This is largely a measurement of how many of the patients being treated by the practice are on protocol. Insurance companies pay bonuses if more than a certain percentage of a practice’s patients are on protocol. The belief is taking all of the observations and running all of the tests required by the protocol facilitates early treatment and prevents complications.
The good news is that, in addition to helping patients become healthier, keeping patients on protocol will keep your practice healthier financially. If a practice misses a step in the protocol, not only is the patient subjected to greater risk, the practice has missed a revenue opportunity. Keeping patients on protocol is something that combines the principles of good medicine and good business.
We believe you should have a way to quickly determine which patients are on protocol, which patients are off protocol and what needs to be done to bring those patients that are off protocol back on to protocol. While that may sound straight forward, a surprisingly small number practices run reports daily to see if they have missed steps. This has to be a daily task to which the practice must dedicate itself.
Here’s some more good news: the rewards for taking the time to keep patients on protocol are significant. In addition to increasing revenues, practices can decrease the cost of their malpractice insurance. A patient off protocol represents a greater risk of litigation than a patient on protocol. Insurance companies recognize this and reward practices who can keep patients on protocol.
Before the start of 2015, every practice should review their workflows and daily procedures to see if they are optimizing performance in this critical criteria.
Cost of Patient Care
Five years ago less than 10% of a practice’s revenue came from patient balances. Now fully 30% of practice revenues come directly from patients and this number is expected to increase quickly. Now that more and more patients are paying for healthcare out of their own pockets, they are far more interested in the cost of care.
A practice has to accurately predict what patients will owe, collect an appropriate amount at the time of service and help patients set up payment plans when they are needed. The good news is these concerns are new to the medical field, but not new to other businesses. There are wonderful tools available to help practices become more than proficient in this area without having to add staff.
If the downward pressure on pricing does occur, collecting from patients will become a key to practice profitability. If your practice is still sending patients statements every month and believing that past due really starts at around 9 months, you need to re-examine your procedures. You can collect from patients in a timely fashion and maintain good patient relationships. You need to learn how. We can help.
In order to become competitive, practices need to examine their costs and procedures. When was the last time you examined the way your EMR is set up to make sure you have automated as much as you can and done all you can to simplify data entry? Small changes can have large consequences. Streamlining your data entry can certainly get you one more encounter per session. That one additional encounter will result in the practice collecting over $30,000 in additional annual revenue.
Any physician can tell you that their patients’ number one frustration with healthcare is long wait times. What is your practice doing to ensure that a patient scheduled at 2:00 PM is actually seen at that time? Using the reports from your EMR/PM system, your practice can evaluate the current workflows and determine the average wait time per provider and diagnosis. Remember that data gathered from a patient portal doesn’t cost your practice a dime, and it can potentially shorten the time required for each encounter.
Another key factor of patient satisfaction is the perceived effectiveness of the care provided. Although you may prescribe the perfect treatment for your patient’s illness, many patients don’t follow the necessary steps required for recovery outside of the office. Your practice can alleviate this problem by providing detailed patient education materials. After all, a patient is more likely to stick to your treatment plan if they understand how a particular prescription or technique works.
Using a patient portal, your practice can address many of the concerns associated with patient satisfaction. Additionally, you can employ software, such as Clinigence, to determine which patients are on and off protocol, and what steps need to be taken to correct the problem.
Start 2015 Right with The Medical Consultants Group
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the Medical Consultants Group provides practice management and medical billing support for medical practices throughout the Southeast. Contact us online or call (404) 272-4883 to find out how to build the foundation for a healthier practice and healthier patients in 2015.