Electronic health records (EHR) and practice management (PM) solutions continue to provide worth and value beyond their initial investment.
Despite proven return on investment (ROI) from these solutions there are practices that continue use work arounds or standalone tools in place of and integrated EHR and PM system.
Those practices may be missing out on a number of profitable answers to tough financial questions, especially in small practices where every penny counts.
According to Health Affairs, small practices could save up to $25,000 per year for each employee when using an EHR because of efficiency gains and increases in revenue. “The increases in revenue arise primarily from more accurate higher level coding, but some providers also were able to see additional patients because of time saved using an EHR.”
Practices employing a traditional dictation and transcription model are missing an opportunity for both cost savings and improved efficiency. Documenting with an EHR can reduce or eliminate transcription costs while speeding completion of notes and superbill and improving coding.
Manual coding is filled with problems that cost time and money. EHRs enable more complete documentation of visit activities and can assist in accurate coding. With an integrated practice management system, the finished electronic superbill can be submitted instantly and quickly processed. One study showed coding level improves by 3.5% and charges increase by 5% when using an EHR.
Scheduling and Follow Up
Practices employing manual patient scheduling and follow up are putting themselves at a disadvantage from a logistical standpoint. Integrated practices are much better able to establish automated workflows through their EHRs and practice management systems when handling billing, patient scheduling, and follow up to visits. For example, with an automated system for scheduling versus a paper book or spreadsheet, you can adapt your schedule more easily for seasonal changes or to try a solution to wave scheduling. Research has shown that wave scheduling and modified wave scheduling can increase the number of visits in a practice by as much as 20% but it is hard to do without a customizable calendar.
Managing billing and accounts receivable is the one of the most labor-intensive and unruly processes within any medical practice. For those in smaller practices, staff often multitask, addressing care procedures followed by accounts receivable, patient follow-up, and even eligibility verification. Checking eligibility manually is very time and labor intensive. With a good practice management system, it can be done instantly with the push of a button for a single patient or an entire day’s patients. This can also reduce denials and speed payment of claims. Automating billing and collection systems can maximize profitability and increase time with patients. Enhanced productivity can be achieved through an EHR and practice management system that streamlines collection methods. Manual collections result in massive amounts of paper records, hard copy mailings and staff hours following up with patients on balances owed.
e-Prescriptions and Labs
Manual prescriptions and labs are historically problematic. When done by hand, nearly 30% of labs can get misplaced and need to be redone. Manual prescriptions often result in a high volume of calls from pharmacies. These are just some of the problems, and while standalone solutions can help solve these problems, they only go so far.
A full-featured EHR provides these electronic options, often from right inside the note. You get improved safety, faster turnaround, and improved patient care while also having access to everything in one place and the ability to see the whole picture of the patient’s care. You can also share results via a patient portal, which many patients say they want. In fact, two thirds of patients say they’d be more loyal to a physician with an EHR and portal.
While there are some benefits to standalone systems, they often don’t fully solve the problem. And they don’t offer many of the added financial incentives you can get with an integrated EHR/PM solution. Check out this infographic that lays out many of the benefits of an integrated solution for more.
About the Author
Scott E. Rupp is a writer and an award-winning journalist focused on healthcare technology. He has worked as a public relations executive for a major electronic health record/practice management vendor, and he currently manages his own agency, millerrupp. In addition to writing for a variety of publications, Scott also offers his insights on healthcare technology and its leaders on his site, Electronic Health Reporter.