By Guest Blogger Becky Hopfinger, FNP-C
As we have heard so many times in the past few months, we are going through unprecedented times with COVID-19. The healthcare model has significantly changed with the pandemic and there is no sign of fully going back to the way that things once were. We are now utilizing different avenues to provide care to our patients, and healthcare itself has completely transformed. As nurse practitioners and physician assistants this can be a change that makes or breaks us. Either we prove ourselves absolutely valuable and essential or we get furloughed, or even worse, laid off.
The term ‘value’ in healthcare has become such a buzz word over the past few years. What is value in regards to the care we give? How can we be more valuable? Simply said, value is getting the most bang for your buck, or quality/cost. It is providing great, quality care while costing the institution less, or having less overhead. Advanced Practice Providers have the ability to truly be valuable to any institution or organization. We are not as pricey as our physician counterparts, yet we can generate a similar revenue stream to our clinics. Now, more than ever, we need to prove our value to the healthcare world. Here are a few ways to increase our value as providers and stave off the dreaded furlough.
- Become an expert in one specific area.
If you are working in a primary care setting, consider becoming the local expert in one disease process that you see frequently in your clinic, such as hypertension, headaches, diabetes or depression. Gather as much information as you can, update yourself on the latest research, and discuss your findings with your colleagues. Become a ‘disease-ologist’ in a specific area; really understand the ins and outs of a common problem in your community. Be the ‘go-to’ provider in one area that everyone relies on for the best evidence based practice. For example you could talk to your administrator about setting up a hypertension clinic where you closely follow those patients in the group with difficult to control blood pressure.
This approach can even work in specialty clinics. If you find yourself in a Neurosciences practice, consider becoming the expert in stroke recovery, TBI or something that also generates bedside procedures such as NPH (normal pressure hydrocephalus). Which brings me to my next point.
- Learn to do outpatient procedures.
Outpatient procedures or bedside procedures such as lumbar punctures, botox, nerve blocks, abscess draining, skin biopsies, etc. are relatively easy procedures that all advanced practice providers can be taught how to perform. These procedures are billable, and will increase the amount of money you are bringing into the practice which will increase your bottom line. Also, these procedures when done in the office setting, help the patient. It saves the patient going to another specialist to pay another co-pay.
- Work smarter, not harder
It took me years to realize that making small changes to my charting would increase my return. I had no idea that I had to include so many ‘Review of Systems’ in order to charge higher complexity visit. I didn’t know that it was possible to bill for time spent counseling and coordinating care for patients. Spend time with the billing and coding department to understand how they are reviewing your charts, and what you can do to increase your return. If your organization uses a third party coder, consider reviewing ThriveAP’s resources for billing and coding,
- Learn the flow of the clinic
Understanding the entire process of how your clinic works is invaluable. It improves patient care, and improves your relationship with your coworkers. Learning how to do the basics of your coworkers job will significantly help in a pinch. If you are a provider who also knows how to answer the phone, take messages, schedule appointments, send referrals, preauthorize procedures and bill for visits you have made yourself a multifaceted team player who would be extremely difficult to replace.
- Understand your value to your organization.
What is the purpose of increasing your value if you don’t know what your value actually is? You know what your salary is, therefore it is reasonable to know what kind of money you are bringing in to your practice. When it comes to value, advanced practice providers can be competitive with our physician counterparts, because we cost less than physicians but still have the ability to bring in the same kind of money. Knowing your actual worth can be a tool to proving your value to any institution.
Times are tough, but with challenge comes opportunity for growth. Maybe COVID is our opportunity to blossom as advanced practice providers. Understanding our value and increasing our financial worth will lead to professional growth and will hopefully keep us employed. We need to be willing to grow as providers and employees to capture what is truly valuable in healthcare, our patients.
Interested in receiving more mentorship and professional development topics such as this? Check out our year-long program, ThriveAP, here to support your clinical and professional development week by week through online webinars. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Becky Hopfinger, FNP-C, has been a nurse practitioner for just over 9 years. She started out her NP career in Denver with a Neurosurgery team. With this practice, she worked within the inpatient, outpatient, ED and the OR. She currently works for Washington University in
St. Louis at Barnes Jewish Hospital. This is a Level 1 Trauma Center, and Comprehensive Stroke Center, with 1300 inpatient beds. Her Neurology team is consistently in the top 15 in the country. She is a frequent class speaker for ThriveAP.