Opening an independent medical practice takes savvy, skills and, crucially, money. Many providers have taken the leap into private practice, and in 2020, 49.1% of physicians worked at physician-owned practices. However, the costs of running a practice can be discouraging and at times prohibitive for healthcare professionals. Between paying for an office, staff, equipment and more, costs pile up fast, and there are few corners to cut without sacrificing the efficiency of your practice.
We spoke with Minnesota-based chiropractor Dr. Edward Szklarczuk who found that signing onto the right EHR, practice management and medical billing system helped level the playing field for his practice, True North Chiropractic & Sports Medicine. His practice launched in the summer of 2020, and in that time, he’s kept it lean and efficient on his way to opening a second location. This article takes a closer look at how your electronic health record platform can save your practice money.
Can Reduce Overhead Costs
Though you will have to bake the cost of your EHR software into your budget, you may find that monthly or yearly expense will pay for itself by reducing your other overhead costs. Glassdoor estimates that the average full time front desk staff member in a medical practice costs between $32,000 to $47,000 per year. If your EHR’s practice management features are robust enough, you might be able to automate a lot of that administrative work instead.
When he was developing True North CSM, Dr. Szklarczuk decided to assess the traditionally accepted costs of running a practice to see what was truly essential. He found that using DrChrono’s practice management features gave him enough administrative support to forgo full time front desk staff.
“I joke with my interns at the end of the day to go put our secretary to sleep for the night because it’s an iPad. It’s a $400 device that never calls in sick, never has issues and just works every day,” said Dr. Szklarczuk.
He’s able to use features like the check-in kiosk to streamline patient check-in. Once patients fill out their intake forms on the iPad, their information is input in their records automatically. If your EHR can automatically check for insurance eligibility, that can be another massive time saver.
“Once you populate the proper payer ID code, it will load all their information from the entirety of their insurance, as long as their insurance company subscribes to the database, within four seconds. That traditionally takes chiropractic offices 15 minutes to an hour waiting on the phone.”
Time is the most precious commodity at a small practice. By reducing the amount of time needed to perform administrative tasks, you can save money on staff and open up more time to see patients. To assist with getting patients in the door, make sure that your EHR makes scheduling and rescheduling appointments online easy for your patients.
An EHR that automates or streamlines practice management tasks can make all the difference in the world for a small, independent practice. Finding one with those capabilities is a great start, but medical practitioners can always seek out more.
Can Improve Your Practice’s Billing Efficiency
If you want to maximize your return from your EHR, find one with a powerful suite of medical billing and coding tools. High quality medical billing software can vastly improve the efficiency of your revenue processes. Dr. Szklarczuk found that his billing software streamlined the process of billing insurance.
“When we bill an insurance company, it auto posts every day through the cloud. I use IHFA (also known as RTE or real-time eligibility) as well, which is traditionally done by a front desk staff person. They would be copying, printing and faxing tens of pages of notes at time. Instead, we can send it for $1.50 with IHFA in seconds, and it’s actually processed,” said Dr. Szklarczuk.
Speeding up the process of billing insurance has been a major boon for True North CSM. Now they do not have to pay for staff to plug away at tedious data entry because it’s done automatically. Improving the speed and accuracy of your billing and coding process gets your practice paid faster with fewer issues along the way. Your EMR and medical billing software should also have a billing dashboard where you can track the efficacy of your billing, so that you can squash issues as they arise.
Not every provider will have the time to completely own their billing. In that case, you will be best served by an EHR vendor with an RCM team. That team of billing professionals can even further improve your practice’s revenue cycle management while you focus on taking care of your patients.
No matter what measures you take, running a medical practice is going to be expensive. However, with a little bit of tech savvy and the right EHR, you can reduce costs for your practice without sacrificing much efficiency. As you search for the platform that will power your practice, make sure it has the features you need to succeed. Running with the wrong EHR can ultimately be costly, so invest your time in finding the right one now.