From billing to frame boards, outside expertise goes a long way in helping to keep the optometrist’s focus where it belongs — caring for patients. As administrative tasks can distract from optimal patient care, as well as potentially cause practices inefficiencies and staff burnout, representatives from optometric buying groups and alliances — the outside experts — detail their offerings in this area.
Justin Manning O.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.O., executive vice president of professional strategies for Healthy Eyes Advantage (HEA), suggests O.D.s set aside time to “explore administrative offerings to determine which services will have the biggest [positive] impact on the practice.”
Due to space considerations, the following discussion is limited to one service per organization. However, alliances and buying groups often offer multiple outsourcing services, so it is recommended you research each appropriate opportunity.
ADO PRACTICE SOLUTIONS
Expert: Jobe Sellers, vice president and general manager
Why: Most independent practices don’t have the time or the resources to create or manage an ongoing marketing strategy, Mr. Sellers says. When outsourcing marketing responsibilities, O.D.s gain access to industry experts that deliver better results in less time.
What: ADO Practice Solutions offers a personalized outsourced marketing service through their DONE4YOU marketing program.
How: This personalized marketing service provides practices with an experienced marketing manager that executes all the practice’s marketing and brand consistency needs across all marketing platforms, Mr. Sellers asserts.
When: Now! By outsourcing marketing to ADO’s DONE4YOU marketing program, practices average 18% growth in their optical revenue, along with saving valued time and energy along the way, Mr. Sellers notes.
HEA (HEALTHY EYES ADVANTAGE)
Outsource: Staff management/professional employer organization (PEO)
Expert: Dr. Manning
Why: Staff is among the most important asset of any practice, making optimal staff management a high priority for any owner, Mr. Manning says.
What: “A PEO gives [a] small business access to health benefits at large group rates,” explains Mr. Manning.
How: PEOs provide an array of services, including employee manuals, compliance with federal, state and local regulations, plus guidance on all types of human resource matters, he adds.
When: HEA member Mark Sabre O.D., says: “When I added up what I was paying for my payroll service, a bookkeeper, an attorney and health care benefits, it was simple to say “yes” [to this service]. If I had known that these PEO services existed for my practice size, I would have been on board years ago.”
IDOC (INDEPENDENT DOCTORS OF OPTOMETRIC CARE)
Experts: Nathan Hayes CEPA, IDOC practice finance consultant, and Steve Vargo O.D. M.B.A., IDOC practice management consultant
Why: “A single in-house billing manager can essentially hold a practice ‘hostage’ if he or she is, in fact, indispensable to the practice’s ability to get paid. I recommend larger (multi-location) practices have both an outside billing service and an in-office biller,” says Mr. Hayes.
Dr. Vargo agrees. “Billing can be very cumbersome and time-consuming. In addition, many practices lack the internal expertise to do it competently and struggle with higher accounts receivables because they lack time and expertise.”
What: Even if a practice outsources, it makes sense not to put all their eggs in one basket, suggests Mr. Hayes. “It’s also why the owner should work closely with their CPA about training and establishing safeguards and controls to make sure there are no problems,” he adds.
How: “Give the outsource biller all your ‘routine’ claims and focus the in-house team that’s more familiar with customers and accounts on difficult and rejected claims,” suggests Mr. Hayes.
Dr. Vargo says, “One of the criticisms of billing services is that they sometimes drop the ball with complicated or rejected claims.”
When: “Overly cumbersome and time-consuming billing often warrants outside help, says Dr. Vargo. “Plus, there’s often saved time and costs with outsourcing.”
Outsource: Digital marketing
Expert: Erin Meyer, OPTI-PORT director of marketing
Why: It can be a challenge for even seasoned marketers to keep up with rapidly evolving digital marketing trends, she says.
What: Tactics like search engine optimization (also known as SEO), digital advertising, retargeting campaigns and reputation management.
How: This would be accomplished through dedicated account management to keep projects on track, regular meetings, answering O.D. questions, bringing new ideas and making data-driven recommendations to the O.D., with a focus on results.
When: First, perform a cost/time analysis. When you factor in the cost of time your current marketing team is spending on tasks, it can sometimes be more economical to outsource. Do the analysis to see whether your team is at this breaking point, Ms. Meyer explains.
“Analyze your situation, and ask yourself the following: ‘Is your marketing team overworked? Do you have expertise in-house? Are you getting the results you want?’”
PECAA (PROFESSIONAL EYE CARE ASSOCIATES OF AMERICA)
Outsource: Insurance verification
Experts: Teri Thurston and Libby MacFarland, PECAA billing/coding advisors
Why: In addition to preventing related staff burnout, practices can increase the likelihood of patients paying their correct portion of their visit at the same time.
Plus, depending on the claim, practices sometimes have only 90 days before it has to be written off, explains Mrs. Thurston.
What: Among other services, PECAA partners with companies that can have someone perform insurance verification prior to patient visits, adds Mrs. MacFarland.
How: PECAA partners with companies that can confirm active insurance coverage, correct demographic information for insurance claim submission, in-network or out-of-network status, check for co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance amounts owed by the patient and confirm primary/secondary payor status for a monthly fee, reports Mrs. Thurston.
When: If a practice doesn’t have the manpower in place to scrutinize insurance benefits, it should consider outsourcing insurance verification, suggests Ms. MacFarland.
PERC (PROFESSIONAL EYECARE RESOURCE CO-OPERATIVE)
Outsource: Frame board management
Expert: Jessica Hall, vice president, organizational development
Why: Outsourcing frame board management will significantly increase efficiencies and profits, says Ms. Hall.
What: “PERC has developed the frame board management solution PERC Advantage, designed to give members instant access to a reserved inventory of top frame brands without the expense of maintaining deep backstock or their own warehouse,” she explains.
How: To learn more, attend an informational webinar on outsourcing frame board management utilizing PERC Advantage; conduct a follow-up call with a PERC Advantage consultant to discuss practice needs and logistics and then select brands that are right for your practice with a PERC brand expert, Ms. Hall says.
When: The ideal time to outsource frame board management is when a practice realizes out-of-stock frames are affecting capture rate or when the practice is spending an inordinate amount of time maintaining the optical, Ms. Hall explains.
Experts: Peter Kehoe, O.D., senior advisor, Vendor and Practice Management and Amir Khoshnevis, O.D., chief medical officer
Why: The internet is often the first place people turn for health information and services. However, there is a lot of work that needs to go into the design, content creation, search engine optimization and maintenance of a website. Outsourcing these tasks can save practices valuable time and ensure the site is effectively reaching potential patients, notes Dr. Kehoe.
What: Vision Source offers in-house expertise and partners with a national vendor to provide practices with no-cost, user-friendly website packages that include responsive designs, search engine optimization and a support team, explains Dr. Khoshnevis.
How: Vision Source members can contact the in-house marketing team to set up a free standard website or learn about upgraded packages, which include blog posts on eye health topics, as well as additional customization options. The websites stay compliant with regulatory changes and requirements, says Dr. Khoshnevis.
When: Unless a practice has a staff member dedicated to regularly updating the site, keeping up with trends and best practices and frequently reviewing the site analytics, it should be a priority to connect with a trusted vendor to help build and manage the website, notes Dr. Kehoe.
Deciding which tasks to outsource takes time, but it can be well worth it, says Dr. Manning.
“Developing an outsourced strategy is sure to pay dividends in the form of giving you more time to devote to patient care, while nurturing and growing the business side of the practice.” OM