Adding ancillary services to your practice not only acts as an additional revenue stream, but it improves your patient care experience. It’s a win-win for both providers and patients alike. Exactly what are ancillary services, why are ancillary services important, and which are the best to implement for your patient base? To determine what ancillary service your practice should consider adding, let’s first list out the common ancillary services in healthcare.
List of Ancillary Healthcare Services
There are tons of ancillary care services in the healthcare industry. However, unless you are part of a major hospital network, not all of these are necessarily practical to implement in medical offices (more on that below). Here are the three categories of the most common ancillary care services:
Mobile Diagnostic Services
Sleep Laboratory Services
Behavioral and Mental Health Services
Nutrition and Food Service
Care Delivery Services
Home Infusion Care
Medical Day Care
Private Duty Nursing
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Ancillary Healthcare Services: Meeting the Bottom Line
With a wealth of ancillary services at your disposal, which is going to be most cost-effective for providers? This question largely revolves around the patients any given practice is serving. Opening ancillary care facilities at existing medical offices can be an expensive project, depending on what you are planning to offer. Some services, like food and nutrition education, require few upstart costs, while others, like lab testing, require expensive equipment and potential construction costs. Not to mention staffing fees, accreditation, additional rent costs, and legal fees. With cost in the picture, consider how these ancillary services might benefit your overall workflow:
Convenience – When providers refer a patient to ancillary care providers for medical treatment, they lose out on potential revenue. Patients are also frustrated by making multiple trips. Lab testing and ECG services are two of the most common ancillary services for this reason. Offering these will provide a steady stream of revenue and make your practice a one-stop shop.
Understanding Your Patients – What ancillary service are you most commonly referring patients to? This is a great starting point not only for understanding what revenue you might be losing out on, but also what your patients would like to see at your practice. Revenue cycle management helps you understand which areas of your business you can improve.
What Are Other Physicians Offering – Having ancillary care options that other physicians do not can make your business model competitive, but only if the need already exists. Conversely, services like medical spas are attractive to aging populations, but high demand has made them one of the fastest-growing sectors and thus extremely competitive. Find your healthcare niche and promote it.
Adding ancillary services to your practice is a business decision that will offer affordable benefits to patients, but not all services make sense for any given practice. Custodial services, which typically include residential care or home health services, are the most difficult to implement, while diagnostic healthcare services provide the greatest benefits.
Common Strategies For Ancillary Healthcare Services
Aside from the cost, legal ramifications around ancillary services tend to be one of the greatest pitfalls that practitioners face when onboarding these care options. Working with people that already have experience in the field can help you avoid these problems. Here are a few things to look at before you implement ancillary care in your practice:
Analyze Your Customers’ Existing Needs
Ancillary care services are a tool, not a passion project. As such, they should benefit your existing client base and draw in new customers. An electronic medical record is a great tool for understanding what services you are referring other patients to the most. Identifying these is an excellent starting point. During visits with patients, asking them if they would be interested in these health services or sending out surveys will derive useful information about what they want. It also adds lip service to potential ventures.
Consult Legal Experts and Colleagues
Early on in the process, it is recommended that you speak with legal experts. Rental agreements, managed care agreements, and medical liability policies all factor into ancillary care in unexpected ways—compliance is essential to this process. To avoid expensive durable medical equipment costs, most physicians choose to form a partnership with a vendor. This is an affordable choice that will allow you to quickly get these services running, but comes with its own problems. Anti-kickback laws are not something to be trifled with, and violating them can land hefty fines and even jail time.
Talk With Payors
In order for ancillary services to be cost-effective, payors must be willing to provide beneficial reimbursements for your new offerings. This is a conversation many providers are unprepared for in regard to ancillary contracting. When speaking with payors, getting the best contracts is essential. Unfortunately, hiring full-time medical staff to fulfill this function is expensive in its own right. That’s why it’s important to get expert help.
Connect With Our Team of Experts
Payrhealth is a full-service payor-provider relationship manager. We see a future where providers and payors can make more informed decisions together to build a strengthened healthcare system. Learn more through a free consultation with our world-class experts today.
Horizon Blue. What Are Ancillary Services? https://www.horizonblue.com/sgs/tools-services/find-doctor/what-are-ancillary-services
RevelMD. 5 Ancillary Services to Increase Your Practice Revenue. https://www.revelemd.com/blog/5-ancillary-services-to-increase-your-practice-revenue Medical Economics. Grow Your Practice With Ancillary Services. https://www.medicaleconomics.com/view/grow-your-practice-ancillary-services
MGMA. One-Stop Shopping: Finding the Right Level of Ancillary Service For Your Practice. https://www.mgma.com/event-registration/mgma18-the-operations-conference/session-handouts/con401-finding-the-right-level-of-ancillary-servic
MedConverge. Ancillary Services to Increase Revenue for Your Medical Practice. https://www.medconverge.com/2016/05/19/ancillary-services-to-increase-revenue-for-your-medical-practice/