One of the biggest complaints patients have with their physicians is feeling rushed when they come in for an appointment. After all, they’re seeking help for a medical problem they’re dealing with, only to find that they don’t have enough time to have a complete conversation about what they’ve been going through.
On the other hand, physicians are increasingly frustrated with the seemingly endless paperwork and administrative burdens associated with running a private practice. They opened up their practice to help people, only to find they spend countless hours every week dealing with monotonous tasks.
Luckily for both patients and physicians, there’s a solution that could help fix both of these problems. The answer? Physician Practice Management Services.
What exactly are PPM services, and how do they work? What are the benefits of using them, along with the potential drawbacks? Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.
What Are Physician Practice Management Services?
Physician Practice Management (PPM) services are organizations or companies that offer specialized operational and administrative support to physicians and their practices. These services are specifically designed to optimize and streamline all of the processes that go into running a medical practice. With the right PPM, physicians have the time and space to focus more on patient care and less on the burden of administrative tasks.
Physicians who run a private practice often struggle with balancing spending time with patients and dealing with staff management concerns and administrative tasks. PPM can help take some responsibilities off the plates of busy physicians, with many of these companies offering services such as:
- Operations management
- HR administration
- Claims filing and follow-up
- Practice marketing
- Financial services
- Compliance and liability reduction
- Practice expansion and relocation
- Startup support
As we all know, there’s simply only so much time in the day. Physicians who run a private practice can end up spending more time with their patients when they utilize the services of a reputable PPM.
How Do Physician Practice Management Services Work?
In some ways, you can think of a PPM as having another employee. Tasks and jobs are delegated to them so that your time is freed up to deal with more pressing matters, like spending time with your patients.
When you hire a PPM company, you aren’t handing over authority to an outside party. Instead, you’re simply delegating specific tasks to them so you don’t have to handle them on your own.
You are, essentially, outsourcing the operational tasks and administrative burdens to these companies so you can streamline your practice, reduce costs, improve efficiency, and enhance patient satisfaction and care.
Now, let’s take a more detailed look at how these services usually work:
- Offering administrative support: Tasks such as coding, billing, appointment scheduling, insurance claims processing, and managing patient records can be handled by a PPM company. They already have a dedicated staff that is well-versed in the realm of medical coding and billing regulations, so you can’t rest assured that submissions are made accurately and in a timely manner to insurance companies.
- Technology integration: It’s common for PPM services to offer software for electronic health records and practice management. If they don’t provide their own software, they will likely have a recommendation for the software that would best help improve efficiency and streamline workflows in your office.
- Revenue cycle management: Many PPM services will monitor and optimize the entire revenue cycle to help maximize revenue for private practices. They will track the entire process, including patient registration, insurance verification, claim submission, payment posting, and follow-up after delayed or denied payments.
- Cost management: One area that can easily get overlooked when a physician is running their own practice is cost management. PPM services can help physicians discover where to reduce or better manage costs, helping ensure the practice is as financially successful as possible.
- Regulatory and compliance support: Another offering from PPM services that can greatly help physicians is support when it comes to regulations and compliance. Considering that these regulations can change over time, having assistance from a PPM company can help physicians ensure they remain compliant with various healthcare regulations and laws.
- HR support: Some Physician Practice Management services will also handle tasks typically handled by the human resources department. These can include responsibilities such as staff recruitment, payroll processing, and training.
- Practice analytics and reporting: Many PPM companies will also provide data analytics and reporting, which can give valuable insights into patient flow, practice performance, and financial metrics. Through these reports, physicians can learn vital stats about their business and make informed decisions in order to grow their practice further.
- Contracting and credentialing: PPM services can also help doctors negotiate contracts with insurance companies and get credentialed with different providers.
- Offering tailored solutions: Depending on the PPM service you choose, you’ll find that some will design a suite of services that suit the needs of your particular private practice. With this type of company, doctors can choose how much support they want to outsource to a PPM company.
- Strategic planning and consulting: Some (though not all) PPM companies will also offer strategic planning and consulting services. This can help them address specific obstacles, expand services, and grow their practice.
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The Benefits of Physician Practice Management Services
There are many compelling reasons to outsource some of your practice’s repetitive and administrative tasks to a PPM service. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits you could enjoy if you found the right company for your practice.
Perhaps the most glaring benefit of investing in PPM services is that it helps to streamline your workflow. Everything happens more efficiently when you use a reputable PPM service, including scheduling, billing, intake, and more.
