3 ways to combat inflation in your medical practice

Consumer inflation continues to rise sharply, and businesses in all sectors of the economy are having to adapt if they hope to remain profitable. For many businesses, that means hiking prices to cover the higher input costs. Such a straightforward solution, however, isn’t always open to all medical practices.

With your revenue subject to medical aid drug formularies and prescribed rates for procedures, this leaves you little room to manoeuvre. You could charge patients more on co-payments, but consumers are already under pressure, so if you’re not careful, you might price yourself out the market.

These pricing dynamics are forcing medical practitioners to get creative to remain profitable. Here are 3 tips that can help:

Be serious about business management

You’re not able to control input costs and rising inflation, so look at other aspects of your business that you can control. First, focus on your debtor management and cash flow. If you can reduce your debtors book – all your unpaid patient accounts – and get those payments into your practice’s account, it’s less likely that you’ll need to use credit to cover your costs.

Avoid this by being proactive – the accounts manager in your practice needs to find the right balance of pressure and incentives to get clients and medical aids to settle their bills on time. Having sufficient cash flow allows you to negotiate with suppliers for bigger discounts on cash-on-delivery orders. Lower supply costs in turn will help boost your profit margins.

Proper medical practice management and accounting software allows you to monitor all financial aspects of your business and react promptly if inflation starts to eat into your profits. Your management software should be able to show you a clear breakdown of your operational costs. These expense reports will allow you to track costs that have risen sharply or out of proportion with other expenses. Taking the time to generate an in-depth review like this every few months will help you identify the areas in which inflation is having the worst effect, so you can make the appropriate changes.


Pool resources for shared services like accounting, operations management, cleaning and reception


If you’re not sure how to proceed or how to optimise operations, speak to your relationship banker for advice or assistance. They have access to medical-practice experts in our network who can help you get a grip on your financial management.

Review and renegotiate contracts

While reviewing your operational costs, have another look at all your contracts with service providers. This can be tricky, because you don’t want to damage long-standing relationships that add value to your business. Recognise that these partnerships have a value that may overrule factors like a competitor offering a cheaper service – this applies especially when a service is unique to your area of medicine. However, it’s worth reviewing more impersonal, transactional services like your internet and cellphone contracts – you might be able to get the same benefits from another provider at lower cost.

Outsource or consolidate business functions

When analysing your expenses, zoom in on your fixed overheads like bookkeeping or cleaning – could you save money by sharing these or other functions with other practices nearby? If your practice is located on a property with other medical practices, it should be quite easy to pool resources for shared services like accounting, operations management, cleaning and reception.

If you don’t have other medical businesses nearby to share the cost, it may work out cheaper to outsource some of these functions. By paying only for the services that you need to run your IT systems, do your books or clean your premises, you’ll save on your salary overheads. Taking charge of your expenses helps you control and minimise the impact of outside factors driving up your costs.

As a Nedbank Private Clients accountholder, you’ll have access to all the banking products and services you need for your medical practice and your personal financial management, as well as expert advice from a team of relationship bankers who deal exclusively with medical professionals and their practice requirements.