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When bills are making hospital accountants sick

by Heather Mayer, DOTmed News Reporter | October 11, 2010
This report originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of DOTmed Business News

Bills. For people everywhere, it’s almost a curse word. For hospital accounting departments dealing with bills is a daunting task, especially with new rules and regulations continually cropping up. It’s easy to understand how hospitals and private practices can become overwhelmed with invoices for all of their services, but using a diagnostic service organization can help providers cut costs and whittle down paperwork. DSOs are becoming more popular as health care facilities look to cut costs but maintain quality care for their patients.

According to a recent report published by Choice Health Care Partners, a national physician practice advisory group, DSOs will continue to increase their U.S. market share over the next few years.

“Rather than being an option, practices are forced, given what’s going on [in the economy and with reimbursement rates], to look at numbers and seek options to stay afloat,” says Avi Soffer, CEO of University Nuclear and Diagnostics, a DSO for nuclear cardiac imaging. “DSOs, which were optional, are becoming a go-to solution to combat the issues.”

A DSO basically takes over a facility and assumes the responsibilities and costs of operations, condensing all the necessary tasks into just one invoice for the hospital to deal with. The key to saving money, explains Soffer, is consolidating the labor.

UND was able to save one Georgia-based client nearly $300,000 annually, or 37 percent. The DSO took over services that include personnel, isotopes, log maintenance, license updates, equipment calibrations, radiation safety officer services, equipment logs and calibration, patient scheduling, pre- and post-test patient education and ICANL certification

Cardiology practices are frequently turning to DSOs, says Soffer, largely because of poor reimbursements for tests, like nuclear stress testing, and expensive lab costs. He points out that cardiology labs, which rely heavily on nuclear testing, need help from a cost-saving DSO.

While the market for DSOs is growing, there aren’t necessarily more organizations out there. The CHCP report suggests consolidation in the industry as bigger DSO groups acquire complementary organizations that will help them offer complete services to their clients. For example, a DSO specializing in nuclear testing may bring on nuclear camera service companies for comprehensive services.

“As a DSO, a good organization can take on many, many practices on a national basis,” says Soffer.