Cloud Computing to the Rescue?

Eighty-eight percent of group practice business managers fear the financial ramifications of their outdated revenue cycle management systems will force the sale of their entire practice to a larger group or hospital within 12 months, according to a new study from Black Book Rankings. But 97% believe that a new seamless, integrated revenue cycle/EHR/practice management system —such as one that uses cloud computing technology — would help ensure their practice’s long-term independence.

Clearwater, Fla.-based Black Book recently released the first of eight research reports on the 2013 State of the Revenue Cycle Management Industry, titled “Top Physician Practice Management & Revenue Cycle Management: Ambulatory EHR Vendors.” The research is based on a survey the firm conducted between April and August among 8,000 CFOs, CIOs, administrators and support staff of hospitals and physician practices.

It found that while 72% of physician practices anticipate declining profitability as the result of inefficient billing and records systems, the promise of new technologies have resulted in an overwhelming desire to remain independent.

“Profit challenges have forced the number of practices actively seeking acquisition to more than triple until recently, as cloud EHR with RCM innovations have given independents new hope,” says Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book Market Research LLC, the parent company of Black Book Rankings.

Physicians are trying myriad new technologies before they entertain takeover offers, according to the survey. For example of the 42% of respondents that indicated they are considering an upgrade of their revenue cycle management system within the next six to 12 months, 92% said they are only looking at EHR centric applications. Additionally, 71% said are considering a combination of new software and outsourcing services to improve their revenue cycle systems.

Further, 63% of respondents indicated that upgrading technology was necessary for group practices that are in the market for a buyer. However, 98% said that short-sighted IT purchases, as part of practice selloff plans, actually devalue a practice’s worth.

Respondents also overwhelmingly (89%) indicated they were looking for a single-source system for their new technologies. The same amount also said they would rather work with a vendor, rather than outsourcing or using a consulting firm for the upgrade.

The survey also dives into the various vendor applications designed to offer an integrated practice management, EHR and billing system. While it ranks Kareo Inc., as the top vendor for EHR, revenue cycle and practice management applications, it also lists Care360/Quest Diagnostics, Care Cloud, athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Vitera, McKesson Corp., Optum, Simplify MD, Greenway Medical, Practice Fusion, GE HealthCare, Epic, e-MDs, NextGen, Allscripts, ChartLogic, ADP Advanced MD and Henry Schein MicroMD as top contenders.