The Rise of Outpatient Care

Hospitals have a common challenge when it comes to outpatient care. Usage is up, and is only continuing to grow and demand more resources. There are a number of reasons this is happening. First of all, hospitals typically receive higher reimbursement rates from their outpatient departments when compared to physician offices. So naturally they want to divert care to these areas to maximize their reimbursement potential. Recent research from Definitive illustrates this point with the revelation that in 2014, over half of hospitals’ net patient revenue came from outpatient care.

Furthermore, as organizations try to reduce unnecessary admissions and lower costs, this situation becomes even more urgent. Not only are the reimbursement rates higher, but the focus on chronic conditions and preventative medicine help hospitals reduce unnecessary admissions.

The trend is clear. But the process of getting patients scheduled appointments into these outpatient centers is still foggy. Many times patients are left to take care of it themselves with merely a name and number scribbled on some paper. Hospitals need to have online scheduling capabilities to close each step with a booking.

Digitally systematizing the booking process has other benefits as well. When organizations schedule outpatient and ambulatory services online, they can gather lots of valuable data. Proper analysis of this data can reveal important insights, such as how to better utilize their capacity. Why do so few analytics tools available today barely touch scheduling and capacity management? Because the lion’s share of scheduling data resides outside of their current data warehouses, or not at all. As a result, PM systems are notoriously poor in this area of reporting.

In the above mentioned Definitive report, you will notice the diagnosis for screenings such as mammogram and colonoscopy rank high. Because these are common areas of disconnect in scheduling, care coordination efforts to keep these revenues in network with the highest quality and lowest cost providers is crucial.

As this trend continues into 2017, the ability to consolidate scheduling systems and enabling care to occur will become essential for success. To learn more, read our free report on reducing readmissions with smarter care coordination.