By Jay A. Shorr, BA, MBM-C, CAC I-VIII
Several questions seemed to come up again and again in 2015 from clients as well as during the question-and-answer sessions following my speaking engagements at conferences. Many of these queries focused on the best ways to integrate new technologies and how to more appropriately allocate resources, including personal bandwidth.
Here’s a sampling:
1) Should I invest in a cloud-based practice-management software?
In short, yes. The days of needing your software on a local server are coming to a close. Cloud servers are virtual servers. The beauty of cloud-based technology is that it can be used with mobile devices without the use of a clunky PC and a server. If you lose power in your facility and your server is down, you can log onto your cloud-based software using a 4G or higher mobile platform or any type of secured connection.
It is considered the most cost-efficient method to use, maintain, and upgrade; it provides almost unlimited storage capacity; and backing up your data and/restoring it on the cloud is worlds simpler than doing the same on a physical server. Cloud-based technology is here to stay and will greatly increase your practice’s efficiency.
2) What is EMV or chip technology?
EMV—which stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa—is a global standard for cards equipped with computer chips and the technology used to authenticate such chip-card transactions. Approximately 120 million EMV credit cards have already been issued, and that number is projected to reach nearly 600 million by the end of 2015, according to the Smart Card Alliance.
These security enhancements work to reduce fraud and may even prevent grand-scale hacking. For your practice, this means adding new technology and internal processing systems as well as complying with new liability rules. In the past, an in-office transaction using a counterfeit, stolen, or otherwise compromised card meant charge-backs to your practice. Now, the liability for such fraud will shift to whichever party is the least EMV-compliant.
3) How can I tell which conferences to attend?
This is a hard question to answer as the aesthetics industry does host a growing number of conferences and meetings, and the offerings seem to multiply each year. It’s a choice of riches, but you likely can’t afford to go to them all. To narrow it down, think about what you need or want from a conference. Do you want to catch up with colleagues? Attain CME credit? Meet with vendors? Learn from the masters? Prioritizing your reasons will help you pick and choose.
Your staff is one of your most important assets, and you and your staff should attend a conference that specializes in practice management. This will educate you and your staff on operational, administrative, and financial matters that will help increase your bottom line.
4) When is the best time to invest in new technology?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. There are a lot of variables, including your current financial situation and your patient population’s expectations. That said, if you wait until the end of the year, you may get better deals, as manufacturers need to make quotas or show stockholders increased sales. Is there a new laser you have been thinking about purchasing all year long? If so, now could be the time to buy.
Lastly, take tax advantages into consideration, such as IRS section 179 tax credits if you need immediate tax deductions. This provision allows a taxpayer to deduct the cost of certain types of property on their income taxes as an expense, rather than requiring the cost of the property to be capitalized and depreciated. Allowances change from year to year, so check with your accountant for the best advice.
Jay A. Shorr, BA, MBM-C, CAC I-VIII, is the founder and managing partner of The Best Medical Business Solutions, based in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Fla. His column, “The Shorr Thing,” appears in every issue of Plastic Surgery Practice. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.