Could your practice benefit from outsourcing?

May 15, 2006

Outsourcing may help meet the needs of non-recurring professional services.

Urologists around the country are concerned about the ability to generate enough revenue to cover inflation and to protect their practice's bottom line from further erosion. In some respects, medicine has become like other typical American businesses in that it has to deal with competitive pricing, regulatory factors, and shrinking profits.

Other businesses have deployed aggressive strategies such as outsourcing to cut costs and improve profit margins. Maybe you should, too!

Outsourcing can be a smart move, helping you to reduce overhead expenses for the practice. Beyond the potential financial advantage, outsourcing provides an alternative way to get your work done.

Reason 1: Added flexibility

Outsourcing offers greater flexibility for fluctuating work demands. Whether the workload increases from time to time due to temporary situations or to a predictable trend, it needs to be addressed or you will either have too much down time or too much overtime. Down time results in idleness and boredom. Overtime results in paying time-and-a-half wages for a long day's work, when productivity has fizzled.

With proper planning, temporary workload changes might be better managed through outsourcing. For example, if you are preparing for computer conversion, the vendor can help you determine the number of hours needed for this purpose. It may be unreasonable to expect current staff to accomplish this, but it's a perfect time to call in a temporary employment service to help with the data entry needs and other conversion requirements for a smooth, timely transition.

Outsourcing offers other advantages when your staffing needs fluctuate, such as in planning a special event or marketing your practice, which could place unrealistic demands on your staff. Consider hiring a public relations firm or an event planner. Not only will the project be completed on time, but you will get the expertise needed to ensure the event is a success. If you want to market, hire a marketing consultant to analyze your practice and the competition and to develop a powerful marketing plan that draws on your strengths and maximizes opportunity.

Reason 2: Automate functions

Outsourcing may allow you to use technology to a greater advantage. Technology provides a wonderful way to purchase added services at a reasonable cost, improving efficiency and consistency while reducing potential errors. Here are a few examples:

Reason 3. Meet special needs

Outsourcing may help meet the needs of non-recurring professional services. The two greatest resources in your practice are you and your office manager. As rainmaker, you bring revenue to the practice by seeing patients and performing surgery. Your manager is largely responsible for managing operations and staff and determining what actions are essential to reach your goals. When the two of you take on challenges for which you lack the time or expertise, you compromise your value to the practice.

By outsourcing specific responsibilities to a human resource or practice management consultant, or a coding and compliance specialist, you bring objectivity to the practice and free you and your manager to focus on what you do best: running the practice and taking care of patients.

Reason 4. Better resource use

Making the best use of resources involves both time management and optimizing physical space. For example, by doing the office laundry on premises, you are paying professional staff to perform tasks that do not require their expertise and that take them from other important tasks. In addition, the floor space consumed by this function could be used to add clinical services and generate revenue.

A number of busy physicians have outsourced the entire billing and collections functions to reduce staffing costs, free office space, and improve collection ratios.