Physicians Practice Pearls: Outsource Your Pain

April 1, 2008

If staff is overloaded, it may be time to consider outsourcing some of their tasks. Here’s a look at the options.


Even the best staff has its limits if a practice is growing. Sometimes you need help getting the job done. Outsourcing might be the solution. Consider using these experts:

  • Consultant - Often physicians and managers put off important projects (such as formulating an overall strategic plan) because they must contend with so many opposing priorities. Certainly, management staff should be heavily involved in such critical planning, but do they have time to do the upfront research and analysis, prepare reports, and facilitate a strategic planning retreat? Hire an expert whose advice and recommendations will provide the critical direction you need.

  • Event planner - Speaking of planning a retreat (or seminars and other events), why not hire an event planner to handle the arrangements and all those pesky little details?

  • Payroll service with direct deposit - Some will even track accumulated paid time off. If you already use a service but you still must manually type employee hours into a spreadsheet for the service’s use, consider switching to a time clock that automatically uploads employee time records.

  • Temp service - If you have a short-term administrative need that would unduly tax your already-busy staff, such as a computer conversion, consider using a temp service for data entry and other “grunt work.” This will ensure a timely conversion without compromising your work flow or patient care.

  • Billing service - Feel like you’re continuously chasing rainbows? Maybe you should just let someone else do it. A billing service will take a cut off the top of what it collects for you (6 percent, give or take). But if they don’t produce, they don’t get paid. This keeps them highly motivated to collect your revenue. If they can raise your collections beyond your current rate (and their fee), why not?

  • PR firm - A public relations specialist can get you valuable exposure for increased visibility and connection to your community, while also projecting a consistent image and message. If building such relations is a priority for your practice, then tapping into a PR firm’s expertise might be the best way to go.

Whether you have a one-time job (renovating the office) or a vital daily task (working delinquent accounts) that is falling behind, you can find a good outsourced match for your needs. Poll your colleagues, research services on the Internet, and explore annual conference exhibit halls. If you recently heard a speaker you really liked, or if you read an article by someone whose services align with your needs and your philosophies, visit her Web site and ask for references.

Of course, you should carefully monitor the vendors taking on your outsourced tasks, especially for long-term projects. For the first 90 days, closely inspect results, and hold the vendor accountable for any variations from the promised outcome. Still satisfied? Then just periodically spot-check so you stay in control, and never sacrifice quality for convenience.

Judy Capko is a healthcare consultant with more than 20 years of experience. Her emphasis is on improving practice performance by valuing staff, building patient-centered strategies, and making the most of resources. She can be reached at judy@capko.com.

This article originally appeared in the April 2008 issue of Physicians Practice.