Facing the Growing Administrative Burden
How can you manage your medical practice more profitablywhile ensuring the highest levels of patient care? Hospitals and clinics everywhere are struggling to reconcile these seemingly conflicting goals as major regulatory changes loom on the horizon.
In a previous white paper, we discussed the challenges that practices like yours face as you try to integrate electronic medical records (EMR) systems into your workflow:
- According to an NIH study, EMR only increases free time for physicians by a negligible amount. After implementing EMR, physicians’ time spent with patients rose from 28.8 to 29.8 minutes per visit.
- An oft-cited American Journal of Emergency Medicine study found that physicians who used EMR in a community hospital emergency department were spending an average of 43% of their time on data entry, compared to 28% of their time in direct contact with patients.
- A study conducted by Virginia’s Health Services Research & Development department found that even after receiving EMR training, physicians were spending 38.5% of each patient visit on EMR activity. Time spent on patient engagement increased only modestly, from 36% to 38.9% of each visit.
But mastering EMR systems is just one of the challenges medical practices face. You’re also under pressure to:
- Schedule and reschedule appointments efficiently.Fitting in just one more patient per day can increase a medical practice’s annual revenue by more than $16,000.That makes it critical for your practice to use your physicians’ time as productively as possible, and to avoid the missed connections that can lead to missed appointments.
- Insurance verification and authorization.Verifying patients’ insurance coverage is one of the biggest drivers of excessive practice overhead. As of 2010, the median overhead for primary care practices was 59.5% of revenue.
- Filing claims with insurance companies.Medical practices that don’t automatically check patients’ insurance coverage electronically before performing procedures often face major hassles in trying to get reimbursed by insurance companies after the fact.Filing and following up on claims is yet another task that takes time away from providing quality service to patients.
- Collecting receivables.Maintaining steady cash flow for your practice is largely a matter of having a consistent, reliable system for following up on invoices.Practices that lack such a system and are short on manpower often must let a certain percentage of their bills go uncollected. In fact, non-hospital medical organizations tend to collect only 21.8% of their patients’ bad debt.
- Coding ICD-9 and ICD-10.Whether your practice is still using the ICD-9 coding standard or the newer ICD-10 codes, entering your diagnoses and procedures into your systems can be a time-consuming task for your staff. But because of the medical knowledge required, it’s not an activity you can easily hand off to an intern or temp worker.
Facing efficiency challenges like these, many medical practices have considered outsourcing some of their administrative tasks to consulting firms. But there’s no guarantee that outsourcing will deliver the desired results.
Five Common Pitfalls of Outsourcing Back-Office Tasks
Medical practices that outsource effectively can save a great deal of time for their staffs. Unfortunately, when your practice tries to hand off its administrative tasks, you may run into some of the following challenges:
- Lack of visibility and control. Many back-office service providers offer a supposedly “one-size-fits-all” package of services. That can leave your practice unable to get the specific assistance you need. The worst part of it is that since you can’t see what your partner is doing on a daily basis, you may not realize what you’re missing until it’s too late.
- Limited options. Many outsourcing firms offer a limited array of solutions. You may have to engage two or three partners to get the full range of support you need.
- Lack of local support. Some outsourcing firms manage to charge appealingly low prices because they use inexpensive overseas resources to perform administrative tasks. The cost savings can be significant—but what happens when you need to reach a local contact person to discuss a specific problem? Differences in time zone and language can present serious barriers to resolution.
- Unfavorable financial terms. Many consulting firms offer receivables collection services for a percentage of the bad debt they collect. That sounds fair at first—but it can take a big bite out of your practice’s profitability. In fact, you may even end up losing money on certain patient relationships.
- Lack of medical knowledge. Some back-office support providers don’t focus exclusively on the healthcare industry—they’re generalists who try to be all things to all businesses. Because they don’t have a deep understanding of the intricacies of medical bookkeeping, they’re prone to making costly mistakes.
Where does this leave your medical practice? Is outsourcing still a viable option for streamlining your administrative burden and helping your staff focus on providing good care? Yes—but you have to look for the right kind of partner.
Seven Signs of an Ideal Outsourcing Partner
Your ideal outsourcing partner will have a deep knowledge of the healthcare field, and will provide flexible services that meet the exact needs of your practice. Nsight Global can deliver. When you choose Nsight Global as your administrative partner, you’ll benefit from:
- Flexible contracts. Most EMR service providers only offer fixed-time contracts. We offer contracts as short as 30 days. In other words, you’ll pay only for the length of time you need services, and you can change or cancel anytime. In addition, we won’t charge you startup fees, or penalties for early termination.
- Flexible solutions. With Nsight Global, there’s no such thing as “one size fits all.” Each of our EMR solutions is designed to fit the needs of your practice. We can offer you a point solution that optimizes one business process such as accounts receivable, or a complete solution that boosts the productivity of your entire department or practice.
- Openness to your software. We never expect our clients to rip out the back-office software they use every day and replace it with the applications we recommend. Instead, we’ll work with whatever you have. That means we can ramp up our services more quickly and provide you value sooner. And if you’re ready to explore cloud-based solutions, we can recommend the platforms that will give you the most value.
- An excellent collection record. We know how to collect your outstanding accounts receivable balances from insurance companies. That’s one less headache for you and your staff.
- Fixed fees. Some partners will charge a 50% fee to collect your receivables. Nsight Global provides this service for a fixed fee, so that your organization can keep more of the money it’s owed.
- Need our help 15 hours per week? We can deliver. Want to reduce that total to 10 hours starting next month? We’ll simply scale down our involvement—and our fee.
- Deep knowledge of the medical industry. One of NsightGlobal’s founders is a doctor who knows firsthand how challenging it is to run a successful and profitable medical practice in the midst of significant regulatory changes. You’ll benefit from our insights and experience every time you work with us.
What can all of this mean for your bottom line? In our next white paper, we’ll discuss the financial benefits you can achieve from working with a flexible administrative partner. For example, one Nsight Global client has managed to:
- Recover more than $1 million in receivables.
- Reduce the cost of its operations by $500,000 per year.
- Reduce overhead by 30%.
- Get on the pathtowards greater profitability.
- Partner with a company that understands its daily challenges as a medical organization.
Request Your Free Consultation Today
In a field that’s changing rapidly due to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, there’s never been a better time to optimize the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your medical organization. Nsight Global is ready to help. Sign up for a free back-office assessment today. Or call (877) 674-4487 for more information.