The COVID-19 pandemic definitely shined a spotlight on the topic of burnout, especially among providers and staff working in hospitals or first-responder environments. Now, as the pandemic winds down, these healthcare workers are finally starting to experience a bit of relief. However, for providers in specialty practices, the opposite is occurring. Workloads for specialty practices are actually ramping up now, as patients feel safe enough to return for elective procedures that were delayed during the pandemic. Sadly, specialty providers have already been ranked among the top sufferers of burnout for over five years now. This is why it is so important for specialty practices to address burnout now, to avoid allowing this new surge to damage productivity.
While EHR and Practice Management solutions have become essential to practice success over the last decade, there are still practices that are not using fully integrated systems. Some practices are using a Practice Management solution while still relying on paper records. Others have EHR and Practice Management (EHR/PM) systems that are not seamlessly integrated because they come from different vendors.
While data can be useful, it is sometimes difficult to know exactly what data your practice should be tracking. Specific data points are often referred to as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). But what are KPIs? By definition, KPIs are metrics that are directly aligned with your business goals and tracking them allows you to measure how successful your current efforts are at achieving your objectives.
Healthcare is experiencing a shift, expedited by the pandemic, from provider-driven to consumer-driven strategies, and what matters most to patients is convenience. Consumer insights company NRC Health reports that 80 percent of patients choose a provider based solely on factors of convenience, outpacing reputation, care quality, bedside manner and even insurance coverage.
No matter whether your practice is small or large, creating a Quality Improvement Team can provide the ability to remain viable in today’s rapidly changing healthcare landscape. Practices now face penalties up to 9 percent for 2020 and 2021 (an increase of 5 percent from when MIPS started) for poorly demonstrated performance. These penalties will only increase as the years go on, reaching 11 percent by the end of 2023. However, for practices that are able to properly demonstrate high quality and value, bonus potential continues to rise as well. In addition to MIPS, many insurance companies offer incentive programs with significant bonuses based on demonstration of high quality and value in a practice.
With EHR systems on the rise, the need for medical scribes has rocketed to an all time high. While some providers feel comfortable documenting their own medical encounters, the majority have incorporated medical scribes to document while they tend to patients, allowing for more face time. This rise in demand has left practices scrambling to acquire or train more scribes. Yet another element of difficulty, in the current healthcare landscape, is that many practices are also still struggling with staffing issues as a result of furloughs brought on by COVID-19. Training and promoting in-house seems like the clear solution, but it is often a difficult task due to the amount of time required to train each individual, as well as the lack of organization and consistency behind the training.
Between seemingly endless rounds of phone tag and piles of paperwork, traditional workflows are tedious. Not only that, they ultimately create a negative patient experience, too. Neither scenario is good for business. Let’s look at some numbers:
If the first few months of 2020 taught healthcare professionals anything, it’s that they were not nearly as well prepared to handle unexpected crises as they probably thought they were. With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, a serious economic crisis, a global increase in civil unrest, extreme weather from climate change, murder hornets in the U.S. and now cannibal rats devouring each other in large cities (because that might as well happen too, right?), it seems unexpected risks are coming from new directions almost daily.