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Are Ancillary Services the Right Investment? What to Consider

As more physician practices add ancillary services to their current mix, the right support—including billing support—is critical to success.

Twenty-two percent of physicians say their income has increased in the past year,according to the 90th Annual Medical Economics Physician Report—and the addition of ancillary reasons is one of the top reasons why.

Ancillary services offer physician practices the opportunity to offset declines in productivity and revenue from uncompensated tasks, such as time spent on prior authorizations and administrative work related to value-based contracts, with new revenue sources that offer increased value for patients.

However the addition of these additional services alone is not a sure-fire solution for revenue success. Practice managers also must ensure ancillary services are appropriately coded—a challenge for some. Additionally, there are legal and compliance regulations to consider, especially if the practice is hospital-owned. And there are costs to providing these services—not just the cost of equipment, but also equipment maintenance, salaries for the technicians who perform these services, the cost of adding a rider to the practice’s medical liability policy, and more.

Taking a strategic approach can help ensure physician practices are prepared to successfully deliver ancillary services. Here are three considerations.

1. Look for ways to address patients’ unique needs through in-house ancillary services.

Conduct a patient needs assessment to determine which ancillary services will best meet the needs of the specific patient population at hand. For example, one urology practice in Texas offers an in-office laboratory and CT scan services, enabling the practice to provide comprehensive, highly coordinated services for its cancer patients in a single location. Over time, the practice expanded its approach by investing in an offsite cancer center that offers Image-Guided Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), supporting even greater care continuity and an enhanced patient experience.

2. Focus on convenience.

Look for ways to solve challenges your patients commonly face, such as issues related to access. For example, adding an onsite medication dispensary enables physicians to tap into a new revenue source while ensuring patients receive the medications their physicians have prescribed. For patients who are ill—especially those suffering from a chronic disease or cancer—this service also eliminates the need to travel to fill prescriptions, a task that can be exhausting and may present transportation challenges. This approach also gives patients the ability to ask questions regarding their medications while in the office, which can help drive greater patient understanding and adherence in their care plans.

3. Consider the ease with which ancillary services could be added to the practice’s mix.

In cardiology practices, the addition of onsite stress testing typically requires minimal investment, such as a room with a treadmill and a technician to run tests.Orthopedic practices, meanwhile, may find that investment in onsite physical therapy services requires minimal investment in equipment, space, and staff. Be sure not to overlook small additions that can yield big returns in revenue and patient satisfaction.

4. Exploring Your Options? Pulse Can Help.

The addition of ancillary services could boost practice revenue, but it requires the right support—including experienced coders and billing staff—to strengthen a practice’s bottom line. Looking for practical guidance? Contact us  to continue the conversation.