As if giving your key employees menial tasks isn’t enough to consider outsourcing, the ever-changing landscape of the medical industry should be the deciding factor.
According to a 2016 Deloitte Survey, 59% of respondents outsource to cut costs, and 57% outsource to focus on core business. (This is where removing menial tasks from your employees’ agendas comes in.) Further, more than 50% of respondents noted that outsourced services added value in business case development, strategic assessment, contracting and more.
Still not convinced? Almost 80% of survey participants felt positive about their respective outsourcing relationships. The proof is in the pudding. So when it comes to outsourcing for your medical practice—whether for IT management, billing processes, etc.—the benefits are obvious. It not only frees up your employees’ time to work on the tasks they were hired for, but it also unkinks your cash flow.
Remove the Menial: Outsource It Instead
Are your team members tackling responsibilities that benefit your medical practice the most, or are they multitasking to take care of diversions that don’t pertain to their primary skill sets? Many medical offices regularly struggle with this problem.
My office manager was consistently torn between providing high-quality care and attention to clients and fellow employees and her commitment to growing our online presence. Because she had to devote several hours a week to this “menial” task, her true skill set was put on the back burner. The business suffered because her talents were wasted on projects that could be completed more efficiently by someone else. After learning my lesson, I decided to outsource: I hired a social media marketing assistant to handle our online needs, freeing the office manager to focus on and excel in her “real” job.
Essentially, an outsourcing company can be more efficient in completing jobs while freeing up other employees to shine in the assignments they were hired to complete. It’s a win-win.
Spend Money to Save Money
Outsourcing can also save you money in the long run and serve as a springboard to boost not only your profit margins but also client and employee satisfaction. Further, outsourcing can reduce in-house stress because managers or other highly skilled employees will become more proficient at their intended work. When everyone is working more efficiently, your company can, once again, save money—and accomplish more in a shorter time.
According to research by Keystone Health Services, outsourcing can potentially save your practice thousands of dollars in yearly benefits and salaries. You can also save in software purchases, maintenance, and upgrades. Lastly, outsourcing your billing processes improves your overall cash flow, according to Keystone’s report: “Your practice will see a significant drop in charges and the time it takes to process claims as the outsourcing experts capture and accurately report the information. The result is a steady flow of claims going in and cash coming out.”
What to Outsource? That Is the Question
So you’re convinced—and ready—to bring in a third party to benefit your medical practice, but where do you begin? What facets of your practice need outsourcing attention? Start here:
1. Medical billing processes: With the evolving medical landscape, medical billing has become increasingly time-consuming and, yes, sometimes downright convoluted.
According to MBA HealthGroup, profit margins in the private sector are dwindling because of reduced carrier allowances, increased red tape and more regulation. Thus, an efficient billing process is necessary for survival. Outsourcing the process, according to MBA, means a well-trained specialist will take on the heavy lifting while the rest of your practice gets on with the daily grind. Outsourcing also allows for less vulnerability and disruption in cash flow, as you now boast an entire team that ensures your claims are processed accurately and quickly.
2. Transcriptions: Because medical transcription services for practices work on a volume basis, medical practice leaders aren’t paying staff members hourly rates or salaries to draft transcription work. This, in and of itself, saves money immediately. Also, if your practice’s doctors are transcribing their own notes, this eats up the doctors’ time they could be spending with their patients. Outsource your medical transcriptions, and your patients (and your pocket) will benefit.
3. IT management: According to Black Book research, healthcare providers are overwhelmingly turning to third parties to outsource IT needs. As its 2015 survey of 1,030 hospital IT leaders found, almost 75 percent of health organizations that boast more than 300 patient beds (and more than 80 percent of providers with fewer than 300 beds) have shifted their focus to IT outsourcing for services such as software development and infrastructure.
Perhaps the most convincing argument from the survey came from the 600 respondents who were either former or current IT outsourcing users: Ninety percent said they were either at or near full returns on their investments within three months, if not sooner.
While these three areas of your practice are just the start, there is so much more you can outsource to cut costs, save your employees time to do their actual jobs and ultimately benefit your patients.
Is Your Third-Party Vendor Compliant?
Tried-and-true methods of research still work best, even when it comes to hiring a third-party vendor for outsourcing. Besides looking for online reviews and comments, which is fairly standard practice, you need to get on the phone with the potential vendor. Ask around about them, really getting to know them—don’t just rely on what the internet says.
Cover all your bases when you decide to outsource. Make sure you get exactly what you want at the price you’re willing to pay—don’t make assumptions when it comes to the job you want completed. Go into detail in the contract to ensure that the vendor performs its duties with integrity. In addition, you should also:
• Request at least three references. Speak to each person and at length about his or her relationship with the vendor. Find out whether each company has done good work in the past, whether it’s affordable for you and whether it has a history of communicating effectively.
• Ask about the company’s internal security standards and HIPAA compliance methods.
• Inquire about whether the company returns phone calls and emails in a timely fashion. Does it keep scheduled meetings without forcing you to reschedule?
Outsourcing may seem counterproductive because it feels like you’re hiring a new employee, but once you get the third-party firm in place, you’ll see the benefits. Freeing up your skilled people—your superstars—to do their jobs with excellence will allow your business to thrive. Don’t waste your time and talent on the little stuff. Outsource, and your practice will reap the rewards.
Ben Walker is CEO of Transcription Outsourcing, which provides transcription services to organizations all over the U.S. It specializes in the medical, legal, law enforcement, financial and general business industries. A resident of Denver, Colorado, Ben enjoys golf, hiking and watching college football.