The Healthcare reform is pushing healthcare organizations to follow a more quality based reimbursement model vs. quantity based. It’s imperative that being in the business of serving patients, the quality of care carries supreme importance. While every center wants to provide quality services, there are aspects by which quality may sometimes be compromised – increasing patient volume, lack of resources, the time spent behind each patient visit. It’s the need of the hour for centers to do things differently and here are some thoughts.
Build a lean organization. Go back to the drawing board and lay down your entire operations. Map the number of resources associated with each process and outline their responsibilities. This exercise will give you clarity on everyday resource utilization. You will get answers to questions such as – do we actually need four full time resources at the front-desk? Can the process be managed with just two?
Identify the gaps. The operations outline exercise will also help you identify process gaps within your surgery center. Say a patient comes to the surgery center for a particular visit, simulate the entire visit from the time patient registers an appointment to the time the claim is billed and note down the gaps in the process. The gaps can be pre-visit related like prior eligibility and authorizations, or during a visit like wait times, transfer from one room to the other, or can also be post-visit like same day claims submission, patient resources and medications. Fix the gaps to build an optimized operational flow.
Use technology where possible. The main advantage of using technology is it frees up time and resources which could have been used to do more meaningful tasks. Consider your billing for instance, how many resources have you allocated? Are they coding, proofreading, submitting your claims daily? Is simply submitting claims challenging enough for their capabilities? Ambulatory surgery centers should evaluate the possibilities of automating aspects of their revenue cycle management. Whether, collaborating with companies that provide automated services or building a software system in-house, technology can be used to remove redundancy.
Track and measure from every aspect. While there is a significant need for surgery centers to change the way they function, it is equally important to measure and track each aspect of the business. How has the center performed this quarter compared to previous quarters? How have the reimbursements changed? What contributed to the fluctuations in the reimbursement model? How effective is the inventory management? Surgery centers and business owners need to have a centralized way to measure progress across different metrics. They can invest in software systems that can crunch essential numbers automatically and provide executable insights.
Once you’ve built a lean organization, optimized your operations, have leveraged technology and start tracking every aspect, you have more time for your patients. The quality of focus on patients is to a greater degree with the operational bottlenecks out of the way. The process cannot be changed overnight, but once that is done it becomes a self sustaining model. Cost reduces, patients are happy and the center operates more seamlessly.