While healthcare tends to outperform other industries when faced with economic headwinds, healthcare practices are not entirely immune to a recession.
Amid inflation and recession concerns, organizations are cutting back on IT spending. While healthcare tends to outperform other industries when faced with economic headwinds, healthcare practices are not entirely immune to a recession. Smaller offices with fewer resources, staff members and revenue are the most susceptible to potential difficulties.
So where can healthcare providers trim spending during a time when technological advancement and increased investments in IT are crucial to future success? Evaluating your tech stack with a bias toward ROI is key. Which tools deliver the most value per dollar of expense? Which ones make the lives of your staff and patients easier and their jobs more efficient? This approach will result in time and cost savings, optimized patient scheduling, more efficient payment processing and an improved experience for both staff and patients.
Tackling tedious administrative processes
Many healthcare offices operate with incompatible phone, email and appointment-scheduling systems. This confuses communication processes and creates complicated, time-consuming administrative work that can ultimately damage the patient experience and cost the practice time and money.
When encumbered with time-consuming administrative tasks, staff members can become bogged down with scheduling or sending appointment reminders and intake forms. For example, manually scheduling appointments requires hours spent calling patients and arranging – then rearranging – various time slots. While this time should be spent on more valuable tasks, scheduling is often the most immediate need. And while this is happening, patients are lining up in your clinic, waiting for staff to finish their phone call before getting assistance.
Some offices may manage this issue by assigning two or three staff members to the front desk simultaneously, with one person primarily focused on calls as the others work with in-office patients during busy hours. However, healthcare offices are notably short-staffed of late, making it more difficult and expensive to adequately staff the office. To solve this problem, offices should integrate a patient communication and scheduling system that helps minimize the workload on staff members by using automated messaging to connect with patients through texts, emails, and phone calls.
In times of economic uncertainty, cost is a top factor in selecting the right technology, and small practices must focus investments on solutions that provide the best ROI. However, a return on investment doesn’t solely mean a dollar amount – organizations also need to prioritize investments that keep staff happy and fulfilled while avoiding implementing strenuous processes that can lead to burnout. It’s crucial to retain employees, especially because losing staff means an added workload for those who remain, as well as the burden of finding and training replacements.
Eliminating waste and uncovering value
Another way to reduce costs during times of economic uncertainty is to identify areas of wasted IT spending. Take a step back to get a holistic view of the software your practice uses – are you operating on several costly, incongruous systems that clutter operations and unnecessarily inflate your spending? If so, you’ll want to identify areas to trim the budget and instead implement a cohesive, all-in-one solution.
As you identify areas to reduce spending, you’ll also want to identify tools that will have a tangible impact on your bottom line – solutions that best reduce the administrative burden on healthcare staff. Automation of tedious, time-consuming tasks is key to running an office efficiently and allowing staff to focus on more valuable and fulfilling responsibilities – in turn, providing enhanced patient experiences. Reducing manual processes and streamlining front-office operations is essential for success in today’s quickly-evolving healthcare industry, especially as more and more patients expect providers to offer digital tools for scheduling and communication.
Tasks such as scheduling appointments and managing forms can be accomplished through easy-to-use digital platforms. For employees, this means streamlined administrative processes and paperwork, as well as more time to focus on providing patients with personalized care and other value-added services. For patients, this means better control over their schedule and easier access to medical forms. Many of these platforms also offer patients fast connections to their providers, allowing them to message doctors’ offices directly or pay for services via text and mobile pay. Overall, the right tools lead to a largely improved staff and patient experience and save clinics and patients time and money.
The past two and a half years have proven extremely challenging for the healthcare industry. To remain competitive and stay afloat, small healthcare practices need to take crucial steps to ensure they’re taking advantage of tools that improve their bottom line and overall employee and patient satisfaction. By evaluating software and identifying ways to best streamline and automate tasks, these offices can uncover immense value for their practice and their patients.
Branden Neish is the Chief Product Officer at Weave. As a growth-minded product leader, Branden has added significant value to businesses through product design, development, and transformation.