Perhaps there was a time when you could argue that revenue cycle management tools were only worthwhile for large practices with big budgets. All that has changed, however. In fact, a small or new practice may benefit disproportionately from having excellent revenue cycle management tools.
But choosing these tools for the small or new practice requires careful consideration, because they're not all alike. Depending on longer term goals for the practice, it's important to select revenue cycle management tools that will scale up with your practice.
Here are 5 considerations to keep in mind when searching for the right revenue cycle management tools for your needs.
1. Analyze the Problem You Are Trying to Solve
If you are looking for an RCM tool you are probably trying to find a solution to an existing problem. If not a problem then you are probably trying to improve a process that just isn't meeting your expectations. First instinct could be to go to Google and search for a tool that solves the issue at hand. As tempting as it is, don't do it.
Investigate the problem further to make sure you fully understand the root of it. Once you've identified the problem and understand the process that needs to take place to fix it, see if it is something an employee can solve or if you really do need a new technology/tool.
2. Take a Close Look at the Technology
Today, there is simply no excuse for revenue cycle management tools that aren't powered by mature and flexible technology. As healthcare reimbursement changes you need to make sure your tool can adapt to the changing environment as well.
A great revenue cycle management solution is powerful enough to drive your practice's business functions, yet flexible enough to work with the processes and procedures that your team uses.
You don't have to give up rich features for adaptability, and you should expect your tools to automate time-consuming tasks, offer informative business analytics, and integrate with other systems, like those of payers.
3. Consider How You Can Automate Your Practice
Think twice (or more) before choosing revenue cycle management tools that require you to revamp work processes.
Review your daily routines and which tasks are repeated most often and which take up the most time. Speak with staff members to learn what tools would make their work more efficient and accurate.
4. Limit the Number of Tools You Use
While it is great to have a revenue cycle tool that helps with a particular problem, you want to be careful or you could end up with tool overload. No one likes to login to 10 different systems a day just to track the progress of one claim. In addition to multiple logins being frustrating, you need to consider if multiple tools is going to be a good idea moving forward.
If you are anticipating your practice to grow, it would make more sense to invest heavily into an advanced practice management system with the functionality you need rather than add on technology you could have otherwise avoided.
Your practice managment system should be able to perform a majority of the functionality you need to successfully carry out the billing process. For those other pieces like online patient pay or advanced reporting, seek out additional tools.
5. Consider a Combination of Cloud Technology and Outsourcing
Smaller or newer practices can benefit greatly from cloud-based revenue cycle management. Initial costs are lower, and cloud solutions can be scaled up quickly should your practice experience a growth spurt. Having that much data on a local server could seriously hinder the growth of your practice.
Some practices elect to combine cloud-hosted revenue cycle management tools with strategic outsourcing to maximize revenue collections and minimize expenses. However, take a few looks at the pricing and contract length before signing.
Weigh the total cost of ownership because hidden costs can erase savings or otherwise offset the benefits of efficiency gains.
Rare is the medical practice today that can operate profitably without multiple revenue cycle management tools. That will be even truer in the future, as payment models continue to evolve and regulatory requirements grow.