Thinking about outsourcing? Read this first. Practices need to balance short-term savings with long-term costs.
Thinking about outsourcing? Read this first. Practices need to balance short-term savings with long-term costs.Read more hereÂ
1. Task criticality
A task that is critical to your practice’s everyday operations, such as medical billing or IT support, may be better managed by external experts than practice employees. But when a job is vital to your business, whether and how you entrust it to an outside organization deserves very thorough evaluation. The most critical business tasks are often the most complex. That means it might not be easy to switch from one outsourced solution to another if you discover you havn’t made the right choice at the start.
Task critically (cont.)
Also consider whether a task could become more important as the need for it grows. For example, when Medicare rolled out the chronic care management reimbursement, firms sprang up to offer outsourcing solution to practices that were daunted by the documentation and workflow changes required to participate. But practices that invested the time to develop the needed skills in-house may have positioned themselves to take better advantage of the program over the long haul.
2. Impact on patients
Some roles that are candidates for outsourcing involve considerable direct contact with patients. For example, billers may be responsible for collecting from patients and may even make day-to-day decisions on write-offs and transfers of accounts to collections. These interactions can have profound a impact on your patient relationships. Before committing to any outsourced arrangement, be sure it’s clear exactly what responsibilities your contract covers and how they’ll be executed. If there are any tasks your own staff can handle more effectively, explore carving them out of your outsourcing agreement.
3. Talent availability
For some roles a practice needs to fill, the market may be so competitive that outsourcing is the only reasonable option to fill those key functions. Still, don’t assume you’re settling. Outsourcing can be a way to tap a broader talent pool without incurring the higher cost and risk of bringing on additional full-time employees.
4. Day-to-day management
One of the biggest mistakes both practices and outsourcing partners often make is assuming outsourcing means offloading. Effective outsourcing doesn’t mean handing off responsibility - no matter how carefully you’ve chosen your contractors. Your outsourcing partner can’t do their best without your input, support and oversight.
Consider, for example, outsourced billing. How can billers prevent denials for bad registration or be sure that patients are informed about their financial responsibility in advance without help from your front desk and schedulers? Similarly, if you’re not working closely with your bookkeeper, your IT consultants or your social media firm, you could miss out on opportunities to save money, improve efficiency and provide better customer service.
Some tasks you may wish to outsource carry liability. For example, an IT firm managing your computers and network has direct responsibility for your data’s safety. Make sure any outsourcing partner you consider working with has clear policies to comply with laws such as HIPAA that can affect your practice (and potentially put you at risk).
Outsourcing certain tasks may be the best approach for your practice today, but that what about a year or two from now? Depending on your practice’s plans and growth trajectory, bringing those same tasks in house might make more sense down the road. Be sure your contracts allow you to change in the future - and that you’re choosing partners and platforms with that possibility in mind.