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Why small physician practices are missing out on analytics

Small, independent physician practices have the best of healthcare IT worlds, and the worst.

On the plus side, they can control everything that happens inside their walls. They have access to their clinical and financial data. They can be more nimble with Healthcare IT decisions than larger organizations, from selection to implementation to governance.

But if small practices don’t have analytics, they could be losing money. And they may not even realize it.

Most practices don’t have the right tools

Small practices likely have reporting tools in their electronic health record (EHR) and practice management solutions. “Canned” reports can help track and monitor certain aspects of a practice, which is essential to having a healthy core.

But it takes more sophisticated analytics tools to really understand things like referral patterns, clinical pathways, care coordination – especially in context with cost data. Analytics tools for value-based care enable practices to build dashboards, slice and dice data, and review a patient’s progress in real time. They should also have ad-hoc capabilities to drill down into details about disease management, service locations and more.

What are other barriers between practices and the right analytics tools? Some practices lack software that is Open. Others lack awareness that these tools even exist. One of the biggest barriers, however, is limited time.

Who has time for analytics?

Many small practices feel that they simply don’t have the time to do more with their data. Physicians and administers aspire to what they might do, such as improve outcomes, become more efficient, retrieve maximum revenue. Then reality sets in: They don’t have the time.

With all the demands placed on small practices today, physicians are understandably reluctant to invest more resources into analytics. If they are making payroll on fee-for-service payment models, it’s easy to assume that all is well. But unless they use analytics, they won’t see opportunities to follow up with patients, catch missing revenue from payers or identify other inefficiencies. They’ll continue to make the same revenue mistakes and not even realize it.

Preparing for more complex business models

As small practices face increased complexity and reduced reimbursements, they’ll need to be ready for value-based financial models. Physicians recognize that these models require either 1) employees with expertise in this area (often beyond the reach of small practices), or 2) an outsourcing partner they can trust*.

Once the right analytics resources are in place, physicians can better focus on medicine, and practices can create more efficient mechanisms to earn revenue – in both fee-for-service and value-based-care models.  Which, in turn, is the best of both worlds.

* For an assessment or more information about Allscripts analytics services for small practices, please contact us.

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