The number of staff involved in oncology today has increased vastly in recent years due mainly to the increased administrative burden. Where an oncologist could previously run a practice with just a few non-clinical employees, many more are now needed to cope with the complicated billing and insurance systems.
Major Reasons for Recruiting More Staff
Clinical staffing has become increasingly difficult and expensive for oncologists who have to find the right people to deal with all today’s administrative demands. Billing is more complicated, a new coding system has been introduced and there are multiple insurance companies to deal with.
Preauthorizations need to be obtained for the chemotherapy drugs to be used and depending on who is paying the costs there can be different administrative needs. Whereas preauthorization in the past could often be obtained the same day, now it is common to wait between three and five days and in some cases it can be as long as two weeks.
In addition to submitting requests, staff need to monitor progress to ensure that it is going through. Due to different contracts and protocols different staff may be needed for private payers, Medicare payers and Medicaid type payers.
New Drug Options
The increase in drug options over the last decade is another reason for increased staffing needs. Because many of these new drugs are so expensive, payers require the submission of a great deal of clinical data in advance and this is very time consuming for the staff responsible for this.
Companies such as G and l scientific are seeing increased business, aiding the recruitment of clinical professionals needed by oncology practices.
According to the Journal of Oncology Practice the increasing cost of these new drugs is detrimental to patients and the health care system in the US. There is no doubt that because they are so expensive the insurance companies are insisting on more rigorous proof that the patient needs them, and there are more cases of denial than in the past.
Employees in oncology practices are also finding that they need to take on additional roles as demands increase. Staff may be needed to oversee clinical trials, manage drug inventories, handle referrals and insurance authorizations. Consultants can rationalize staffing and help with reorganization for greater efficiency and cost savings.