Tackling administrative costs at the practice level

Tackling administrative costs at the practice level

Hari Prasad

Hari Prasad, Founder and CEO of Yosi Health.

Administrative waste costs are undermining health care. That’s the key finding in a recent research brief Health mattersa leading health policy journal under the auspices of Project HOPE, a non-profit international health education organization.

Claiming that almost 50% of administrative expenditure is wasted, the brief reveals that systemic non-standardisation of procedures and widespread errors in administrative payments are the main causes of waste.

While the report acknowledges that no single intervention is likely to solve the problem, and the solution includes a multibillion-dollar, three-pronged health care reform plan, there are ways that modern health care practices can begin to reduce harmful administrative waste without reinventing it. America’s entire health care system.

The solution to addressing wasteful spending for individual clinics and practices may come from updating their current administrative procedures. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and automation, this “modernization” can be accomplished relatively inexpensively, and it’s a win-win for both practice staff and their patients. Best of all, it’s a step the industry has already begun to take during the pandemic, establishing new protocols like telehealth and pre-arrival appointment screening. Seeing the process is still not a priority for many practices, who are still asking themselves where the tangible ROI is for such investments.

The pandemic has shown us what a bottleneck the traditional waiting room can be for businesses. It showed us how much time front office staff spend on the phone and in person recording patient information and managing practice workflow.

When waiting rooms were no longer a healthy option, it didn’t take long for solutions to become available that would effectively take the waiting room “paperwork” requirement online. For many practices, it was a long overdue improvement.

Chicago’s Michigan Avenue Primary Care knew it needed to consolidate its disparate enrollment and appointment management systems into one integrated platform. At the same time, they needed to implement telehealth to accommodate their direct care, primary care, and ENT practices. By adopting a pre-arrival centralized and fully configurable patient intake solution, they were able to bring these services to their offices and successfully navigate pandemic lockdowns.

For this medical practice, it was one of the best ways to combat administrative waste. Workflow automation optimized for their specific practice needs has gone a long way toward reducing staff burnout, improving EHR accuracy, increasing the bottom line, and dramatically enhancing the patient experience. It also greatly reduced the incidence of data entry errors.

“By modernizing and consolidating our patient intake procedures, we’ve been able to minimize staff data entry and reduce errors,” reports Dr. Joshua Merok, assistant medical director at Michigan Avenue Primary Care. “It actually improved our patient feedback scores, despite implementing the system at a very difficult time for everyone.”

Using an automated billing method can also reduce administrative waste. Collecting payments before and after the visit can be much smoother and easier for both patients and staff. The new solutions offer a user-friendly, PCI-compliant interface that allows a physician’s practice to collect co-pays and outstanding balances from a patient’s pre-visit, while using a “credit card” for faster payment after the visit. Even the collection of overdue balances can be automated, and by offering flexible billing services that fit patients’ budgets, their care can continue uninterrupted. And since most of the system is automated, front office staff (and your billing staff) will have much more time to focus on other tasks.

Finding the right solution for your practice can seem daunting at first, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Make sure the solution you’re considering meets or exceeds the necessary HIPAA requirements. Ask the vendor about the appropriate certifications, being SOC 2 Security Compliant, or having HITRUST CSF certification, and PCI compliance are all important indicators to ensure your solution will be one that both patients and regulators can trust.

Taking the leap into administrative “waste management” will benefit your practice, your staff, and most importantly, your patients.

By Scott Rupp Hari Prasad, Medical Practice Administration, Yossi Health

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