Like many small businesses, small doctor’s offices have to watch their expenses very carefully. With a limited capacity to see patients, revenue is often tough to increase by getting more “customers”. So they have to focus on costs savings and those will often come from improvements in efficiency.
Often, one of the most inefficient tasks is data entry. Whether this is entering in doctor’s notes, patient information, etc. it doesn’t take highly specialized personnel, and yet it can take a relatively long time compared to the revenues it produces (indirectly). If you calculate the cost of that employee’s time ($/hour) and measure how much of their time is spent just entering data into the system, you’ll probably see that it’s not cheap.
Hiring a data entry firm may be extremely beneficial, financially, for small doctor’s offices and small businesses in general. Many times, the cost per job or cost per hour of outsourcing the required data entry is outright cheaper.
If outsourcing is not obviously cheaper, then it’s possible that a full- or part-time employee position could be replaced with an outsourced company if that position is mostly concerned with data entry.
Alternatively, if no employee position is mostly, or solely focused on data entry, then it’s still possible that the time spent, across all employees, entering information into the system would be better spent on other tasks that better utilize their skillsets to cut costs or improve efficiency.
Speaking of efficiency, it should be noted, that data entry firms are very likely the most efficient way to enter a lot of data. This is for a few reasons:
1) Data entry is their sole job, they get very good at it due to practice and necessity (the more efficient they are, the more they can do and the more customers they can handle).
2) They have the incentive to invest heavily in as much automation as possible, and in doing so, get the best systems.
3) They have the incentive to invest in training their employees to be as efficient and exact as possible to decrease turn-around time and minimize corrections.
So even if outsourcing doesn’t produce a clear financial win, it will almost always produce a time and throughput win.
Obviously one of the largest concerns for any medical business is patient/customer privacy (HIPAA compliance). This will then, naturally, be a big (potential) roadblock for any physician’s office that wants to outsource some, or all, of its data entry. If patient information is to going to be outsourced, then ensure the data entry company is HIPAA compliant. Otherwise, all non-patient related data entry can be outsourced instead.
In summary, even though it is an additional expense, outsourcing data entry to an experienced, HIPAA compliant, firm can be financial beneficial in a number of ways. Run the numbers, see what other business tasks employees could otherwise be doing with their time and see if you should considering outsourcing your office’s data entry work.