What’s right for your practice?

Key considerations for staying afloat during uncertain times

There has never been a more dynamic time in healthcare than today. Value-based care, decreasing reimbursements, and new regulations are keeping industry leaders on their toes, and healthcare organizations—big and small—are scrambling to adapt during these uncertain times.

For many small practices, however, these challenges may be game-changers, prompting some physicians to retire, and others to join larger group practices or health systems. Those who forge on will be seeking solutions for remaining financially viable as the industry continues to shift toward value-based reimbursement models, and patients take on more financial responsibility.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to magically address these financial concerns for every small practice. Each is different and has its own set of challenges and goals. For some, adopting new technology solutions may help, while others may choose to work with a strategic partner or outsource specific functions entirely.

The following are key considerations small practices should take into account when selecting the right solutions and approach for their organization.

Reflect on your practice
Before deciding whether a new technology, a strategic partner or outsourcing is the right answer to address financial processes, small practices first should consider two questions: What do they want their practice to be? How should patients interact with them? For example, is the goal to be a sleek, state-of-the-art facility where patients have access to convenient online and mobile self-service features? Or is the goal to keep those types of interactions personal between patients and the practice?

Next, practices should determine how much they are willing to invest in necessary resources or services and set expectations for a return on investment (ROI). For example, while technology can help automate certain aspects of the revenue cycle, it is expensive particularly for small practices, and it may not produce enough ROI to be worth the investment. If the practice is considering keeping functions in-house, the organization should also make sure it has the ability to attract the right talent to staff those positions.

Practices then should identify their biggest challenges and consider the best way to meet those needs. For example, if billing is chronically behind or coding is problematic because it’s difficult to staff the right talent, perhaps outsourcing to a revenue cycle management (RCM) company would be the right choice.

Regardless of which path they take, small practices need to find the right solution to meet their specific needs, resources, and priorities.

Consider your options
It seems as though there are outsourcing services, vendor partners and technology solutions for nearly every financial function. It can be difficult to choose what’s right for a practice, especially since there are definite pros and cons to each. Consider the following:

Outsourcing services
Services like billing, coding, credentialing and scheduling are commonly outsourced.

When small practices do not have the time, resources or right expertise to keep functions in-house, outsourcing RCM services may be the best option. Many small practices are recognizing these benefits, which is why outsourcing business office services is expected to grow by 30% this year.

Strategic partners
In some cases, the right solution might actually be a combination of technology and a vendor partner who offers ongoing support and training for specific functions. The advantages here allow practices to keep certain functions in-house while benefitting from expert talent and support to optimize the financial process.

Technology solutions
Technology can do amazing things and is constantly evolving to keep up with the healthcare industry’s changing demands. Most technology is designed to streamline and automate specific financial functions generating efficiencies so staff can spend more time with patients.

Cloud-based technology, in particular, brings added levels of security and disaster-recovery benefits which in-house servers typically cannot provide. It also offers additional cost savings, eliminating the need to operate and maintain expensive server equipment. Plus, cloud providers have access to the best and brightest talent to remediate issues when they arise.

Whether cloud-based or not, the most important aspect to consider when selecting a technology solution is that the application and its features meet the current and future needs of the practice. If a practice finds an application that isn’t cloud-based, they shouldn’t rule it out.

Making the right choice for your practice
In this ever-changing market, small practices are just like any other small business owner: They need to stay financially viable to survive. More than ever, they are turning to different solutions and new approaches that allow them to continue providing quality care while optimizing their organizations’ financial stability. Since every practice is unique, this means something different to each.

No matter what type of solution or approach a practice chooses, the bottom line is that it needs to be the right fit for their needs and priorities.

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