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READER TIPS

Spreadsheets track everything from payers to subscriptions

The manager of a surgical medical office in Maine tracks both the big and the not-so-big elements of office management on spreadsheets. The spreadsheets show past numbers, current numbers, credentialing deadlines, and even when subscription renewals are coming up. And the result is that all the files are in one place and all the information is always readily available.

The most significant spreadsheet tracks the billing codes. It shows how many of each procedure the office performs and how much money is coming from each payer and what the allowables are. Even though the computer tracks this information, the spreadsheet provides an immediate and ongoing view of how payers compare and also how each one’s payments change from year to year. With this information, it’s easy to see where the highest profits come from and if the office is getting paid properly and if the fees are set appropriately.

It’s also easy to evaluate potential changes. Currently, for example, the office is looking at the profit potential of setting up an in-house surgical suite for minor surgeries. Similarly, when the office considers a new payer contract, it can enter that payer’s conversion factor and see immediately how the payments compare to those of the other payers. With all the payers side by side, the financial picture is obvious.

Other spreadsheets track computer maintenance and technical support costs, the office’s legal and accounting fees, and major supplies. Prices can creep up; but, by regularly updating the spreadsheets, the office knows when to look for a new vendor or when to ask for a discount. There’s a sheet too for membership and subscription renewals. It shows what the office has paid and when, and the due date of the next renewal. Thus, nothing gets paid twice or paid too early.

Printouts of the sheets are kept in a binder on the doctor’s desk and pages are replaced as they get updated. Also in the binder are lists of miscellaneous items such as all the insurance plans in which the office participates. The printouts serve as a ready reference for the doctor whenever there’s a question such as what subscriptions the office currently has or when memberships or licenses or credentials need to be renewed.

For managers looking to move to spreadsheet organization, start by asking the physicians what they most want to track. One doctor’s answer was, “the dues and credentialing drive me crazy.” Then move from there.


Medical Office Manager wants to send you $100. Tell us how you solved a problem, implemented a successful program – or share any idea we can use in our Reader Tips column and we’ll send you $100. Contact catherine@plainlanguagemedia.com


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