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As COVID-19 Looms, Here’s Why Automation is Critical in Managing Physician Contracts and Payments

Managing and tracking physician agreements creates a tedious process for most hospitals, but it’s also a mission critical process that ensures physicians are paid accurately and on time. With COVID-19 dramatically impacting hospital operations, hospitals are discovering that their current processes for documenting physician work are insufficient, resulting in not only delayed payments to the medical teams on the front lines of the crisis, but potential gaps in documentation to meet the requirements for CARES Act funding. Automating these processes has become an operational priority.

While most hospitals already leverage some technology to track contract specifics, such as contract management systems, the most innovative hospitals are seeking to automate the actual payment, from start to finish. The result of these initiatives creates better alignment with physicians, ensures accurate documentation and payments, and provides better visibility into physician relationships.

Here are five top components to a successful physician-payment automation:

1. A Central Source of Truth

All physician agreements should be stored in a single digital repository. This repository should house not just the legal documents, but contain the key contract terms and payment variables required to manage agreements and calculate payment amounts.

2. Digital Time Tracking

Paper–based time tracking logs are rife with errors, are a hassle to manage and create exposure to inaccurate or inappropriate payments. Leveraging technology that automates physician time logs ensures documentation is captured in a unified format and only compensable duties are captured. This ensures accuracy and saves time for both physicians and administrators. Efficient time tracking is crucial all year round, and especially during the COVID19 crisis, as hospitals will need to ensure they’re documenting physician work accurately and regularly to receive CARES Act funds from the government.

3. Automated Payment Calculations

Once your contract variables (by contract) are loaded and you are collecting digital documentation, the next step is to eliminate manual calculations of payments by leveraging an advanced calculation engine that can handle the complexity of your physician contracts.

4. Streamlined Approval Workflows

Each physician payment requires at least one, and sometimes several approvals before it can be paid. Automatically queuing payments to the appropriate approver and allowing that approver to easily see all detail about that contract and payment can eliminate the need for check requests and manual paper shuffling.

5. Financial Data Analytics and Reporting

By implementing the above automation components, hospitals can also leverage the data that is created throughout the payment process to get a holistic view of their physician contract spend. This greatly improves real-time insight into financial payments to physicians and physician groups to ensure proper and appropriate pay is occurring all year round.

Automating physician payment processes solves current operational challenges that have been exacerbated by COVID-19, but also allows forward-thinking hospitals to create a strategic advantage over their competitors by better controlling operations, compliance and finance functions. 

Want to learn more about this topic? Check out the physician payment trends we identified in our research with HFMA, and why technology is becoming critical in this space.

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