Combatting Wasteful Administrative Costs At the Practice Level

Hari Prasad

By Hari Prasad, founder and CEO, Yosi Health.

Wasteful administrative costs are crippling healthcare. That’s the key finding of a recent research brief published by Health Affairs, a leading journal of health policy under the aegis of Project HOPE, a nonprofit international health education organization.

Claiming that nearly 50% of administrative spending is wasteful, the brief reveals that systemic non-standardization of procedures and widespread administrative billing errors as the major root causes for the waste.

While the report admits no single intervention is likely to make a dent in the problem – and its solution includes a multi-billion dollar, three-tier healthcare reform plan – there are ways modern healthcare practices can start reducing harmful administrative waste without having to reinvent America’s entire healthcare system.

The solution to address wasteful expenditures for individual clinics and practices can come through updating  their current administrative procedures. Thanks to advances in AI and automation, this “modernization” can be accomplished relatively inexpensively and doing so has proven beneficial for both practice staff and their patients. Best of all, it’s a step the industry has already begun taking during the pandemic – instituting new protocols such as telehealth and pre-arrival appointment check-in. Seeing the process through is still not a high priority for a lot of practices who still ask themselves, where’s the tangible ROI on such an investment?

The pandemic showed us what a log-jam the traditional waiting room represents to the business. It showed us how much time front office staff spends on the phone, and in person, recording patient information and managing the practice’s work flow.

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

Michigan Avenue Primary Care of Chicago knew they needed to consolidate disparate registration and appointment management systems into one integrated platform. At the same time, they needed to implement telehealth to accommodate their immediate care, primary care, and ENT practices. By adopting pre-arrival focused and fully customizable patient-intake solution, they were able to bring these services to their offices and successfully pivot during the pandemic lockdowns.

For this medical practice, it was one of the best ways to start combatting administrative waste. Workflow automation, optimized for the needs of their specific practice, went a long way towards reducing staff burnout, improving EHR accuracy, increasing the bottom line, and drastically elevating the patient experience. It also significantly reduced the instances of data entry error.

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

Using an automated billing method can also cut down on administrative waste. Collecting payments pre and post visit can be made much smoother and easier for both patients and staff.  New solutions offer a user-friendly, PCI-compliant interface which allows a physician’s practice to collect co-pays and outstanding balances from patient’s pre-arrival, while leveraging “credit card on file” to receive faster payments after the visit. Even the collection of past-due balances can be automated and by offering flexible patient payment services to accommodate patient budgets, their care can continue uninterrupted.  And because most of the system is automated, front office staff (and your billing staff) will have much more time to deal with other tasks.

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

Getting a jump on administrative “waste management” will benefit your practice, your staff, and most importantly, your patients.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *