We spoke with Anne Slam about the biggest challenges facing practice administrators, what it takes to keep a healthy practice running, why RCM services seem threatening and more.
Today From the Community, we’re speaking with Anne Slam, the practice administrator at Eastern Connecticut Hematology and Oncology (ECHO).
Anne has been ECHO’s practice administrator for over 30 years. She thoroughly enjoys the ever-changing landscape of oncology and healthcare in general. As a cancer survivor herself, she is committed to ensuring that every aspect of the patient experience runs smoothly and efficiently. She recognizes that it has been the teamwork and commitment of each employee that has brought success to ECHO. Outside of her role at ECHO, Anne enjoys her lifelong passion of boating with her husband and dog aboard the “Grand Slam”.
Flatiron: So you’re the practice administrator for ECHO, can you tell us a bit about what that’s like a day-to-day basis and some of the challenges you face to keep your practice running?
Anne: Well, as a practice admin at ECHO, there’s a huge administrative burden because you don’t have layers of administration that a larger organization might have—there’s just you. Flatiron is able to produce reports and anything we need so that I can report back to our physicians, but before working with Flatiron RCM, I was trying to put all of that together by myself, and it could take days.
As a practice admin at ECHO, there’s a huge administrative burden because you don’t have layers of administration that a larger organization might have—there’s just you.
Flatiron: So would you say the biggest problem that a practice administrator faces is a lack of time to get things done? Or a lack of resources to help you save time?
Anne: The biggest problem, I would say, is creating reports with accurate data. It’s more important now than ever to use analytics to work with insurance providers, contracting and more. A lack of accurate reporting also means that you can’t tell where processes are breaking, or where you have gaps in your system.
Flatiron: So it seems like a big problem, for you, is not having accurate data. What problems do you think better data could solve?
Anne: So many! Building value-based contracts, for one. The ability to do things better than your competition. And initial shadowing—we knew there were process breakdowns, but we couldn’t identify them. Basically, we knew they existed but we couldn’t report on them to build accountability.
Flatiron: We’re glad that Flatiron and ECHO have been able to partner together on RCM services. Is there anything that our partnership has helped with, in terms of helping these specific problems? You can be honest!
Anne: Absolutely. Something I’m most proud of now is how we can react in regards to denials. If a patient gets a denial, we are monitoring whether they have upcoming treatments to limit the risk to the practice and the patient. Implementing this process with the Flatiron RCM team enabled us to involve the patient at a much earlier phase—you need to involve your patients. Before, we’d have patients come four or five times before we’d receive payment, so now we can make an informed decision on treating the patient
Before Flatiron RCM, we’d have patients come four or five times before we’d receive payment, so now we can make an informed decision on treating the patient.
Flatiron: What do you think has really helped our collaboration together with RCM?
Anne: Well, it’s people. The team that you work with makes the difference. You have to make sure that you have that relationship and that trust. The RCM service seemed threatening to our staff, but Marcie was really aware of that, which was a big help. Our staff has built relationships with people at Flatiron, and that helps to ease that worry.
Flatiron: We know the day-to-day of a practice administrator can include so much. How has your day-to-day changed as a result of the Flatiron RCM partnership?
Anne: A lot of the administrative burden and oversight has come off of my plate. I’ve been able to shift my and my leaderships’ focus onto patients.
Flatiron: We’re so happy to hear that. One last question—will we be seeing you at OncoCloud Virtual this year?
Anne: I’ll be there! As long as it’s not on the weekend...
Flatiron: It's September 20–24 this year, so only weekdays! We’re looking forward to seeing you at OncoCloud Virtual.