In-House, or Out?: The Outsourcing Question
You are an independent physician. You could have parlayed your skill set into a gig at a large hospital, or as concierge doctor to the wealthy elite of Beverly Hills, or the Hamptons (well, maybe your chances at the former were better than the latter), but you chose to open and run your own private practice. What makes the life of the independent physician so alluring in the face of so much constant change, and difficulty?
The independence. The idea of being in total control is a very attractive one for a doctor, and for good reason. You’ve assembled a tremendously talented and driven staff that you trust implicitly, and there is nothing your team cannot handle. Unless, of course, there is. The willingness to take on multiple tasks is one thing, but the ability to complete them in a timely and accurate manner is another. To compensate for certain daily demands inherent in private practice, many physicians have chosen to outsource certain tasks to third-party companies.
This is a polarizing issue for many, and often comes down to both trust, and your bottom line. There are pros and cons to be sure, but outsourcing eases the pressure on your current staff, allows them to focus their time on their primary jobs, and can save you money by not having to pay for the constant overtime. They are “use as needed” services. You pay for what you need, when you need it. Let’s take a look at some of the most common outsourced jobs.
This one is probably the most obvious. Trying to handle IT-related glitches at your practice, even if a staff-member has some savvy in the field, can still be very time-consuming. An IT consultant will not only fix hardware and software problems, they will let you know what changes need to be made going forward to remain efficient. Might that mean a full hardware overhaul? Maybe. Maybe not. The point is that you can benefit from having an expert let you know if outfitting your office with brand-new PCs is really the best use of your funds.
An upgrade in technology brings with it newfound efficiency across the board. It also brings with it the responsibility of training each staff member on new machines or software, and training sessions must be customized to fit the function of each employee. Remember, everyone learns at a different pace, and some are more adept at IT stuff than others. Does this sound like a daunting task? It won’t be for a third-party expert. Professional IT consultants have trained hundreds, if not thousands of people, and can save you a lot of time and frustration by bringing your team up to speed.
We’ve discussed the importance of having a talented billing and claims specialist on your staff in previous posts. But if your practice isn’t large enough to warrant an actual billing department, or you simply cannot afford to hire an RCM-wiz (much less afford to pay your receptionist the requisite overtime, or give them the extra office space they would likely need), then a third-party billing company can be your best option.
Due to the nature of the work, high employment turnover is common, another reason to farm out billing and claims. These companies don’t just do a “dull job” for you. They also provide you with accurate data concerning where your practice is excelling, and where it is not.
One thing to reiterate about billing and payroll services is that they do not represent fixed expenses; rather, they are use-as-needed. They also afford you two intangible, yet very important luxuries: time, and space.
Marketing & Management
Marketing your practice is a very important, ongoing process, much of which is done in the digital realm. Social media strategy is a large component, and must be updated consistently. You might be thinking, why pay somebody to post things to my practice’s Facebook page? Can’t I do that myself? The answer is yes, you certainly could. But social media marketing is a constantly evolving job, and so is the messaging used.
You understand that, based on your geographic location and other factors, you will be targeting specific demographics. Do you know which ones, exactly? How do you plan on targeting them? What kind of promotions, or events do you plan on executing? (It’s alright to admit it if you haven’t given the latter much thought. You wouldn’t be the first.) If none of your staff have marketing experience, then outsourcing it is vital, and can be a boon for your practice’s advertising.
Another boon, a real life-preserver, in many ways, is outsourced management services. Even practices with an in-house office manager can experience overload, or problems they can diagnose, but can’t seem to adequately address. Part of the problem is in finding the root cause, and a regular staff-member may be “too close” to see it. If accountability in other staffers is the problem, it may be hard for you, or your manager to remain objective. Having a neutral party identify and fix these problems lessens the likelihood of fallout between staff, ensuring that each day runs as smoothly as the last.
If you are considering the outsourcing option but are on the fence about it, remember something: the choice to outsource certain time consuming and highly technical tasks to a third party or not is just another way of executing your freedom as an independent physician. You aren’t relinquishing control, you are taking control. Is it possible to cross-train your staff to successfully handle multiple functions? Yes. Is it wise? Well, that’s up to you to figure out.
Examine your payroll over the last several months. Do some math. Then do some good old fashioned consumer research, and make a decision. By gaging your office’s needs and researching various third party companies, you are embracing your responsibility as the head of your practice. This is what you wanted, after all.
| HCRC Staffing | Brian@hcrcstaffing.com | www.hcrcstaffing.com