If you are like most physicians, you grapple with the challenge of turning a profit while providing outstanding patient care -- and not burning yourself out in the process. This is not a new story, and certainly has garnered its share of attention from the health care community, government and the media (The Wall Street Journal covered the topic in an eye-opening and illustrious article earlier this year).
What is going wrong? Despite 50-hour+ work weeks, most practice owners can not get ahead. Revenue is declining while costs are increasing. Uncompensated time – which includes time spent on non-billable activities like phone calls, paperwork, etc. -- is growing at an alarming rate. In a survey produced by The Sonoma County Medical Association, it is purported that the average general physician is calculated to be grossing 675 uncompensated hours per year. Doctors are going bankrupt and giving up on private practice because this kind of health care is unsustainable.
In yesterday’s webinar, “Looking Beyond Meaningful Use: Revenue Sources for Primary Care Practices”, I was joined by Shahid Shah and Atlanta practice owner Joel Fine, M.D., as we laid out some innovative ideas for small medical practices to break out of their revenue ruts.
Practices looking to the government’s Meaningful Use incentives for salvation might as well keep dreaming. This is not the only solution. Any substantive change will require a major shakeup involving two things:
1) The way that physicians use health information technology, and
2) The way they manage the business side of their practices.
When it comes to technology, vanilla certified electronic health records (EHRs) focused on documentation aren’t really equipped to alter the status quo. Doctors looking to HIT to help reduce uncompensated time, create efficiencies and enhance patient care should consider patient communication systems with built-in EHR, patient portal, practice management and revenue cycle management components.
Robust, fully functional technology tools can help doctors struggling nationwide to crawl out from underneath the mounds of paper charts and financial strain by optimizing a world of benefits by providing access to:
- Social networks, discussions forums, interest groups.
- Auto notifications, email, e-consults, instant Messaging
- Shared chart comments, pathway tracking, Email, IM, and consults
In addition to embracing health information technology to gain ground in the battle against uncompensated care, practice owners must also be open to new and different business models. In the webinar, we made the case for an innovative, practical, portable business model that helps practices make more top-line revenue from existing pLatients or new revenue centers without increasing risk.
Hello Health is so much more than an Electronic Health Record. It’s the electronic gatekeeper for access to the primary care physician. It’s going to change the way medical professionals practice for the better and will keep patients and their doctors pleased and satisfied about a new level of quality care.
Listen to the full webinar here
Steven Ferguson is the patient management officer at Hello Health, the revenue generating EHR platform for primary care practices supporting practice vitality through patient engagement and electronic medical revenue.