Da Silva believes that the present business model is under strain. “Too much unproductive time is spent on administrative duties. For example, if a doctor could rather spend that time on seeing an extra patient a day working on the average 15 minute consultation, his bottom-line would increase by 10%.” he says.
The challenge facing most doctors nowadays is how to remain profitable while juggling time between managing the business and tending to patients. In theory, a medical practice is a typical ‘small business’ and like most small businesses, the doctor has a dual role as the sole income generator and the business manager.
According to MD Luis da Silva of Healthbridge, a company dedicated to transforming the business side of the healthcare sector, it’s about working smarter, not longer and understanding the two industry forces at play; administration and treating patients.
Healthbridge’s solution allows for financial and medical information exchange between doctors, hospitals, pathology laboratories, radiologists and medical aids. Last year alone, over 40-million transactions were generated among 5 500 doctors, made up of GPs, specialists, optometrists, dentists and auxiliary practices.
Healthbridge has been at the forefront of providing medical practices with technology services that enables immediate processing for medical aid claims. This translates into significant operational savings for medical practices in terms of administration, efficiency and speed of payment.
However, the administrative challenges are numerous, one being the 36 different implementations of the professional dispensing fee mark-ups by medical aids. Because the process is complex and practices are sometimes penalised for overcharging, practitioners tend to err on the side of the lowest common denominator which ultimately impacts negatively on his (or her) bottom-line.
To compound the dilemma, the economy is taking its toll on patients’ indebtedness and the doctor very often gets paid last, if at all. But doctors can reduce their risk of bad debt by ascertaining up-front what benefits are covered by the medical aid. An account can then be generated and settled immediately by the patient.
The key is to reduce the administrative burden. This is achieved by the doctor receiving a customized one-page info-mail every month with current details on the state of the practice; and allows him to deal with any business related issues within a couple of minutes, and resume consulting. In addition, highly qualified client service experts are on hand to offer business advice during regular practice visits.
“Ever since we pioneered realtime claim processing in the early 2000s, our goal as a company has always been to bring greater operational efficiencies to the healthcare sector. We will continue to provide services that offer benefits and solutions to doctors and patients alike,” says da Silva.