We are clearly in an era marked by the consolidation of healthcare services into fewer but larger providers, involving not only hospital systems but physician groups as well. Radiology practices are not immune to this trend. The study Radiology Practice Consolidation: Fewer but Bigger Groups Over Time published in April by the Journal of the American College of Radiology shows that practices consisting of 100 or more radiologists grew significantly between 2014 and 2018, while practices of fewer than 100 radiologists declined. There are many reasons local practices feel the need to become larger, but at the same time there is usually a lot of trepidation among the physicians about joining with another organization. Before jumping on the merger bandwagon, be sure you’ve considered the ways you can achieve your goals while remaining independent.
Undoubtedly you have heard the phrase, “consumerism in healthcare” but is that something that we really want, as practice administrators, as hospitalists, as physicians? Because with true consumerism, healthcare delivery will shift to a true retail business, manifested amidst quality, price and location shopping. Within radiology and other healthcare specialties, there is now greater transparency including widespread utilization of pre-service price estimators and physician quality scores published on Medicare’s Physician Compare website, vitals.com and zocdoc.com, among others. However, a potentially more hidden precept of the retail business that is forthcoming is the patient refund.
HAP has long advised our clients and blog readers to utilize technology to enhance the revenue cycle process. Our article The Importance of Accepting Electronic Payments at Your Radiology Practice is the most recent, but electronic transactions have also been highlighted in our Best Practices in Radiology Patient Billing article. Most practices today accept credit or debit cards in one way or another, but they might not be aware of the need for security protocols surrounding them.
In our article Best Practices in Radiology Patient Billing, we identified a greater focus on practice billing processes as a critical element in improving patients’ satisfaction with the practice, and we encouraged practices to accept electronic payments. According to the InstaMed Trends in Healthcare Payments Eighth Annual Report 2017 released in May 2018, “Consumer loyalty is increasingly tied to the healthcare payments experience as 65 percent of consumers would consider switching healthcare providers for a better healthcare payments experience.”
In today’s healthcare landscape, patients are paying more out-of-pocket for services than ever before. The numbers of people with high deductible health plans and those who are uninsured have risen; often leaving patients with large medical bills and providers struggling to collect the money they are owed.