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Practice Management Challenges: Rising Operating Costs

Posted by Sue Ellen McKelvey on May 9, 2017

shutterstock_614103287.jpgHealthcare practices, like any business, have always faced financial challenges, and ever-rising operating costs have always been on that list of challenges. However, over the past few years, factors such as new regulations, health insurance changes and uncertainty around reimbursement rates and new payment models have intensified the problem. Not only do these factors contribute to greater operating costs, they also squeeze revenues, leaving providers with that “stuck between a rock and a hard place” feeling.

So what are the providers who have successfully rolled along with those punches doing to compensate for these difficulties? Embracing the cultural chiasm of IT and working with IT platforms that collect data, being engaged in the business end of the practice and applying rigorous discipline to the task of cost efficiency and reducing the number of time-heavy and unnecessary processes. This must be only achieved in ways that are not detrimental to the quality of care provided to clients. While that may seem like a tall order, many are making significant progress towards accomplishing that task by leveraging technology to help bring costs down, using it add efficiency to both office and patient management.

Technology can add efficiency to patient management, bringing operating costs down. Features included in an end-to-end patient management software can automate, standardize and/or streamline many daily tasks to reduce the time – and staff hours – they take, including:

  • Online portals: appointment booking, self- management and automated reminders for appointments and tasks for the patient/client

  • Insurance verification/ seamless billing/assisted coding

  • Automated client check-in barcoding/ check-out invoicing

  • Billing and claims optimization/ clinician level coding

  • Online prescribing and laboratory ordering/ outcomes displays

  • Comprehensive medical and client journey e-management

  • Efficient patient education/ team care planning

  • Multiple patient engagement, empowerment, communication

  • Client feedback and satisfaction measures and feedback display

Other capabilities of a solid, end-to-end healthcare IT system that can improve patient management include the ability to track and report on patient clinical patterns and clinical approaches taken.
An end to end IT platform will assist in the clinic flow with arrivals and waiting times, manage lab workflow, monitor exam room availability, and generation of online intake forms in advance of a new client's initial visit. And then allow you to connect these factors in reports for a variety of clinical and business purposes; all part of effective value based modelling reviews.

Additionally, a modern, comprehensive healthcare IT system offers advanced data analytics inbuilt, which can help the practice manager hold to an effective cycle of review to optimize the day-to-day business protocols and habits. This allows for a more exacting appraisal of various workflow processes, making it easier to identify inefficiencies and/or redundancies, as well as gain a greater understanding of the costs were associated with those processes.

Better appraisals of how business is currently getting done provides the 'evidence' or the information needed to streamline clinical and administrative workflows, mitigate costs and reduce waste of resources. Better data analysis inbuilt means you see the changes over time in your 'real time' practice - not months later; improves the ability to evaluate the results of those efforts quickly and accurately.

The end result of leveraging technology as a tool for improving administrative and clinical workflows is leaner, more efficient operations -- effectively trimming the fat to reduce operating costs without compromising the quality of the care delivered to healthcare clients.

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Topics: Patient Management

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