Managing human resources in medical practices is a very complicated endeavor. Hundreds of scholarly studies on healthcare point to the critical nature of human resource management (HRM). One study published by the National Institute of health examined the impact of HRM on the performance and concluded, “The use of HR practices is related to improved financial outcomes (measure: net margin), organizational outcomes (measure: client satisfaction) and HR outcomes (measure: sickness absence)...The results underscore the importance of HRM in the health care sector, especially for HR and organizational outcomes."
How much money is an inefficient EHR costing your practice? Click here and you can run the numbers.
Additional research indicates that the business performance of most medical practices is often poor. One reason for this is obvious: physicians are trained in medicine, not accounting, HRM, revenue cycle management or labor law. As a result, the management of these practices is often delegated to a non-medical professional who, in order to be successful, must have the best tools with which to work.
Every medical specialty has its unique operational challenges, and the ‘tool’ that sits at the center of everything is the Electronic Health Records (EHR) platform. As has been noted in a previous post, a pediatric practice has many specialty-specific practice management challenges, and this is where a pediatric-focused EHR platform is worth its weight in monthly billings!
An Expert on Practice Management
Susanne Madden is the CEO and / or Cofounder of five companies, including the Verden Group, a medical practice management consulting company. “About 80 percent of our clients are pediatric practices,” she said. “These practices range from the solo practitioners to “super groups” consisting of many pediatricians. Our consulting services cover just about everything in the practice management space: HR, hiring, contract negotiation and contract management, IT, pretty much anything that our clients need. We are also there to help them manage the larger business and industry challenges specific to their practices.”
Often, Ms. Madden will be asked to recommend an efficient EHR platform for a pediatric practice, and she has first-hand knowledge of the benefits and pitfalls of these platforms, especially in the area of HR.
“HR is the single most challenging aspect of any business, and this challenge is greatly amplified in a medical practice. Why? Physicians are clinicians. They know what they are doing clinically and how to treat patients, and some are very good business people too. However, they often don’t know about myriad labor laws and other HR compliance issues.
“This is also blind spot for many pediatricians because the doctors who choose this specialty are friendly by nature,” she said. “Typically, they don’t think about things like running background checks on potential employees but these employees are handling money and are dealing with children, and these are both sensitive areas for concern.
“Plus, there are the daily HR issues to contend with. If it is a busy practice and several employees are working in a small space, tempers can flare. The challenge then becomes how does the doctor - the employer - navigate this situation?
“Because pediatricians are usually easy-going and focused on the clinical aspect of the practice, they will often give misbehaving employees, who should be warned and counseled about their actions, third, fourth and fifth chances. Then, after having reached a level of frustration, fire the employee without proper documentation. This happens every day and can lead to expensive legal issues.”
EHR: The Heartbeat of the Practice
Many pediatricians don't realize the value of an EHR platform for helping to manage the nuts and bolts of the operations of a practice.
“A good EHR platform is the heartbeat of the practice,” Madden noted. “And many EHRs are not suited to the physicians that buy them. We find that many practices will purchase technology that actually works against them. Often, the technology may not be organized around the things that a pediatric practice does. Pediatrics has a lot of nuances. For example, growth charts and immunizations are critical to a pediatric practice, and general EHRs tend to have very generic functionality in that regard.
“Everything in the practice goes through the EHR platform, and this includes every patient interaction. If the EHR platform is designed correctly, it systematizes the way the doctor interacts with patients, setting up the protocols for what happens during a patient visit. This enables a consistency across the clinical care and operational efficiencies from such things as wellness reminders, patient information and billing. If a practice is trying to capture these types of services on paper, it is very easy to miss them. Does the EHR indicate that a patient is overdue for a well visit when the family makes an appointment? Does it manage balances across multiple patients and parents in a single family? Does it incorporate any of the important clinical tools from pediatric sources like the AAP?
“The key advantage of using an EHR platform, as opposed to manual record keeping, lies in whether it works ‘with’ the practice or ‘against’ the practice.”
A Pediatric Focused System
Susanne has recommended the PCC platform to pediatric practices around the country.
“The beautiful thing about the PCC EHR platform is that it is built from the ground up specifically for pediatricians,” she said. “If a practice is looking for a pediatric-based system, it will be hard to find anything in the marketplace that compares to the PCC platform and all of the support that they have built around it.
“If we’re talking about ‘systems,’ PCC is not just dealing with the electronic aspect of medical records. They have designed a platform that will help doctors efficiently deliver pediatric care, period. Everything they do about adding features to the EHR and how they plan on rolling these features out is designed around the perspective of how it will help the pediatrician. I think that is pretty neat.
Pediatricians are heavily dependent on high patient volume to stay afloat and PCC's EHR is specifically designed for fast, efficient visits. Pediatricians can't afford to lose 5% or 10% of their patient volume in order to get through the day!
“PCC has been around for quite a while now and every component of their system is built around trying to find efficiencies in that pediatric work-flow.”
After recognizing that pediatric practices are in desperate need of H/R education and best-practices guidance, PCC is presenting a one-day Pediatric H/R conference on June 3, 2017, in Chicago, after the two-day “Supergroup” event. Classes include a "Roles and Responsibilities" workshop, the MGMA's, Ken Hertz discussing Customer Service, an Employee Recruiting and Retention seminar, and PCC's Chip Hart discussing “How to Pay An Employed Clinician.”