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3 ways to trim down ASC business office costs for more powerful revenue cycle management strategy

The business office is a necessary component of any successful ambulatory surgery center, but it can be expensive. From practice management systems and coding and billing to software, the costs add up. Here are three ways to cut business office costs for leaner, more efficient revenue cycle management.

1. Invest in IT. Information technology is undeniably a cost, but the initial investment in the right technology can lead to substantial cost savings. For example, electronic insurance verification and payment posting can reduce the number of necessary business office staff members and reduce one of the consistently highest ASC expenses.

Technology can also increase the efficiency of a center's business office staff. "We give our billers and collectors dual monitors," says Michael Orseno, director of Regent Revenue Cycle Management. "Investing $100 in a second screen increases their efficiency tenfold." For example, dual monitors allow staff members to post payments and confirm contractual amounts at the same time.

Thirdly, consider investing in reporting software. A system that will provide a dashboard allows ASC leaders to define and track metrics, without constantly running reports. "Analytics ultimately give you decision making power and really drive performance improvement," says Ed Tschan, director of business development for Regent RCM.

2. Invest in your staff. Though it may seem counterintuitive, investing in your business office staff members will result in long term cost savings. "Pay a bit more and offer great benefits," says Mr. Orseno. "If you do this, you will attract the best staff. It will also decrease turnover and training costs."

Excellent staff members are well worth the extra dollars. Rather than paying more than one person, often times a single star employee can manage multiple business office functions. Once you've found and invested in high quality employees, do not forget to spend enough time on training. "Put in place clear and concise policies," says Mr. Orseno. "Regularly audit your staff to ensure performance targets are being met."

3. Consider outsourcing. Many ASCs run business office functions in-house, but outsourcing revenue cycle management is a growing trend. "ASCs run on lean resources. Staff members wear multiple hats and revenue cycle management can easily slip through the cracks," says Mr. Orseno. The right outsourcing provider can take on coding, billing and all essential revenue cycle tasks and bring more money to the table.

"Even for those ASCs that are doing revenue cycle management in-house and feel they are doing it well, oftentimes we can find up to 5 percent they are under-billing, writing off or just not collecting during a business office audit," says Mr. Orseno. "Outsourcing usually pays for itself in the increased collections."

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