Improve Your Profits Doctors: Streamline office processes to improve your profits

Healthcare delivery is transforming into a more competitive, market-driven business. As a healthcare provider, you must cope with a heavily regulated delivery system that is labor-reliant and paper-intensive. Leaders in the healthcare industry are turning to business solutions such as redefining work processes and improving technology to help them cope and ensure financial success.

Consider re-engineering

Although once thought of as a business or manufacturing solution, re-engineering is becoming critical for healthcare providers as well. Re-engineering can help you streamline personnel, resources, and processes while continuing to focus on quality service. Driven by management, the solutions can range from fundamental work flow process improvements to high-tech image and information support.

Analyzing and solving paperwork problems is one good place to begin re-engineering. Studies have shown that the cost of generating, moving, and tracking great volumes of paperwork now account for more than 25 cents of every healthcare dollar.

Healthcare providers who have redesigned their work processes have reaped savings from reduced cost and improved productivity in many areas, including:

Reduction of extra full-time employees

Productivity improvement of up to 30% for new revenue-producing functions

The ability to handle more volume without the corresponding personnel increase

Freeing up valuable floor space currently used for filing

Redesigning and enhancing information systems can improve cash flow. If you can handle patient registration and eligibility verification more efficiently, for example, you may see a reduction of bad debt expense. Similarly, you may reduce fee collection time because information is immediately available to resolve claims.

Re-engineering requires commitment

Support from all levels of staff is essential to successfully redesign work processes. The process may run into obstacles, including a lack of personnel to dedicate to redesign teams, a general reluctance to seek outside expertise, and lack of support from management who must sell the process to the staff. Re-engineering requires serious commitment from everyone involved. Implement clear lines of authority and accountability, and assure the staff that the processes will positively affect the work environment.

Here are some of the particular tasks you need to do:

Document work flow processes

Select process measurements

Collect current performance levels for process measurements

Conduct pilot tests of the new, redesigned process

Document new desk procedures.

Initiate a re-engineering campaign during stable economic times, preferably during a period of robust organizational performance. Although there might never be a perfect time, it is nevertheless important to consider economic stability. If you institute the re-engineering campaign during rough economic times, the rumor may spread among staff that it is a work force reduction in disguise. Support for redesign could cease, leading to total failure. This is especially true with smaller providers where the grapevine is quick. Avoid rumors and maintain support by making a guarantee against layoffs early in the process, particularly if the timing coincides with an economic slump.

Finally, management should encourage team members to keep in mind that redesign ideas need to transcend the operational, financial, clinical, and marketing objectives of the organization. Stressing both practical and creative considerations during brainstorming sessions will yield valuable results, leading to solutions that will position the organization to meet future challenges, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

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Kenneth D. Eichner P.C.
Certified Public Accountants
2929 Briarpark
Houston, TX 77042
713-781-8892
e-mail: cpa@kdepc.com