing imminent imbalances

Practice in crisis mode: skilfully managing imminent imbalances

Corona crisis, personnel crisis, energy crisis: one challenge follows the next. And sometimes all you want to do is crawl away: hear no more, see no more, participate no more.

But burying your head in the sand simply won't help now. Constructive approaches are needed to help practicing dentists become self-efficacious in order to cope with the many crises they face.

The right mindset is crucial. It is precisely the perceived loss of control – the feeling that we no longer have anything in our own hands – that causes us to fall into a kind of shock paralysis in which we feel at the mercy of multiple crises. Regain your self-efficacy with commitment and open-mindedness!

Even small actions and measures can help regain control over practice development. We would like to point out a few levers for the alleviation and averting of practice imbalances here.

1. Identify unused revenue potentials

Economic stability is the cornerstone for dental practices and dental care centers (DMCs) to successfully maneuver through the crisis. A quick and very effective instrument to (re)gain business security is the potential analysis.

Especially in times of crisis, it helps dentists in private practice to make the right decisions. It reveals which measures can be used to counteract the crisis and helps to create a solid long-term basis for the profitability of the practice and the Z-MVZ.

The potential analysis identifies optimization and development opportunities.

Whether it is billing potential that has not yet been fully exploited, practice processes that can be made more cost-efficient, management techniques that increase the productivity of practice staff, or the targeted use of financial resources to develop the practice forward and secure liquidity in the long term: an analysis of potential creates business clarity and identifies levers for increasing practice performance.

She shows in which practice areas there is room for optimization and which strategic decisions should be made to keep the dental practice or the Z-MVZ on the road to success even in difficult times.

2. Take the lead in a crisis

Employees are also very concerned at the moment: how will the practice deal with the (impending) staff shortage in the future? What impact will the economic situation have on the workplace or. Have the income? And how are private heating and electricity costs to be met on current salaries?

While you in the management try to keep an overview of the incoming challenges and keep them under control, practice employees are often left uninformed and unsettled. This harbors dangers. Because if information about the situation of your practice is not handled and communicated openly, it fuels speculation and increases uncertainty. Increasing sick leave and resignations can be the result.

Transparency and empathy strengthen your practice team

In light of the threatening shortage of healthcare personnel, it is prudent for all practice owners to strengthen their team and keep it together. With all the uncertainty you feel yourself, leadership is needed now!

By explaining emphatically and factually how you plan to deal with the crises, you ensure clarity in your practice team. Continuously passing on information about what's going on builds trust and, in the best case, reassurance:

  • Explain the current situation in regular team meetings and point out required measures!
  • Invite your employees to ask questions and answer them openly and honestly!
  • Take your time and have an open ear for individual discussions!
  • Appreciate the dedication of your workforce! Thank them for their previous commitment and trust and show understanding for fears and concerns!

Inflation compensation premium supports and retains employees

As part of the third relief package to mitigate rapidly rising costs, the German government is granting employers tax-free bonus payments for their employees. Practice owners who are economically able to do so can use this instrument to help their employees financially, provide security and thus also strengthen their ties to the company.

By paying out an inflation premium, you show that you are aware of the concerns of your workforce and are endeavoring to protect not only your company but also the private households of your employees from the serious consequences of the crisis.

Up to 3.000 € can be paid out by practices and medical care centers to their employees tax-free and without social security contributions. One-off or piecemeal, the inflation bonus can be paid up to 31.12.2024 be transferred in addition to the normal salary.

3. Advise your patients in a targeted manner

Uncertainty about the effects of the war in Ukraine, the development of inflation and Germany's economic situation runs right through society. Consequence: Purchasing power declines. People keep their money together.

And so it happens more and more often that even approved treatment and cost plans are not implemented in the dental practice because patients would rather save the co-payment at the moment.

For dental practices, this can result in a considerable loss of income. That's why an educational and consultative conversation with patients is once again relevant now.

  • Make it clear that the HKP (cure and cost plan) loses its validity after six months at the latest! With the current price development it is not to be assured that a new estimate can be made after the expiration of this period at the same conditions.
  • Point out the existing hardship policy to your patients! Those with low incomes can receive up to 100 percent co-payment for basic dental prostheses from the statutory health insurance fund. This special health insurance subsidy must be applied for separately by the patient.
  • Recommend that your patients take out supplementary dental insurance! It is important to note that the insurer's payment refers to the private invoice amount, not only to the part that is subsidized by the health insurance company.

Patients with supplementary dental insurance not only guarantee regular visits to the practice and thus reliable income. You also have significantly more room to maneuver in terms of dental treatments and show greater breadth to provide higher quality care financially.

4. Create a transparent risk early warning system

Early recognition of liquidity bottlenecks is elementary for practice owners, especially in economically difficult times. Once insolvency is imminent, it is often difficult to avert insolvency proceedings.

To prevent this from happening in the first place, tax and business consultants recommend rolling liquidity planning.

Now obligatory for limited liability companies, rolling – i.e. continuous – liquidity planning also offers other legal forms of business the possibility of restructuring with the help of the StaRUG procedure established in 2021 and thus averting possible insolvency.

Carefully prepared liquidity plans provide practice owners with detailed representations and analyses of their ability to pay. Managing directors are thus in a position to assess at any time whether they will be able to meet their payment obligations, or whether insolvency is likely or. Direct threat.

Conducted at appropriate intervals, rolling cash flow planning ensures availability, visibility, and forecasting of financial needs to make payments on time on an ongoing basis.

From a certain practice size, "clean" financial and liquidity planning is essential in order to be able to successfully manage the healthcare company in the long term.

5. Strengthen your crisis resilience

Dentists in private practice who face uncertain times like these with determination and drive not only strengthen their personal resilience, they also improve their quality of life. They also create the necessary entrepreneurial flexibility in their practices and dental care centers to be able to react appropriately to changes in the markets.

Management can do a lot to increase the crisis resilience of your healthcare organization. With clear leadership, forward-looking action, risk early warning systems and targeted investments, current and future practice crises can be effectively addressed and overcome.

Jonas Kock

Kock + Voeste livelihood insurance for the medical professions GmbH
As a specialist consultant for outpatient healthcare, I have been managing the business of Kock + Voeste GmbH since 2018. Our management consultancy for physicians and dentists has been accompanying and advising practice owners and MVZ management in organizational, strategic and business management issues of practice management for more than 30 years.
As a trained business economist, systemic coach and health care specialist, I support medical practitioners throughout Germany in organizational development and practice optimization.

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