When it comes to providing and receiving healthcare in the United States, cost means everything. Providers, payers, and patients are all motivated by price. Some claim it’s a good system, others say otherwise, but until a replacement arrives, it’s the only one available.
With this in mind, providers need to find ways to grow revenue and cut costs. Doing so puts them in a better position to serve patients. However, it’s equally imperative for healthcare providers to avoid compromising patient outcomes in the process. Given the role of cost-cutting in revenue growth, it’s easy to see how it’s hard to accomplish.
Despite the challenges involved, growing revenue without compromising patient outcomes is not impossible. The following five methods are ways to make it happen:
Renegotiate payer contracts
The United States healthcare system involves hundreds of private health insurers and several federally-managed insurance programs. For providers to stay in business, they need financial reimbursement from these insurers. However, the reimbursement rate relative to the cost of care depends on a preexisting contract agreed to by both sides. By negotiating insurance contracts, hospitals and other providers can leverage their size and scope to get a better deal going forward. It remains the most effective method of cutting costs and increasing revenue in the process.
Provide ancillary services
Many components of modern healthcare are traditionally outside the sphere of hospitals. These include ambulance services, diagnostic imaging, hospice care, and substance abuse treatment. However, it’s becoming more common to see hospitals and other providers incorporate ancillary services into their operations. Doing so typically requires minimum investment, given the existing infrastructure, while almost instantly growing the bottom line.
Offer virtual visits
Telehealth – also referred to as telemedicine or virtual medicine – is the concept of doctors seeing patients via video chat. While telehealth can’t always be enough to provide the right level of care, it’s often more than enough for providers and patients to touch base and decide what to do next. Doing so eliminates the cost associated with traditional face-to-face visits. Meanwhile, after-hours virtual visits extend the timeframe per day in which providers can treat patients, further enhancing their income potential going forward.
Long stretches of time in the waiting room are a constant source of anger and frustration for patients. But for providers, it adds up to thousands wasted every year through inefficient scheduling. By investing in the latest scheduling software and taking additional steps to streamline operations, hospitals and other providers can achieve better time management going forward, driving down cost and driving up profit without making things worse for patients.
Automation has become key to gaining an edge across all industries. Healthcare is no exception. Whether it’s artificial intelligence, data analytics, machine learning, or robotic process automation, providers have many modern tools at their disposal. By adopting these and other digital technologies, hospitals can implement a higher standard of operational efficiency. They also set the groundwork for future upgrades to automation. Given the increasing rate of automated technology, it’s unlikely these investments will fail to pay off, all but guaranteeing a boost to the bottom line for years to come.
This list is far from comprehensive. There are plenty of ways for providers to generate more revenue and lower costs without compromising the quality of care afforded to patients. There seems to be a new development in this regard every year. Who knows what sorts of technologies will be available by the end of the decade and beyond?
Perhaps by then, the concept of for-profit healthcare will be in the rearview mirror? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, providers operating within the American healthcare system have no choice but to focus on ways to drive down costs, increase revenue, and maintain quality.