5 ways to leverage your EHR and increase topline revenue
According to one recent report, the future looks unsteady for small primary care practices with 10 doctors or fewer. In fact, more than a quarter of those surveyed could foresee themselves closing up shop within the next year, according to the survey from MDLinx.
"Declining reimbursements and rising overhead costs, as usual, are to blame," said Steven Ferguson, patient management officer at Hello Health. "So what is a doctor in a small independent practice to do? One place to start looking for solutions is their in-practice technology stack – starting with their EHR.
"Yes, the EHR," Ferguson continued. "Long considered to be that unfortunate cost center that doctors have had to grin and bear, or try to avoid completely. But what if we changed that paradigm? What if we turned a cost center into a revenue center? Most doctors don’t believe us, but it’s something we’ve been doing successfully in a growing number of practices."
Ferguson outlined five ways to leverage your EHR and increase topline revenue.
1. Patient subscriptions. According to Ferguson, doctors and their front office, back office, PAs, and billers all have access to the EHR. "In fact, it's required for them," he said. "But what about the patients? Aren’t they kind of important in this circle of care? Shouldn't they be connected to the practice as well? Wouldn't it make sense for the practice to communicate with them using today's tools?" Ferguson added that there is a way to both achieve this and generate new revenue for a practice. "Doctors, after all, are to provide a new service with new benefits, so patients won't mind paying a few cents a day – and voila, new revenue."
2. Referral to specialists. "Primary care doctors are, in many ways, the gatekeepers to the larger healthcare system," said Ferguson. "They make a lot of initial diagnoses and then refer patients to specialists for everything from glaucoma to gout." The referral process, he said, places an administrative burden on the referring physician. "If the correct information doesn't get into the correct hands, then more work has to be done to get all the information squared away," he said. A solution, he suggests? Having the ability to share referral information in a timely manner. "The benefit to the specialist is a cleaner hand-off when new patients are referred into the practice, which means less administrative back and forth with the referring physician's staff."