Why doctors should befriend business office staff

No one ever said a doctor’s job is easy. Thanks to value-based care their job is getting significantly more difficult.

Doctors are trained to treat individual patients. With value-based care they are forced to leverage big data initiatives to look at patients more strategically and holistically to determine what’s going on. This requires a different level of analysis than what they were trained to do – and an opportunity for the business office to play a bigger part in healthcare.

The benefits of big data

Big data initiatives enable vast amounts of data to be pulled from internal and external sources including EHR systems, labs, insurance companies, pharmacies, etc. for analysis. These initiatives are happening within singular health systems and state-wide, with the goal of uncovering patterns, trends and other insight among various patient populations. As with any study, the larger the population the more insightful the data becomes. With information in hand, best practices can be developed to improve patient-centric care and reduce costs as mandated by the value-based care initiative.

Big data analysis initiatives are a massive undertaking. Integration capabilities are required to enable data from disparate systems to be pulled from participating facilities and aggregated into the analytics platform for analysis. Business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools enable this abundance of data to be transformed into insights and opportunities. However, for a busy doctor, learning how to leverage these tools and the wealth of information is simply not possible given the time commitment required.

Creating harmony

Most business offices have analysis tools in place and staff that are well versed on how to use them; if they don’t this function is likely outsourced to a business partner. Regardless of where the skillset resides, analysts can work with clinicians and doctors to help them mine the wealth of information created by big data analytics initiatives for useful insight. This collaborative effort, however, requires breaking down the silos between business office staff and doctors who typically don’t talk.

Creating a dyad leadership structure, which pairs an administrative leader with a clinical leader, will help break down these silos. A pilot project that pairs an analyst from the business office with a doctor is a great way to get started. Leverage this time to create awareness among participating doctors of the analysis expertise that exists within the business office and the benefits this affords them when dealing with value-based care. This will help move the structure from dyad to more of a cooperative relationship which is the ideal goal.

It is important that doctors know they aren’t alone when it comes to big data analytics. A wealth of analysis knowledge exists within the business office. With a little clinical guidance, great things can happen. This requires cooperation between the business office and doctor. When this cooperation happens, harmony is achieved.

By Kenneth Miller, Senior RCM Specialist at Cantata Health

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