Every minute that you don’t have to deal with administrative tasks is another minute you can put toward something more important– providing the best possible patient care. The right service can allow you to focus less on paperwork, leading to more efficient practice and increased productivity.
Potential to Provide Cost Savings
Though it might sound strange that hiring people outside your practice to deal with administrative tasks would save you money, the truth is this is very likely the case.
Outsourcing essential functions of your business can be much more affordable than managing them in-house, as this type of company typically has expertise and economies of scale that let them deal with tasks quickly and cheaply.
Ample Access to Expertise
Physician Practice Management companies will usually employ a team of professionals specializing in various areas of healthcare administration, including coding, billing, compliance, and more.
If you’re worried that outsourcing could reduce the quality of regulation adherence and coding accuracy, for instance, the truth is that choosing a well-regarded PPM can boost efficiency and reduce costly errors.
If you’re still manually doing tasks that could be automated, it’s time to step back and ask yourself why. You don’t necessarily need a Physician Practice Management Service to automate repetitive tasks, but using one of these services can offer enhanced automation.
Things like intake, scheduling, and insurance verification don’t need to require you to start from square one every time. There are plenty of tools out there that are specifically designed to automate healthcare tasks, saving you tons of time.
Physician Practice Management Services can also help improve your entire billing system. When you’re using software that utilizes integrated technology, providers can much more easily verify eligibility, verify insurance, and collect patient payments.
If billing is one of the things that has given you headaches in the past, hiring a PPM company can be an absolute game-changer.
Another benefit of a PPM service is that it can help you achieve a greater level of organization. You can easily keep track of every essential detail of your practice through digital processes and automated tools.
As the old Ben Franklin quote goes, “For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.”
Increase in the Quality of Patient Care
It can feel pretty frustrating to start a private practice only to feel like you spend all of your time dealing with administrative tasks. Perhaps one of the most powerful reasons one might choose to outsource to one of these companies is to allow physicians to get back to what really matters to them– providing a greater quality of care to their patients.
Not only does this mean doctors can have more time to spend with their patients, but it also means they aren’t half distracted by the paperwork they were working on moments before visiting a patient. They can afford to spend more of their time focused on the needs of their patients while also having peace of mind that all of the important yet mundane tasks are getting done.
This doesn’t just mean that patients are better cared for; it also means that they’re happier! As is the case for all other businesses, the more satisfied your customers are, the more successful your business has the potential to be.
The Potential Drawbacks of PPM Services
While the right PPM service can likely help you improve your workflows, quality of care, and ability to save on costs, there are always two sides to every coin. Let’s look at some of the downsides you’ll want to be aware of when deciding whether to outsource some of your tasks to a PPM company.
While PPM services can help you save money in the long run, they can be expensive to invest in. This is particularly true for individual practitioners or smaller practices.
Depending on the particulars of your practice, PPM fees could problematically eat into your revenue in a way that doesn’t provide a reasonable return.
Some of these companies will have standardized protocols and procedures that they use with all of their clients. This could mean that the way they do things doesn’t perfectly sync up with the way you’re used to working.
In some cases, this inflexibility could hinder the growth of your practice or stifle the potential for innovation.
Privacy and Security
Any time you put your trust in an external service to handle sensitive practice and patient data, you are taking a risk.
For this reason, it’s important to consider the potential for the mishandling of patient information or data breaches before choosing to work with a PPM service.
While this won’t be the case for every practice, it’s important to think about how outsourcing some tasks to a PPM service is going to impact your existing staff.
Discussing this topic could put some staff in an awkward position where they fear they are going to lose their job, and, in some instances, staff reductions or reassignments could result from working with a PPM service.
Some PPM companies offer custom solutions for private practices. However, others really only provide a one-size-fits-all approach.
Depending on the needs of your practice, you might find that there are more generic systems that simply don’t offer what you’re looking for.
Limited Local Knowledge
Another major drawback of working with PPM companies is that they might not have much knowledge about the dynamics of your unique healthcare market.
This could mean that physicians are making decisions based on regional or national trends rather than local trends and patient preferences.
Are You Ready to Take Your Practice to the Next Level?
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If you’re ready to grow your business to six and seven figures, the EntreMD Business School will give you the business education you need. This isn’t a place to dabble with the idea of growing your business– it’s a school designed specifically for physicians who are committed to achieving next-level success.
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No matter where you are in your journey, I’m here to help you build a profitable business so you can practice medicine and live life on your own terms.