Solo health care providers and small medical clinics face loads of challenges in a highly competitive marketplace. Some issues facing these small providers who compete with large hospital practices include,
- Coverage for hours the office is closed
- ICD-10 Implementation
- Meaningful Use 2 (MU2)
- Collecting co-pays and deductibles
- Rising costs of operation
- Payer Interference
- Patient satisfaction scores
- Independence vs. employment
The overall milieu facing small and solo medical practices is increasingly hostile and physician owners feel pressure to work in a corporate medical environment.
And, while these challenges need attention, the underlying problem in small practices or solo practices is with back-office operations, especially billing. But, small practices have limited resources, and they hire a single person to perform four separate billing functions that include,
- Proper and appropriate coding for your specialty and use of modifiers
- Timely Claim submission that result in minimum rejection, working rejected claims
- Patient Collections and outstanding balances
- Pursuing unpaid Insurance claims
It is impossible for a single person to adequately do all this!
In the corporate setting of hospital-owned practices, each of the above activities has large groups of employees involved in just one function. The result of this losing billing battle is,
- Improper coding and claim rejections
- Rising 'aging' of accounts receivable
- Patient collections
With all this non-medical work to do, solo physicians and physician owners of small group practices hardly have time to practice medicine.
Are There Solutions?
Simply put - Yes! There are ways to affordably use cloud-based billing and practice-centric technologies to help manage the challenges and the repetitive tasks that all health care providers must deal with. The beauty of using the cloud is its scalability. As your practice grows you can easily add new users.
Automate nearly everything your practice does. Start with the front office where co-pays and deductibles are collected, appointments made, eligibility confirmed, referrals made and patient registration occurs. Hire 'virtual' staff if necessary to avoid HR issues.
Next is automation of “middle office’ tasks that include,
- Drug interaction and allergy alerts
- Meaningful use reporting
- Medical transcription
- Laboratory and imaging orders
- Electronic charge capture
A robust electronic health record (EHR) that talks to billing software and scheduling software with direct and secure electronic transmission of orders and prescriptions to local pharmacies, laboratories, and imaging centers automates these and other tasks.
Back office operations often tend to lend themselves to using an electronic health record and strong practice management software. Automated tasks for the back office are,
- Submitting electronic and paper claims
- A/R collections and follow up
- Provider credentialing
- Management and financial reports
- Management of patient statements
There is More You Can Do!
There are loads of things to do that make your practice easier and more enjoyable to run.
For example, patients like that their physician uses an electronic health record, but hate that it seems as if the doctor is too busy entering data and has no time for them. The solution – use a medical assistant as a ‘medical scribe’ that enters computer data as you are examining patients. Not only does this give you more patient face time, it also frees you from drudge work so you are more productive and see more patients. In the larger context, this is cost effective.
Many physicians outsource things such as statement production, appointment scheduling, and phone patient registration and appointment confirmation. As these functions are done remotely services or direct hires from anywhere in the United States is possible.
The goal is to give physicians the most productive office possible by eliminating non-productive work from the doctor and his staff, stabilize cash flow and still leave family time for small and solo practice doctors.