Technology plays a critical role in driving administrative and clinical functions across cardiology practices. Unfortunately, too many practices rely on a fragmented tech mix that creates hidden costs, bottlenecks and gaps–and this fragmentation costs practices more than they realize.
Tech fragmentation is a persistent issue across the healthcare landscape. But it's an acute problem for independent cardiology practices, which often lack the scale and resources to handle ever-increasing administrative duties. In our research, 50% of cardiologists report high rates of burnout–and spend 17.4 hours per week on administrative tasks like documentation, practice management and staffing issues.
Inadequate technology is at the root of these problems–and resolving it should be a top priority for practice leadership. The first step to moving past these challenges is understanding the various ways in which fragmented technology impacts cardiology practices.
"Inadequate technology is at the root of these problems–and resolving it should be a top priority for practice leadership."
Siloed EMRs are Killing Efficiency
Many independent cardiology groups use an EMR that is disconnected from other systems like imaging, scheduling, billing and ancillary technologies. This often happens because practices are pressured to choose lower-cost, overly simplified systems to remain financially healthy.
The result is an increasing administrative burden to bridge the gaps between multiple clinical and non-clinical systems. Some of the symptoms of these gaps are redundancy entering the same data in multiple applications, workflows with improper information flow, and duplicate printing and scanning. All of this flows downstream to the patient, who, instead of having one digital front door, has multiple touchpoints through phone, the patient portal, text messages and other mobile apps.
Revenue Cycle Technology Is a Major Bottleneck
The cardiology revenue cycle encompasses a wide range of processes–from coding, charge entry, and electronic claim submission to denial management, electronic remittance, posting, co-pay and patient balance collections. Because the revenue cycle intersects with the entire cardiology ecosystem, inefficiencies, misalignment and silos in this space can be a particular drain on independent cardiology practice health.
Issues in claims submission result in low collection rates, payment challenges and high denials rates, which all translate into lost revenue. When resources have to be redirected to address these issues, time with patients suffers. But beyond this, staff is stuck in survival mode, treading water and missing revenue opportunities like enabling remote patient monitoring, chronic and transition of care management, and value-based care. The latter is particularly pressing since one out of every three cardiologists believe that, in the next three years, 25% of their patients will be under a value-based care agreement.
Vendor Management Overwhelms Practice Admin
Practice managers bear the burden of fragmentation in the form of ongoing inefficiencies inherent to managing multiple technology and service vendors. On a daily basis, managers juggle contacts in staffing, payor enrollment, revenue cycle management, EMR, contracting, credentialing and various clinical systems. This means multiple fronts of focus—including maintaining vendor attention, evaluating platform performance, acting as a go-between for cardiologists and resolving issues.
The lack of insight that comes with navigating this kind of system flows downstream into unproductive contract negotiations and low reimbursement rates, making practice management increasingly difficult over time and complicating the goal of remaining independent.
And none of this is cheap. Cardiology practices pay an average of 12-15% to vendors for their technology and services–and the hidden costs of staff time to administer these solutions costs even more. Meanwhile, they’re not seeing adequate returns in efficiencies and clinical outcomes to justify this spend.