“Retina … it’s its own little world,” mused a retina practice administrator I chatted with at a conference recently. “I’ve been managing practices for 25 years, and running a retina practice for the last seven years,” she continued. “Sometimes I still feel brand new to the sub-specialty because there’s always something new to master.” One of those “new” things might be an upgrade to your inventory control procedures.
More than a Spreadsheet
Is your practice still using an Excel sheet to track your drug inventory? If so, it’s time to upgrade to an automated logging system, says Packer, not only for patient safety, but also to safeguard your practice from embezzlement (https://eyecareleaders.com/how-to-protect-your-eye-care-practice-from-embezzlers/) and protect your bottom line.
If you’re not using an automated logging system, chances are you’re not collecting all the reimbursement you deserve. Compare the cost of drugs with reimbursements at least quarterly to make sure that your payers are keeping pace with any price increases.
But technology and analysis alone aren’t enough. You must train and coach employees to create a disciplined drug inventory culture at your retina practice. Experts share these practical tips.
Slash Your Retina Practice’s Supply Costs: 7 Tips to Help
- Pick your most detail-oriented tech to lead inventory control, Joanne Mansour, practice administrator at The Virginia Retina Center, told AAO 2017 attendees. At her practice, all the techs email their drug counts to the inventory lead every day.
- Make sure your drug inventory policies have teeth. If an injection isn’t reported properly, the employee should get written up—even if it’s only a $17 Avastin, billing consultant Luretta Greeley, OCS told AAO attendees.
- Insist on quality. For example, if the drug company sends you a barbed needle, take a picture and insist on getting your money back, Greeley urged.
- Do a fridge count every day, advised Mansour.
- Don’t forget the PAP vials at your practice. You don’t want to lose track of expiration dates or create an opportunity for petty thievery amidst your patient assistance program supply.
- At the end of every month, at least two people should review drug inventory reports. That ensures a system of checks and balances. In addition to the practice administrator, you might pick the tech on your team who won’t tolerate anything fishy and who’s not afraid to speak up should she see a red flag. Or, you might pick an ace from your RCM team who is good at spotting billing problems.
- If patient decides not to change treatment plans due to cost of the drug, make sure the risk/benefits conversation and the choice are documented in medical record, advises Tricia Packer, CPC, CPMA, COPC, OCS, who serves on ECL’s practice optimization team and who previously administered a retina practice in North Carolina.