In order to ensure that your healthcare organization continues to grow and offer exceptional medical care for those in need, it’s imperative to understand the most effective ways to boost its profitability. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies that can be used to support the financial success of your institution, but it can be challenging to determine which ones are worth the time, money, and effort it takes to implement them. At Elite Medical Scribes, our goal is to provide your healthcare organization with all of the knowledge and resources it needs to thrive. Today, we’ll be discussing four simple and incredibly effective ways to improve your organization’s bottom line.
1. Strengthen Your Organization’s Patient Experience
In 2016, research from Accenture (NYSE: ACN) found that U.S. hospitals that deliver “superior” customer experience achieve net margins that are 50 percent higher, on average, than those of hospitals providing “average” customer experience. Researchers also discovered that this correlation between exceptional patient experiences and higher profit margins held true for every type and size of hospital examined, including for-profits, nonprofits, urban, rural, academic, and non-academic hospitals. It’s also worth noting that the net margins for urban hospitals were approximately eight times higher than for rural facilities, suggesting that optimal patient satisfaction scores are particularly beneficial for healthcare organizations in large towns and cities.
There are many factors that can influence the overall customer experience that your organization provides for its patients, which can make it difficult to pin down which aspects of your medical team’s service could use work or refinement. Of course, one of the best ways to identify potential flaws is by collecting and making use of patient feedback. By gathering quantitative data through customer surveys and focus groups, you can gain invaluable insights into how your patients feel about their treatment and which facets of service they value the most.
This article from Dr. James Merlino, chief experience officer and associate chief of staff of the Cleveland Clinic health system, perfectly exemplifies how proper utilization of customer feedback can drive improvements in patient care. Dr. Merlino’s medical team and ED leaders adamantly believed that their low patient satisfaction scores were the result of long wait times. However, after conducting a series of focus groups, they were surprised to find that their patients valued displays of concern and caring from medical staff members far more than optimized wait times. In response to this discovery, Cleveland Clinic implemented an initiative where each member of the emergency department (including sanitary staff) would communicate with patients while they waited and ask them if they needed assistance. This simple shift in staff policy resulted in a significant increase in patient experience scores.
2. Improve Your Organization’s Billing and Collection Processes
According to Becker’s Healthcare, creating a simple and transparent billing and collection system is a fantastic way for hospitals to optimize profitability, especially now that many customers are responsible for a greater share of their healthcare costs as a result of high-deductible health insurance plans. After all, patients are much less likely to submit payments on time if your organization’s system forces them to slog through complex forms and processes. Moreover, being forced to work through denied or rejected claims consumes valuable employee work hours and can substantially increase the amount of time it takes for your organization to receive payment.
In this article on optimizing hospital billing and collections, Jim Yarsinsky, a revenue enhancement specialist for U.S. hospitals, asserts that patient communication and education are two essential components for ensuring that medical bills are properly settled. If you can prepare your patients for their upcoming payments and help them to understand each step of your organization’s billing process, they’re much more likely to follow through on their financial responsibilities. Yarsinsky also suggests that medical teams inform patients on the different resources they can use to resolve their bills, including Medicaid and installment payment options, before admission. These steps will guarantee that your patients have a solid understanding of what’s expected of them and reinforce the fact that your organization has their best interests at heart.
Additionally, Yarsinsky recommends that hospital administrators establish an “insurance authorization checklist” for their facility. The purpose of this system is to confirm patient eligibility and proper pre-authorization at the onset of each patient visit to ensure that your billing and collection cycle runs smoothly. He suggests that hospitals provide their admissions personnel with these checklists for each registering patient. That way, both your staff and your patients can clarify eligibility early on to avoid potential mix-ups and errors.
3. Reduce Unnecessary Lab Testing
In a recent study from the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, an electronic laboratory utilization management system (laboratory expert system [LES]) was used by a U.S. Veterans Affairs hospital to reduce unnecessary clinical laboratory testing. After implementing the LES, total test volume decreased by a mean of over 11% per year compared to pre-LES test volume. Researchers noted that this change was not caused by fluctuations in outpatient visits or inpatient days of care. The hospital’s annual cost savings were estimated at $151,184 in 2012 and $163,751 in 2013. A vast majority of these savings were attributed to the massive reduction in high-volume, large panel testing. Most importantly, no negative effects on patient care were reported over the duration of this study, and the mean length of stay for patients was not affected, meaning that these electronic laboratory utilization systems can be used to mitigate unnecessary lab tests without hindering patient care.
This study confirms that a LES can play a major part in reducing the amount of redundant testing that occurs in your facility’s lab, saving significant amounts of money in the process. These systems also ensure that your laboratory technicians are committing the entirety of their time towards meaningful tests and analyses.
4. Use Medical Scribes
In 2017, the University of Massachusetts Medical School published the results of a study that was performed to determine the feasibility and benefits of implementing scribes into medical teams. Researchers incorporated four part-time scribes into an academic family medicine practice (consisting of seven physicians) and used surveys and time-tracking data to assess the impact that medical scribes had on physician productivity, time spent on documentation, and physician and patient satisfaction. Not only did the scribes reduce the amount of time that physicians spent on charting and improve their work-life balance, but they also substantially increased clinician productivity. When the results of this pilot study were annualized, they were projected to generate more than $168,000 every single year, more than making up for the $79,500 annual cost of two full-time equivalent scribes.
By partnering with Elite Medical Scribes, you can provide your organization’s clinicians with unrivaled documentation support. We have a proven history of delivering outstanding and measured results for our clients, allowing us to become the scribe service of choice for a number of the country’s finest healthcare organizations. Our highly trained medical scribes will improve the productivity, efficiency, and work-life balance of your clinicians by assisting with their administrative responsibilities. This will allow them to see more patients throughout the day and participate in more face-to-face interaction with their patients, effectively increasing the profitability of your medical team and enhancing the customer experience that your practitioners offer.
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