DoctorCare Spotlight: Group 23 Sports Medicine

Group 23 is an elite sports medicine clinic located in the Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport (formerly Calgary Olympic Park) in Calgary. Starting as a physician team of four, the clinic has grown exponentially over the years with 15 exam and treatment rooms, physiotherapy, massage therapy, weight and lifestyle management, custom bracing, and retail services. Group 23 is a trusted healthcare provider for many professional teams such as the Calgary Flames, the Calgary Stampeders, Hockey Canada, Canadian Olympics Men’s Hockey and more.  

We sat down with Dr. Jim Thorne, one of the founders of Group 23 as well as Jacqueline Hutton, the Chief Operations Officer to learn more about their challenges and how DoctorCare has helped their practice.

“Our staff is facing higher volumes of work than ever before. By having DoctorCare take over a portion of their work off their plate, the staff can focus on delivering high value to physicians and patients and it really does help with job satisfaction.”

Doctor Care: What are some of the billing related challenges that you face at your practice?

Dr. Thorne: A challenge that we’ve faced is making sure that our physicians are capturing all their billings correctly. There are times when we’re super busy and we don’t notice that a patient’s name or the personal health care number isn’t included, which could result in taking a lot of time having to go back in and fix those billings. Personally, I thought I was pretty good at billing – I have 30 years in family medicine and now 35 years in practice, so I thought I wasn’t missing much but I realized there’s lots of income to be found.

Another challenge we face is scope. We have 15 physicians working with us, so it is taxing for our administrative staff to stay on top of the reconciliations. This affects the morale of our staff as they feel overwhelmed with managing the billings for all our doctors when they were used to only taking care of two or three doctors. In addition, staff and physicians often find that the reconciliation process is too much like accounting and they’d rather spend their time with patients.

With our growth we realized the need for professional help in streamlining and efficiencies. There’s a huge number of billings to take care of so it’s great to have a professional service like DoctorCare to help us out.

Hutton: From the business perspective, I appreciate that somebody is doing the work without having a fixed cost on our bottom line. It’s a variable cost so if we add or remove physicians, we’re adding and removing costs accordingly. A challenge we’ve faced is that when our staff go on vacation, we worry about who will take care of our billings. But with DoctorCare, they take that work off our plates, and the revenue is still coming in and being collected as it should be. It’s the peace of mind knowing that our billings are getting taken care of in the background.

DoctorCare: Why did you choose DoctorCare?

Hutton: We agreed to do a pilot because we wanted to make sure that this was going to deliver value for our physicians and for our accounting team.

We basically did a three-step process:

  1. DoctorCare showed us the value they were going to provide before we even signed up for the pilot stage. They set up in our systems and ran some preliminary numbers to show us what we’ve missed over the period even when our billing staff was going back in and fixing our billings. We realized that there were still things being missed that DoctorCare was able to capture.
  2. We conducted a pilot with six of our doctors. The pilot was about 6 months, where they reviewed our billing, fixed any outstanding errors, and sent a monthly report to us.
  3. After seeing the value DoctorCare provided, we decided to sign up all our physicians to the DoctorCare service.

Having the first two steps allowed us to monitor what the financial impact would be for our company. I was able to run the numbers and see the cost benefit analysis of outsourcing our billing on a variable cost versus having it in-house under a fixed cost.

Dr. Thorne: It’s the confidence that we’re going to get compensated for all the hard work that we do. It’s also great to have insight on everyone’s billing and making sure they’re getting paid for their services properly.

DoctorCare: What are some of the improvements you have experienced since working with DoctorCare?

Hutton: We’ve been with DoctorCare for about nine months now and from a business perspective, it’s great knowing that the billings are getting done and done well. Having the visibility of all our physicians’ reports, we can see the value of what was getting missed.

There is also an improvement in staff morale. As Dr. Thorne mentioned, when people feel overwhelmed, especially a high performing staff member, they start feeling a lot of self-doubt and frustration. Our staff is facing higher volumes of work than ever before. By having DoctorCare take over a portion of their work off their plate, the staff can focus on delivering high value to physicians and patients and it really does help with job satisfaction.

Dr. Thorne: From the physician perspective, it’s great knowing ahead of time what the most common errors are. We have been working on making sure our physicians are trying their best to bill right away and not leaving them for the next day. If our physicians are doing their part, DoctorCare can help us do the rest.

And from a business owner perspective, my administrative staff are now more efficiently used. Since most of the billing work is off their plates, our administrative staff can focus on providing the best patient experience.

DoctorCare: Do you have anything you’d like to share with doctors who may be interested in DoctorCare’s services?

Dr. Thorne: DoctorCare’s service more than pays for itself financially. The benefits that we get from DoctorCare outweigh the cost you would otherwise pay for staff to do this as efficiently as them. I also like knowing that we are all getting paid for the services we provide.

Hutton: At first, we were met with some resistance. But we soon saw that our fixed costs can be used better, and our administrative team can do more of the admin work for the physicians rather than focusing on billing.

We often fear when we outsource things that we lose a sense of connection or humanity with the people that we work with, but I haven’t experienced that with DoctorCare. I know the people there by name and we touch base frequently. I’m not just a number and they feel like someone who works with us daily rather than an outsourced provider.

Another plus is that they’re based in Canada. Being a Canadian company and following Canadian requirements for collecting health information and data is important to us and we get peace of mind that our data will not be compromised.

More about Group 23 Sports Medicine Clinic

Group 23 Sports Medicine Clinic is a one stop shop with a massive innovative care team. The “Group” part of its name is their commitment to collaborative care at all levels and the “23” comes from the number of chromosomes that are the physiological building blocks that people are made up of.

Group 23’s goal is to not just bring good medicine to elite athletes but to the community, treating the active population as Olympians or professional athletes. They believe in treating and rehabilitating athletes to #RiseAbove their injury so that they can compete again at an elite level.

Group 23 consists of:

  • 15 physicians and varying FTE
  • 75 to 80 staff and contractors
  • 4000 to 4500 patient encounters per month
  • Patient experience representatives
  • MOAs working in the back end
  • Booking coordinators, injection assistants, and care coordinators

Group 23 services include:

  • Physiotherapy and Massage
  • Sports Medicine
  • Orthopedic Services
  • Dietician & Health Coaches
  • Weight & Lifestyle Management
  • On site retail services
  • Custom bracing (Via Colman Prosthetics & Orthotics)
  • On site imaging (Via EFW Radiology)

To learn more about Group 23 Sports Medicine Clinic, visit their website here.

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