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April 3, 2023

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Considerations for Outsourcing Clinical Services

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As healthcare continues to evolve in response to technological advances, post-pandemic shifts and more, hospitals and health systems must seek a balance between managing costs and providing quality patient care. Each day, I speak with healthcare executives who confront this balance, and in those conversations, one issue arises with regular frequency: whether to employ clinicians across certain key hospital-based services or outsource those critical specialties by aligning with a strategic partner.

Outsourcing Partnerships

Outsourcing partnerships involve a healthcare facility or health system and clinical services provider – like TeamHealth – collaborating to provide key services. For example, hospitals may partner to provide coverage in the emergency department, inpatient floors, anesthesiology, emergent obstetrical cases, acute surgical care and more. Post-acute care facilities may partner with a clinical services provider for physician and advanced practice clinician coverage of their primary care or behavioral health needs, or in some cases, specialty coverage such as cardiology, wound care or pulmonology. When partnering with a national clinical services provider, facilities and systems may also benefit from additional services and innovations, like virtual care.

With a clinical services provider, facilities also have the opportunity to integrate care, where an outsourced partner provides more than one clinical service line, such as emergency department and hospitalist coverage.

Making the Decision

To insource or outsource is an important decision. The structure of clinical departments requires attention on all levels, as the smallest to the broadest aspects can have far-ranging impacts. Financial considerations are some of the most recognizable and usually get the most deliberation. Yet, there are many more factors to consider. Outsourcing partnerships can provide a level of service across the full spectrum of clinical, operational and administrative support a healthcare facility needs.

Considerations for Outsourcing Clinical Services

Decision-makers in this space may feel that insourcing means more control over clinical departments and staff, which could translate to more cost-savings among other perceived benefits. However, many may not consider all the layered requirements around employing their clinicians.

These considerations are much more than just financial necessities – from recruiting and human resources to operational programs and everything in between. Some of the vital areas to consider are:

  • Administration of billing and coding: Do hospital teams have the dedicated education and infrastructure to effectively manage billing and coding responsibilities for professional services?
  • Leadership development and recruitment: Do department leaders have clinical and operational support and guidance from peers in their specialty? Do facilities have the resources to recruit, retain and provide leadership development opportunities for their clinical teams?
  • Improvement and efficiency initiatives: Do teams need to make changes but lack the time or resources to effectively implement performance improvement projects? Is the facility facing a unique challenge that requires innovative solutions?
  • Confronting an evolving healthcare landscape: Do teams have the experts to forecast and the methods to respond to the technological and reimbursement changes that help define an uncertain future?

Successful Clinical Services Partnerships

The decision to outsource key clinical service lines requires hospital leaders to consider many factors. While the in-house approach may seem appealing, it can lead to many unnecessary burdens on facility leaders, added strains on resources and hidden costs that may not always be factored in to the decision. TeamHealth’s decades-long experience in successful strategic partnerships with leading hospitals and health systems means we have the tools, expertise and commitment needed to successfully help operate high-quality, high-efficiency departments. These decisions are complex, but we’re here to help. Reach out to our team to learn more about partnering with TeamHealth.