On this episode of The Rectangle Health Podcast, Senior Director of Customer Success, Sam Anderson joins host Gary Tiratsuyan to discuss economic instability and uncertainty and the challenges being faced as a result, by healthcare practices and organizations.
Gary Tiratsuyan 00:00
Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Rectangle Health podcast. Really excited. For today’s episode, healthcare Office processes powered by people. We’re joined by Rectangle Health Senior Director of Customer Success, Sam Anderson. Sam, thanks for joining us today.
Sam Anderson 00:15
Absolutely, thanks for having me, Gary.
Gary Tiratsuyan 00:17
Let’s get right into it. I want to start by talking a little bit about the economic instability and uncertainty around us. Like in the retail space, healthcare has been impacted, forcing practices to reduce office hours or even close completely. What can you tell us about what you and your team are hearing in conversations?
Powered by People, Even Through Uncertain Times
Sam Anderson 00;36
That’s a great question. And this topic almost always comes up as top of mind for practices and for practitioners with whom our CSMS work on an ongoing basis. So it’s particularly true for smaller doctor owned practices with one or more locations. A closure isn’t imminent for any of our CSM managed practices, but practitioners are letting us know when they are admitting that the most expensive line item on their PnL is the cost of people. So many of the practitioners are sharing that in order to curtail rising costs, practitioners are being forced to implement what they can sometimes consider cost control measures. Basically includes three areas reducing office hours so going as far as to be fully closed at the end of a work week, generally on Fridays when they see the lowest volume of patient intake.
Secondly, where possible, particularly with inflation on the rise, practitioners are sharing with us that they are considering incrementally, increasing the cost of certain procedures within reason, in their office. And then finally, office staff and the medical personnel that they employ are being asked to wear multiple hats in terms of new, additional, or even shared responsibilities, cross functionally across different teams to keep one or more offices functioning in these we certainly call them unprecedented and challenging economic times.
Gary Tiratsuyan 01:59
That’s really insightful, and I think keeping staff on board has been difficult too, right? Many practices and businesses outside of healthcare and retail, for example, can relate, and there’s many reasons for it, including burnout. What are current Rectangle Health clients reporting with regards to staffing?
Sam Anderson 02:17
The pandemic most definitely pushed medical professionals to their mental and emotional limits, whether due to working long grueling hours to care for patients, or the psychological impact of dramatically reduced or shuttered practices that further exacerbated mental and financial stresses, which have certainly led to burnout. Even now, with increased uptakes in COVID vaccinations and hopefully putting the pandemic in our collective rear view mirror, we’ve seen an increased demand for practices and practitioners in the areas of hiring and retaining qualified professionals. This ranges from front and back office staff to highly skilled medical professionals, larger practices who tend to have deeper pockets, and this is true for small to medium businesses. And practices are being lured away, their talents being lured away by these larger practices with deeper pockets.
So it makes it incredibly difficult to compete with many doctor owned practices reporting that after monthly expenses are paid, particularly including their payroll and other overhead, many of them are left with little to no pay for themselves. As I shared a few moments ago, patients are either putting off or can’t afford medical care. And so this is creating additional economic challenges for these practices and the practitioners. So increasing costs and inflation with dramatically reduced cash flows, this is forcing practitioners to make tougher decisions in order to remain both profitable and operational. So this is something that we’re hearing on an ongoing basis, particularly with smaller doctor owned practices.
Gary Tiratsuyan 03:53
Last question here considering economic instability, staffing shortages, everything you really mentioned, there are practices that are holding strong navigating these challenges. What are they doing differently?
Sam Anderson 04:06
So, Gary, I know this probably sounds grossly oversimplified, but I can answer that question with one word and that’s automation. So doing more with less is certainly cliche nowadays. It’s the mantra today’s economy. But particularly in healthcare, with increased competition as well as turnover, practices are asking staff to wear multiple hats. They’re improving to improve employee retention through automation. And that’s exactly what our practice Management bridge software does for these practices of all sizes. It scales with both need and demand for a small medium business as well as what we refer to as our enterprise practices. As well, some examples of how practices are strategically using the software to leverage automation. First of all, I would say texting and emailing patients ahead of their scheduled visits.
Electronic take in forms, for example, allows the practices to capture key information like insurance related information for pre authorization, as well as allowing patients to securely store or what we sometimes call vault their preferred payment method on file with the practice. So it allows the practice the authorization to bill the card on file for any copay or balance due. It also supports for those who are concerned about COVID being on the rise in certain areas of the country. It gives them that contactless experience to make them feel safer and to keep them healthy. Secondly, I would say text messaging is becoming a tremendously powerful tool and a preferred medium through which patients prefer to engage with their providers.
So allowing a practice the ability through our software to send a patient and in office text with a URL link for fast, easy payments become a popular way for practices to leverage technology to get paid in a timely manner and in a contactless way. Third, I would say one of the biggest cost to practices is playing debt collectors. So spending tremendous amounts of time and money printing and mailing paper statements to patients that is so 20 years ago. Displacing this cost can be easily achieved through electronic statements or e-statements. We can allow practices to send balance due e-statements to patients and includes an embedded URL link for online bill pay. So it allows the patient to safely and securely pay for any balances owed or due for care quickly and easily.
So improving both operational efficiencies in the form of time, money, and it helps to improve the cash flow of these practices, which many of them desperately need with these challenging economic times. But finally, I would say the economic hardships that are facing many families in America inflation, increased costs of virtually everything from food to gas is offering financial options to provide a powerful tool that allows patients to afford care and practices to receive payment. So, Gary, many of the listeners may already know this, but I want to ensure that those who are listening to this podcast are aware of the exciting new offering that we’re rolling out as well.
Beginning of July, Rectangle Health has partnered with an industry leader, Healthcare Finance Direct, to offer practices and their patients financing part of our Care Now pay later approach to helping patients receive the care they need with affordable options and terms that work with their budget. So I would say in those three areas, Gary, that’s where technology and automation is helping to reduce costs, getting rid of those redundancies, and helping offices do more with less effort so that they’re getting paid in a more timely manner. Managing the cash flow is the heartbeat of any business, and our technology is doing just that. And as I said earlier, oversimplification by saying automation. I know that sounds somewhat cliche, but those practices that are implementing automation into their workflows are seeing less burnout and they’re seeing greater satisfaction from both their patients as well as their employees.
By not having to spend an inordinate amount of time manually logging patient payments into their patient ledger. They’re not printing statements, they’re not mailing them, not having the cost of going to the post office, the cost of managing that postage machine. We’re giving them automation that’s going to help them engage their patients where they are to get paid more effectively and giving them tools to be able to afford that care during these difficult economic times.
Gary Tiratsuyan 08:40
I think it’s the perfect blend and marriage of digital solutions with staff to overcome these challenges. And I think that’s a perfect segue into our next episode when we’ll have the privilege to continue the conversation with you and discuss the strategic approaches, practices and organizations can take to combine that technology and people to overcome the obstacles we discussed here today and more. Thank you so much.
Sam Anderson 09:06
You got it. Thanks, Gary.
Gary Tiratsuyan 09:08
Thanks again, Sam. I’d like to invite our listeners to stay tuned on Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple Podcast, Google Play, or listen in at rectanglehealth.com. Till next time, everybody.