There are different ways to view consultants in business settings: advisors, mentors, counsellors, authorities, guides. Consultants can offer any type of business an objective analysis of the operations of that business. It’s easy to see the connection between consultants and businesses in manufacturing or merchandising. However, service organizations, such as ophthalmology practices, may not see a direct need for ophthalmology consulting. In reality, the highly competitive nature of this field, especially for practices offering elective surgery procedures, makes consulting one of those best kept secrets of highly successful practices.
There are an estimated 700,000 management consultants in the United States, so how on earth does your ophthalmology practice choose the right one? Just as your practice specializes in certain procedures, it is advisable to choose a consultant that specializes in ophthalmology.
When it comes to ophthalmology processes (outside of the actual medical treatments provided), the “devil is in the details,” so to speak. Even if you have the absolute best physicians that provide amazingly accurate vision corrections, your practice will suffer if you don’t have the most efficient processes in place throughout your practice.
4 Efficiency Reasons to Hire an Ophthalmology Consultant
- Billing and Collection
Details: information gathering, eligibility verification, clean claims submissions, payment posting, accounts receivable management
Approximately 25% of all medical practice income is lost due to billing inefficiencies, lack of knowledge in billing intricacies or a lackadaisical or untrustworthy billing staff. Incorrect coding is a common billing snafu. CPT and ICD-10 codes can be very complicated, so keeping up to date with coding updates and learning how to properly document services is of vital importance. Other billing such as underpricing, charges that go unsubmitted, lack of insurance verification and lack of follow-up can cause charges to go unpaid. This all leads to a reduction in revenue for services on which you deserve to receive full payment.
A consultant that specializes in ophthalmology will be able to identify the billing and collection errors that are occurring and make specific recommendations for improvement. The answers may include making difficult decisions to let some staff members go, hire more qualified staff, invest in ongoing training, offer performance incentives or look for external help. The best ophthalmology consultants will also help implement those changes as quickly as possible to get your practice on the path to a healthy revenue flow. Whether you choose to train your internal staff to be better equipped to handle this process or you decide that outsourcing is a better option, you will have the knowledge to know what is broken in your billing cycle so it can be promptly fixed. Some practices are actually surprised to learn how much of their revenue is being lost to inefficient billing and collection processes.
- Clinical Processes
Details: patient access, patient registration, patient flow, staff productivity, space utilization, documentation
As stated earlier, ophthalmology is a fiercely competitive field. The expertise of your physicians matters, of course, but equally as important in your patients’ eyes is how your office operates. The better your office is at streamlining the patient intake process and overall experience in your office, the more favorable you will be viewed by your patients. Overall patient satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) will be shared online for all to read on social media sites, review sites and more.
An industry-specific ophthalmology consultant will have the hands-on expertise of clinical personnel guiding the review process to document how patients experience every aspect of your practice, from initial phone calls to appointment scheduling to office visits to follow-up appointments. Recommendations can be made to help increase productivity, decrease patient wait times and simplify registration processes. This may include increasing or decreasing staff in certain areas, changing how your physical office space and exam rooms are used, changing processes to help physicians make better use of their time, etc. It’s all to easy to become too comfortable in a patient flow and processes you have used for years; accepting change may be difficult at first but extremely profitable in the long run.
Again, the best ophthalmology consultants will also help implement their recommendations in your office in a timely manner.
- EPM/EHR Selection/Implementation
Details: strategic planning, needs assessment, vendor selection, implementation
As a medical professional, your expertise probably doesn’t extend to information technology. Even if it does, you probably don’t have the time to devote to the extensive and sometimes overwhelming process of incorporating Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) and Electronic Health Record (EHR) software into your practice. Acting too hastily in your selection of an EPM/EHR system can result in frustrations and revenue loss if the system doesn’t meet your needs. Much to everyone’s dismay, the process may have to be repeated again in the future.
By hiring an ophthalmology consultant that is truly up-to-date on meaningful use standards, HIPAA compliance and a whole host of other specifics, your practice will be better equipped to receive incentive payments. In fact, the prompt implementation of the right system will not only boost your revenue but improve your overall patient satisfaction as well. When you look for an external provider to help with EPM/EHR systems, be sure to choose one that has a good track record of success for other practices similar to yours. The best ophthalmology consultants will be able to help with every single step in this process, from planning to implementation to ongoing management.
- Organizational & Management Structure
Details: human resources, fiscal, corporate culture, interim personnel, succession planning
Medical practices don’t always like to consider themselves a complex business. After all, exceptional patient care is truly the goal for any ophthalmology practice. However, if the foundation of your organization is not solid, you cannot begin to build a strong patient experience. Your organizational and managerial structures need to be strong, effective and forward-thinking.
A consultant that specializes in ophthalmology can bring an outsider’s point-of-view to your internal structures to help identify pitfalls you may not realize exist. Is the organizational structure benefitting your bottom line? Are your employees happy and motivated? Are your revenues as high as they can possibly be? Is your management focused on patient care as well as staff care? Do you have strategic plans for future growth or personnel changes? All of these questions can be asked and answered, with recommendations to smooth any pitfalls that exist. The best ophthalmology consultants will have the tools and resources to implement changes right in your office.
Ophthalmology Consultants are Just a Click Away
Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, is a seasoned ophthalmology consultant that offers not only a report of our findings but also incredible levels of implementation for our clients. We understand that it’s often difficult to have an outsider come in to identify problem areas, but we also tell our clients that our feedback has helped hundreds of practices (all sizes, rural, urban, etc.) boost their bottom lines. Customization is the name of the game for our organization: every practice is given a fresh eye, unique recommendations and custom implementation with the least amount of upheaval in your office. To learn more about how Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, can help your ophthalmology practice grow, contact us today.