As a medical transcription company that helps physicians manage their demanding documentation tasks, we are aware of the problems of running a practice. While the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) allows clinicians to deliver better care, improve efficiency, and control costs, new technology presents many challenges. With 2020 around the corner, physicians need to take a look at their past experiences with health IT, revenue cycle management, and other matters, and set realistic goals for a stronger year ahead. Here are six strategies to prepare your practice for 2020:
- Review your business plan: With changes in the way care is delivered, value-based initiatives, enhanced technology, and the ever-changing regulatory environment, nothing is possible without solid planning. Most practices would already have a plan in place for 2020. Take time to review your plan and prioritize your most important goals. Review important things such as patient volume, charges, collections, accounts receivable and overheads. Do a S.W.O.T. (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. Having a clear idea about where you stand will help you determine what you should prioritize in the coming year(s). Put your business priorities down in writing.
- Set practical goals: A practical goal is one that is achievable. Identifying your obstacles and challenges can help you set realistic goals. Potential challenges may include attracting and retaining patients, cash flow problems, hiring good employees, and better training for staff. Once the key concerns are identified, it will become easier to overcome them and set attainable goals. Things to remember when setting goals:
- Focus on two or three meaningful goals
- Set engaging but pragmatic goals
- Review goals regularly
- Set a timeline to achieve them
- Understand technological advances and consider adoption: As a Physicians Practice article notes, virtual visits are becoming an everyday reality. The American Well 2019 physician survey found that virtual visits increased 340 percent in recent years. Telemedicine is cost-effective, offers convenience and expands access to care, and builds closer relationships with patients. With a promising reimbursement landscape and the industry’s vision to expand telehealth use, the stage is set for telehealth’s huge growth in the future. Practices that do not offer access to virtual care need to consider if it is a viable addition, or face the risk of losing patients who expect telemedicine services. Machine learning, AI, and apps are other technologies impacting healthcare and practices need to consider whether investing in these options can benefit them and their patients.
- Encourage staff involvement and input: In addition to physicians and managers, a medical practice team would include nurses and other clinicians, front office representatives, medical transcription service providers, billing and coding staff, and other ancillary service providers. Developing a strategic direction for the practice would require input from everyone. A recent Medical Economics article notes that planning discussions should foster rigorous discussion and questions about the direction of the practice. Airing divergent perspectives, information and ideas is crucial to reach a consensus. Frequent and effective communication is especially important to build trust, share accountability, and foster a culture to achieve the shared vision. Each individual should understand their contribution and work towards to achieving the goal – both in their own job and as a member of the team. Physicians should empower their staff and ensure they have the tools and resources to achieve their objectives.
- Review and update your strategic plan: Since the healthcare environment is constantly evolving, you may need to refine specific strategies and goals to meet changing circumstances during the year. Best practice is to proceed with the strategic plan as designed, but review it periodically to determine things that need to be changed, and be flexible to implement modifications as necessary. Deviating from the plan is a constructive way of rethinking original goals and setting new ones.
- Have a system to track progress: Strategic planning also requires have a robust system in place to track and analyze progress and performance. Tracking and monitoring outcomes on a regular basis will help you understand if goals can be achieved.
One inevitable trend in 2020 and beyond is role that technology will continue to play in transforming the healthcare industry. However, as a recent Physicians Practice article reports, one key take-away from health technology is that it has not yet improved the time that physicians spend with patients. According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, doctors spend, on average, just 27 percent of their time treating patients and more than 70 percent of their time on administrative, non-billable tasks, such as answering patient calls and returning messages or replying to emails. EHR data entry is another time-consuming task that affects the patient encounter and also leads to physician burnout and stress. Outsourced medical transcription services are the answer to these concerns. A reliable HIPAA-compliant medical transcription company can ensure accurate and timely EHR-integrated dictation reports.
As you put 2020 objectives in place, it’s important to remember that there are no hard and fast goal-setting rules that fit every practice’s needs. The bottom line: set realistic goals and provide your team with the information and tools needed to achieve them.