The opportunity cost of patient record requests

The opportunity cost of patient record requests

What is the opportunity cost of responding to patient record requests? We’ve been dealing with HIPPA for many years now. While patients do have a right to see their medical records, as providers, we’re bound by regulations on how to respond, timeframes, and what we can charge.


Some records can be hundreds of pages long, which includes a lot of paper and toner. However, you also need to account for the time a member of your administrative staff spends on finding, copying, and mailing or giving the records to the patient.


HIPPA only allows us to charge for the cost of producing the records, but that creates an opportunity cost. The recommended fee for an individual request from a patient is $6.50, which barely covers the cost of producing the records.


What actually happens when your team responds to a request for patient records


When a patient or authorized party requests a copy of their medical records, your practice needs to respond within 30 days. If possible, you should have a staff member who is responsible for responding to patient record requests. That person needs to find the patient record, make a copy, and deliver the documents to the patient.


Depending on your practice and the needs of the patient, you have options on how to respond. You may want to mail the records to the patient or ask them to come in to collect the records when a staff member is available to answer any questions. Or, you could invest in an electronic health records system that allows you to automate your response to save time and money.


How much does it cost you to respond


The primary cost of responding to patient record requests is your employee’s time. Let’s say that it costs you $16 per hour for your administrator who is responsible for patient record requests. If you have an old, hard to navigate, or a paper system, your staff could need an hour to process four requests. At 6.50 per request, you receive $26 for those requests, netting you $10.


But you’re not going to get rich on $10 in profits per hour and will suffer the opportunity cost.


What’s the opportunity cost


Opportunity cost is the loss of potential gain when you choose one alternative over another. Imagine that instead of spending their time manually responding to patient record requests, your staff member called through your patient roster to encourage patients to book their annual physical. Hypothetically, assume your staff member calls 20 patients in an hour and can talk to six patients. Ultimately, they schedule four appointments. If each annual physical generates $150, that means that their time could generate you $600 in income. What would you prefer your team to spend their time doing?


How to stop wasting time and money on patient record requests


You can reduce the time that your staff spends on patient requests by investing in a simple to use EHR and patient record system that allows you to automatically generate patient records. Technology can cut down the time your staff spends on printing or digging through files. ePaper Road is FREE software. It allows you to be completely free of the work associated with responding to patient record requests quickly. As a result, you can enable your team to spend their time more productively.