Alyson Tiedeman is the director of practice management at South Florida Medicine, a large multispecialty group of over 100 physicians in urology, oncology, surgery, surgical oncology, thoracic surgery, and radiation. Tiedman oversees contracting and credentialing, implementations and on-boarding, integration and training, billing and revenue cycle management, practice management, financial infrastructure, accounting, banking and cash management, as well as the operations and administration of SFM’s 70 locations.
What sort of IT challenges arise with a medical group of SFM’s size? How do you ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to moving forward with healthcare IT projects, and improving patient experience and clinical outcomes?
Some of our practices are still on paper. Even though we encourage them, we do not mandate that a practice leverages our IT infrastructure. This can present challenges as we look to implement greater connectivity strategies. Today, the majority of our practices have an EHR (there are currently seven different systems in use), and all of our practices are required to use our centralized billing services. SFM has also implemented a best practice in which we measure the success of both our central billing office and CareCloud PM system against a set of core billing and collections metrics. Monthly tracking of first-pass pay rates with payers and days in accounts receivables are not just critical for the overall success of the practice, but for the successful retention and recruitment of member physicians.
How much control does SFM give its physician members in terms of selecting healthcare IT systems?
SFM has embraced a flexible business model that allows physician members to leverage a common administrative and IT infrastructure. SFM’s hybrid IT model has allowed our group to expand rapidly, while negotiating better payer contracts for our members and gaining predictability around administrative costs along the way.
To be a successful group, you need to be able to offer choices to member physicians, especially when you support as many specialties as we do. Meaningful Use has been one of the key drivers of this for our group and getting our members to adopt IT and use it successfully.
Why did SFM decide to move to a centralized cloud-based PM system? Was each location using its own system prior to adopting CareCloud?
SFM has found that one size may not fit all when it comes to IT infrastructure; however, there are certain aspects of the business that need to be standardized, especially for compliance purposes. Given the diversity of our member practices and the speed with which they have joined, SFM offers a flexible model by which members can still choose to use their existing EHR system. At the same time, members can opt to have SFM handle revenue cycle management or stick with their current billing and collections staff. With CareCloud’s technology at the heart, disparate solutions can be integrated into the common platform so all parts work together seamlessly.
What’s next in terms of technology implementations for the practice?
Currently, we want to have all of our practices using an EHR as that lends to stronger clinical outcomes and overall operational benefits. All of our practices are required to use CareCloud’s PM system as we bill under one tax ID, and this helps facilitate that for our group.
It seems that a medical group of this size might be able to tell a compelling story for health information exchange. How are your physicians sharing information amongst each other, local hospitals, and beyond? Is SFM formally plugged into a HIE in Florida at the moment?
Although we encourage HIE for our group, we are not formally involved on the multispecialty side. However, our member physicians do exchange clinical information with outside clinicians and care delivery organizations, and are therefore very much involved in HIE.
Bonus Question: What benefits have you seen result from smaller physician groups joining SFM, especially with regard to healthcare IT?
With the direction that healthcare is going, the trends have changed and a small, one-to-five physician practice can find it very difficult to thrive in this environment, especially with ongoing Medicare cuts. Combining forces leads to many benefits, such as increased profitability by way of reduced overhead costs (IT and otherwise), higher payer contacts, better supply rates, increased referral sources, and the overall support and expertise of a bigger organization, just to name a few.