Physician groups and ambulatory care facilities have experienced significant revenue losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, physician revenue dropped by an average of 32% due to the pandemic, according to a nationwide survey by the American Medical Association (AMA).
The AMA also revealed that in the first six months of 2020, Medicare Physician Fee Schedule spending ranged from a 6% reduction for nephrology to a 29% reduction for ophthalmology and a 34% reduction for physical therapists. Nearly two years after the start of the pandemic in the U.S., physician groups and outpatient clinics still feel the negative financial effects of delayed elective surgeries and procedures.
Even before the pandemic hit, tighter budgets in physician practice groups and ambulatory facilities were requiring staff to do more with less and simplify processes wherever possible.
Cost-conscious organizations that want to improve care delivery in the pandemic era and beyond seek to streamline clinical collaboration. Clinical collaboration platforms unify communication channels (e.g., secure messaging, video, voice, and alerts) to improve workflows related to patient care. Such platforms are most often used to achieve the following goals in health systems, ambulatory facilities, and physicians practices:
1. Improve scheduling capabilities for ambulatory care
Provider groups and ambulatory clinics of all sizes face the challenge of efficient, transparent scheduling. Verifying which clinicians are on call, in consultation, or on vacation is a constant struggle—and so is updating schedules across multiple platforms. Some facilities still rely on paper schedules, multiple spreadsheets, and faxes. These methods can delay time-sensitive communications about patient care.
The use of disparate systems also denies healthcare organizations the flexibility to provide real-time coverage updates—and often forces staff to duplicate efforts, adding to staff resource and budgetary woes. This is problematic because ambulatory facilities lost 0.6% of their workforce between February 2020 and August 2021.
Use of a clinical collaboration platform can help counteract resources losses and provide a unified dashboard for all staff members to see who’s available and use role-based messaging to consult with colleagues.
2. Enhance communication between ambulatory care sites and hospitals
Many provider groups and ambulatory care facilities have strong partnerships with local hospitals through common ownership or other operating agreements. Yet communication between facilities can be surprisingly fragmented—especially when hospitals and specialists prefer different communication methods that do not sync.
Clinical collaboration platforms can reduce interruptions at physician groups and ambulatory care facilities by sharing real-time on-call schedules with hospitals. Enabling smooth communication and rapid consultation allows teams to accelerate patient care toward the goals of higher care quality, patient satisfaction, and patient experience.
3. Reduce unnecessary hospitalizations
Under the Affordable Care Act, reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and readmissions is a top priority for providers. When teams collaborate in real time, patients get appropriate care without unneeded delays, which can prevent them from heading to the hospital.
4. Improve profitability, productivity, and value
Investing in staff, facilities, and operations separates top-performing medical groups from the pack, according to a report by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). MGMA rates physician practices on operations, profitability, productivity, and value.
“Compared to lower performing practices, better performer practices reported nearly 9% higher medical total operating cost per full-time-equivalent physician,” the report concluded. “Better performer practices also reported 19% higher median total physician compensation and benefits.”
Consolidating communication into one cohesive platform can translate to greater physician performance, engagement, and satisfaction. And depending on the costs associated with legacy platforms, it may be more cost-effective.
Bringing it all together
Under the Affordable Care Act’s mandates to reduce hospitalizations and measure patient outcomes, provider groups and ambulatory care clinics must focus on delivering high-value care, rather than juggling workflow and communication channels. Clinical collaboration platforms allow medical provider groups and clinics to maximize productivity and care delivery—creating a win-win for facilities and patients alike.
Learn more today about how technology can support clinical collaboration.