Q&A: Revamping a Radiology Practice’s Revenue Cycle Management

April 12, 2011

Radiology Associates of South Florida, one of the largest practices in the country based in Miami-Dade County, recently make a major shift in their revenue cycle management. Here, Dennis Wiseman, RASF’s executive director, discusses why they changed systems, the challenges they faced, and what other practices should know before diving in.

Of course you’d rather been seeing patients than worrying about your practice’s revenue cycle management. But with reclining reimbursements and coding changes, it’s become even more necessary to focus on the financials.

Radiology Associates of South Florida, one of the largest practices in the country based in Miami-Dade County, recently make a major shift in their process in an effort to make the practice more efficient and financially stable. Here, Dennis Wiseman, RASF’s executive director, discusses why they changed revenue cycle management systems, the challenges they faced, and what other practices should know before diving in.

RASF recently changed their revenue management system. What was the problem and how were operations handled before?

RASF had been with the same billing vendor since the inception of the group 43 years ago. Like all radiology practices, we’re faced with decreasing reimbursements within an increasingly complex regulatory environment. Finding ways to adapt more effectively in this new market was a central catalyst in the decision to shift billing companies.

What kinds of metrics or analyses lead you to decide to make a switch?

RASF determined early on that the single-most important thing was finding a vendor partner that could give the practice the best chance to enhance collections for what was billed under any contractual relationship. In the end, we felt McKesson Revenue Management Solutions proved to be the best fit for its needs and culture.

What was the process for selecting a new solution?

In mid-2010, I spent a significant amount of time to create a detailed request for proposal and invited eight companies to compete in the bidding process. The assessment process was painstaking and thorough. The practice spent four months evaluating the responses, interviewing the vendors, conducting reference checks and visiting operational sites.

What was the change management process like? How did you plan for the shift?

Between the date the contract was signed in mid-October and the go-live on Jan. 15, an implementation team from McKesson held multiple onsite sessions to educate physicians about how they could enhance group revenues by improving the billing process and documentation. Under the guidance of a McKesson team leader, all elements of the change – from education and hospital electronic interfaces to the ramp-down of the incumbent vendor – were handled in an orderly, timely and effective fashion.

What were some of the challenges and obstacles you encountered?

Upon completion of RASF’s RFP process, there were concerns about how the change-over ultimately would pan out. But those fears were soon abated as McKesson began its work. I think the documentation education proved to be eye-opening for many of the physicians. Many were surprised to learn that even small changes in dictation and documentation can have a significant impact on how particular services are coded and reimbursed.

Do you have any advice for other practices looking to improve their revenue cycle management?

For other practice groups with concerns about their current billing provider or who are looking for ways to improve performance, we would recommend implementing a bidding process wherein different companies can provide proposals to meet the needs of the particular practice. Conducting site visits to see first-hand what those companies have to offer also is important. Finally, the practice should map out a detailed transition process with an implementation team that works closely with the practice’s management to ensure a smooth transition.