Physicians once had to bring expensive equipment into their offices in order to offer ancillary services, but Graham says this is no longer the case, allowing bottom lines to avoid a massive hit. "The companies providing these services have gotten more creative. They offer physicians better leasing options," says Graham. Another way for physicians to save is having the necessary software added to their already existing technology, he adds.
Which services make the most sense to add?
It can be difficult to choose which services, if any, a practice should add. Weiss suggests physicians look into preventative ones first. "Insurance companies are moving toward a value-based evaluation model with physicians. If you're being rewarded for keeping patients healthy, preventative services are important," he says.
Weiss has seen success with practices that add mobile mammography specifically. "It's a preventative service all women can use. I would also suggest practices add chronic care management, transitional care management, and ultrasound." he adds.
A practice should also look at its work flow prior to adding any type of ancillary service. "Can the practice fit the service into its work flow? [Good] ancillary services don't add an inordinate amount of time to the patient visit," says Graham.
Graham also suggests looking to add services that may be hard to patients for access otherwise. "For example, allergists are few and far between, so a patient may have to drive a long way if not provided at their primary doctor's office," he says.
Will the service be useful to the patient population?
Ancillary services can often save patients time, while providing added convenience and incentive for patients to remain or join a practice. "Your patients don't need to go to an outside lab where they don't know the staff. It creates a nice environment for the patient," says Rahman, who adds patients benefit from a practice's ability to control the cost of in-house ancillary services.
"Think of it this way, if you're a standalone imaging center, you're going to maximize your revenue because there's nothing else coming in to support the business. But if it's a supporting service line, the fees [for patients] can go down," he says.
When it comes to choosing ancillaries, Graham preaches the importance of knowing not only a practices population size, but also their demographics.
"Practices need to determine whether or not they have the requisite demographic to truly benefit from the service. Obviously the service needs to be a reasonable and necessary one, something the practice wants to provide to its patients, and that the patients want," says Graham.