For Dr. Eileen Conti, co-owner and founder of Conti Eye Care in Bedminster, New Jersey, what matters most is ensuring a comprehensive, patient-centered care experience. But periodic dips in the practice’s operating cash flow have hindered Dr. Conti and her team from delivering on that promise.
Reimbursement is a longstanding challenge for independent medical practices. And it’s a challenge that is mushrooming as the proportion of patient financial responsibility grows with the rise in high-deductible health plans. In short, patients are facing bigger medical bills—ones they aren’t always prepared to pay.
As a result, private practices like Conti Eye Care are incurring higher collection costs and are experiencing longer collection cycles, putting a squeeze on cash flow.
Faced with mounting operating expenses and no guarantee of immediate reimbursement, Dr. Conti had two options: Find capital to sustain operations or reduce practice hours to cut back on costs.
“There are months when patients haven’t met their deductibles,” explains Dr. Conti. “You’re not getting paid, but you still want to provide a high standard of care. It’s a challenge to do that if you’re forced to cut back on hours because you’re not being reimbursed.”
As a first step, Dr. Conti put in place strategies to improve collections. As a second, she sought out short-term financing to sustain operations while waiting on insurer and patient reimbursements—a task that proved challenging at first.
“I often heard, ‘No, you’re too small; we’re not going to help you out,’” recounts Dr. Conti. “We were challenged to find a lender that was A. willing to help, B. not too unreasonable in terms of interest and C. could deliver the funds quickly.”
She found these qualities with the help of Fast Capital 360 and Business Advisor Mark Lauer. “Mark took most of the trouble out of my hands,” says Dr. Conti. “I explained our situation and need, and he delivered a good answer very quickly—it was terrific.”
That initial answer was a business line of credit the practice could draw from as needed. As Dr. Conti put it, this financing solution was “very helpful and unexpected.”
“As we paid it off, we had more funding available.”
Since this initial line of credit in March of 2016, Dr. Conti has worked with Mark to secure funding through Fast Capital 360 10 times. With those funds, she’s successfully sustained operations when reimbursements were low and advanced her practice with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment.
Attracting New Patients With a Standard of Care
To date, Dr. Conti has financed the purchase of an automated keratometer, a diagnostic instrument for measuring the curvature of the anterior surface of the cornea, and a fundus camera, a device used to visualize the optic nerve in the back of the eye.
Both purchases were made in the interest of fulfilling Dr. Conti’s mission: providing comprehensive, patient-centered care. Through these diagnostic tools, patients “learn about themselves, about their eyes and how they can improve their vision with our practice, versus elsewhere,” says Dr. Conti.
Outdated equipment reduces patients’ confidence in their healthcare providers and turns away new patients seeking the highest standard of care. By outfitting Conti Eye Care with the latest diagnostic tools, Dr. Conti demonstrates that her practice is committed to delivering the best and most comprehensive ophthalmology experience possible.
And it’s this mission that will continue to inspire the practice’s next move. In the coming months, Dr. Conti and her partner will decide whether or not to merge their practice with a fellow provider. “We’re at a point where we’re not quite sure if we’re going to join another group or not. If we don’t, we’ll continue to work with Fast Capital 360 to buy more equipment and advance the practice,” she explains. In either scenario, the aim will be to deliver the highest-standard of ophthalmological care.