The new mantra for the medical practice is upgrade, integrate, and outsource according to the results of the Black Book Rankings™ 2014 Survey. Each year, Black Book gathers over 400,000 viewpoints on information technology through an interactive online survey and telephone discussions. The result is an annual barometer of HIT satisfaction and experiences.
This year, three clear trends emerged for practices looking to stay independent in a changing and challenging time in healthcare. While each trend holds its own unique benefits, it is clear from the survey that many practices are looking to implement all three—upgrade technology, implement integrated solutions, and outsource business functions like revenue cycle management.
According to the survey, nearly 90% of physician practices agree their billing and collections systems need upgrading. Over 65% of those practices are considering a combination of new software and outsourcing services. Here are the trends:
Move to Upgrade Outdated Software
Even with recent changes in the CMS EHR Incentive program, delaying the required use of a 2014 Edition CEHRT, many practices do not currently have an EHR that will enable them to attest for meaningful use. In addition, 91% of business managers fear that the ramifications of their outdated and/or auto-piloted revenue cycle management (RCM) systems, particularly those not integrated to EHRs, will force their physician to sell.
As a result of these challenges and other impending changes like ICD-10, 21% of practices are considering an upgrade of their RCM software within the next six to twelve months, and 90% of those are only considering an EHR centric module.
Practices considering upgrades to cloud-based solutions can see other benefits including reduced costs, seamless upgrades, more flexible access, and reduced concerns around storage and security.
Desire for Seamless Software Integration
System integration adds another level of convenience and rewards. A single source vendor eliminates the need for multiple contacts while also simplifying the learning curve and streamlining many tasks. These benefits are recognized by the 90% of business managers in practices that are still independent who confirm that an innovative, seamless RCM/PM/EHR system would ensure long term practice independence, and greatly improve productivity and profitability.
According to Black Book, “for solo and small practices planning to retain in-house billing functions, 82% aim to integrate physician practice management, billing services, and EHR into a single vendor solution if possible by January 2016.”
Plan to Outsource Billing Functions
Even with upgrades and system integration in place, 90% of solo and small practices with in-house billers expect to outsource billing in the next 24 months. For those who don’t have the resources to adequately prepare for ICD-10, are struggling to manage and maintain quality billing staff, or find their billing processes inadequate or inefficient, outsourcing just makes sense.
Outsourced billing—and other administrative and business functions—can be more affordable while also improving processes. Many practices see an increase in revenue, reduction in costs, and improvement in cash flow with a quality billing service.
This is why 95% of independent physicians consider outsourcing revenue cycle management services and technology processes as the most sensible solution to survive as an autonomous entity.
This trio of upgrading, integrating, and outsourcing may not be the only path to staying independent but it is a clear and productive way to grow and stay competitive while others fail or sell out.
What path will you choose?
About Tom Giannulli
Tom Giannulli, M.D., M.S. is the chief medical information officer at Kareo. He is a respected innovator in the medical technology arena with more than 15 years of deep experience in mobile technology and medical software development. Previously, Tom was chief medical information officer at Epocrates and he was the founder and chief executive officer of Caretools, which developed the first iPhone-based EHR. Prior to that, Tom drove a number of key mobile healthcare technology innovations as VP of Advanced Research for Data Critical and the founder and CEO of Physix. He holds a M.S. in biomedical engineering from the University of Utah and earned his M.D. from the University of Texas at Houston where he completed his residency in internal medicine.