In the midst of economic hurdles impacting the healthcare sector recently, hospitals across the United States continue to face financial challenges.1 The main culprits behind this struggle continue to be high labor costs and supply chain disruptions in the post-pandemic period. Many healthcare organizations are being pushed into the red and hospital executives are understandably apprehensive about their operating margins.
Discovering new approaches to generate revenue can be a game-changer for these organizations. However, navigating these waters can be a tricky endeavor in the increasingly complex healthcare landscape. One solution is expanding healthcare services to a new patient population, opening the door to a new source of revenue.
One revenue-generating option is offering occupational medicine services to community employers. In addition to that, incorporating a comprehensive software solution can significantly reshape hospital margins.
In this blog, we will address the following questions:
- What is the current financial landscape for hospitals, and what options are available for generating new sources of revenue?
- What factors should be considered when introducing occupational medicine service offerings?
- How can software optimize processes and enhance efficiency in occupational medicine?
A Closer Look at Hospital Operating Margins
Based on the latest insights from Kaufman Hall’s National Hospital Flash Reports, most hospitals are just breaking even with respect to operating margins.1 This statistic suggests many healthcare centers are beginning to shift away from the financial difficulties experienced over the past few years.
What this statistic doesn’t reveal, however, is that from January 2022 through February 2023, a typical hospital’s operating margins remained in negative territory. In other words, month after month, costs consistently outweighed revenues. This isn’t entirely surprising, as data indicates a 17.5% increase in hospitals’ total costs between 2019 and 2022.1
Additionally, recent data suggests that around half of hospitals and health systems still operate at a financial loss, while many others barely cover their costs.1
Amid these ongoing financial challenges, it’s clear that reliance on traditional management approaches alone will no longer cut it.2 Hospitals and healthcare organizations must consider a fundamental transformation in how they approach revenue generation. A transformation that requires innovation, adaptability, and a departure from supposedly ‘tried-and-true’ methods.
The Impact of Integrating Employer-Focused Occupational Medicine Services
Delivering occupational medicine services to third-party or ‘community’ employers is one way hospitals can boost their operating margins in multiple ways. Occupational medicine services can cover a multitude of use cases. For example, work-related injuries and illnesses, DOT physicals, vaccinations, random drug & alcohol screens – each one billable.
When integrating Occupational Medicine into a care setting, strategically scheduling these services during “off-peak” times can help even out the ‘ups and downs’ in urgent care volume.3 This type of scheduling ensures better use of hospital staff and resources.
Dealing with reputable community employers also offers a boost when it comes to a hospital’s accounts receivable. Employers are often quicker to pay for services than insurance companies or HMOs, which results in a steadier cash flow.3
Tips for Choosing Software in Occupational Medicine Clinics
Employing a comprehensive software solution can help organizations realize a quicker return on their investment in occupational medicine clinics. Such applications allow healthcare firms to quickly scale their business to market demand, enhance patient throughput and experience, and facilitate effective communication with employer ‘customers’.
But not all software platforms are equal. Consider the following factors when selecting software to manage an occupational medicine clinic:
- Thoughtfully designed clinical workflows: To adopt a patient-centric approach that minimizes waiting times and accelerates clinic visits, occupational medicine software must offer the ability to pre-load employer-specified health protocols directly into the solution, which is critical to reduce charting time, and allows health practitioners to offer more direct attention to patients.
- Software that can grow with the business: Short-list software applications that offer user-friendly self-service tools. These tools empower organizations to effortlessly configure the solution on their own, without reliance on the vendor. Look for tools that allow users to create new employer profiles as they expand their occupational medicine business. It should also offer the flexibility to easily incorporate employer fee schedules and protocols for clinic visits.
- Invoicing efficiency: To help simplify complex billing tasks, select an occupational medicine solution that offers capabilities to create accurate employer fee and payer invoicing. These features help to minimize billing disputes and write-offs, while contributing to a steady income stream from occupational medicine services rendered.
- Effective communication with employers: Prioritize software that enhances communication with employers. This includes features facilitating seamless interaction, allowing employers to easily track booked and completed appointments, retrieve invoices, or download documentation to help with internal recruitment or occupational health processes.
- Business intelligence: Choose software that provides intuitive dashboards and comprehensive reporting features. These tools facilitate seamless communication by effortlessly sharing vital information with designated stakeholders. Additionally, it can help occupational medicine clinic managers effectively demonstrate positive ROI to company leadership.
Overall, a robust occupational medicine software solution should not only meet the immediate needs of an occupational medicine clinic, but also be scalable, adaptable, and user-friendly to support the growth and evolving requirements of a business.
As healthcare organizations navigate the challenging financial landscape ahead, innovation becomes imperative for sustained success. The shift towards employer-focused occupational medicine services presents a strategic avenue for sustainable revenue growth. Deploying comprehensive software solutions into occupational medicine clinics can be a game-changer, providing efficiency in clinical workflows, scalability for business growth, invoicing accuracy, and enhanced communication with employers.