As we move into 2023, a critical focus for hospitals will be to cut costs, increase operational efficiencies and improve physician satisfaction. One way for hospitals to achieve this is by simplifying physician payment processes, which are often manually taxing, time-consuming, and come with both financial and compliance risk.
Even in a recent survey from Deloitte of health system executives and clinicians, participants said organizations should “invest in technology to give time back to workers.” The fact is tools that can save providers hours out of their weeks should be a no-brainer in today’s climate. And for those that manage physician payments, that means going beyond an Excel spreadsheet and leveraging automation. When used effectively, physician payment automation can speed up calculations and operationalize your current spreadsheets, while also providing a holistic view of every provider you’re paying, how much you’re spending and opportunities to eliminate unnecessary costs.
But for hospitals, where do you even begin when it comes to a physician payment automation? What’s right for your organization based on your specific needs? And how do you properly evaluate your options?
Here’s my advice, based on a new guide we put together for hospitals.
Step 1: Bring Together Key Internal Stakeholders
Like any software purchase, physician payment automation purchases can get derailed if you don’t have the right people involved in the process. But unlike many other software purchases that are clearly owned by one single group, physician payments tend to be fragmented across different departments. For example, different people may be managing employed contracts vs. independent, and different people may own wRVUs vs. medical director payments. Physician payment processes are usually siloed across multiple departments, including physician comp, finance, medical teams, compliance, legal and other departments. Therefore, it’s important to understand the unique needs, goals and responsibilities of each department that is involved. It’s also important to make sure you get the feedback from people on the ground who are close to the payment processes and understand where the real pain points are. Three key questions to ask each group are:
Step 2: Secure Executive Sponsorship
Like any project, no clear leader and too many “cooks in the kitchen” can prevent your organization from moving forward with physician payment automation. After you identify the requirements of each group, you need a dedicated project manager and executive sponsor who has budget authority and will own the project going forward. Making sure this person is armed with the business case and ROI of a physician payment automation system is a critical step that increases the likelihood in your organization adopting a solution. It’s important to highlight that without streamlining physician payment processes, a hospital opens itself up to potential compliance risk (Stark Law, etc.) and wasteful spending on unneeded services and administrative burden. And with staffing challenges, it is a key component of helping remove burdens and prevent gaps as staff transitions in key finance roles.
Step 3: Plan for a Successful Rollout
Once you have your organization in alignment on the need for automated physician payments, it’s important to craft the right strategy for rolling out this technology. Here are a few best practices which can increase your likelihood of a successful rollout:
At the end of the day, implementing a physician payment software solution that has the hospital’s needs in mind can ensure three critical things: all physician arrangements are paid properly, administrative burden on staff is reduced and compliance safeguards are enhanced. Ultimately, this can result in generating 5 – 6x ROI on a hospital’s initial investment. That’s a win-win for everyone. Good luck!
This blog post originally appeared on the American Association of Provider Compensation Professionals (AAPCP) website.