Blog

April 2nd, 2014

gloStream_Apr02_AIn a surprising move, the House of Representatives approved a bill that includes a delay to mandatory ICD-10 implementation until October 2015. After the announcement we are sure that many medical practices breathed a long sigh of relief.

The problem: Without a fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, Medicare physicians face a 24% reimbursement cut beginning April 1. This is obviously something that does not sit well with many of the country's medical practitioners - and rightly so. No one wants to see hard-earned profits sink because of a medical bill.

Joseph Pitts introduced a bill, H.R. 4302, that proposed to replace the reimbursement cut with a 0.5% payment update through the end of 2014 and a 0% percent payment update from January 1 through March 311, 2015.

The American Medical Association, which wants payment stability for its constituents, responded by urging House of Representatives members to vote down the proposed legislation. The code sets were caught in the crossfire.

Note: Before the ICD-10 delay takes place (and the SGR fix becomes permanent), the Senate must vote on the proposed legislation and President Obama must sign it into law. It would be a good idea to keep abreast of this issue because it will likely directly affect your practice.

If you are looking for help upgrading to ICD-10, or ensuring your practice meets established standards, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 1st, 2014

HealthcareGeneral_Feb25_AThe Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has issued proposals for 2015 electronic health record (EHR) certification criteria.

Notably, implementation of the 2015 certification criteria is voluntary. Health-care providers that have EHRs certified to the 2014 criteria do not need to re-certify to 2015 criteria to participate in meaningful use. The idea, says the ONC, is that EHR developers and health-care providers can move to the 2015 criteria at their own pace.

This is the first time the ONC has proposed certification criteria separate from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' meaningful-use regulations, and the change marks a new regulatory approach. The ONC will likely make more frequent changes to rules to improve standards. National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo says it reflects the “ONC's commitment to incrementally improving interoperability and efficiently responding to stakeholder feedback.”

Comments will be accepted on the proposed rule - published in the Federal Register on February 26, 2014 - through April 28. If you are looking to learn more about this change and how you can implement it in your practice, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 6th, 2014

HealthcareIT_Feb06_ARecently, a server of a Texas health-care system was hacked, compromising the protected health-care records of approximately 405,000 individuals.

The three-day attack, which took place in December of 2013 at the five-hospital St. Joseph Health System in Bryan, Texas, was one of the largest HIPAA security breaches ever, according to Department of Health and Human Services. It gave the hackers access to both patient and employee Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and addresses as well as confidential health-care information.

The incident is not isolated. In March 2012, another attack, this time reported by the Utah Department of Health, gave the same information of some 780,000 individuals to hackers.

St. Joseph Health System quickly took the affected server offline and launched an investigation with national security and computer forensics experts. That being said, The incident underscores the importance of data security as more and more health-care data goes digital.

The best course of action a practice can take is to work with a trusted systems provider who has a track record in not only keeping data safe but ensuring that attacks are minimized. A great provider will help a practice like yours implement security measures before the attack happens, greatly reducing the chance of data being compromised. They will also work with you to ensure that should an attacker gain access to your systems, the data contained is secure.

Are you prepared? If not, an IT specialist like us can work with you to ensure your patient data is protected. Contact us to today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 2nd, 2014

HealthcareGeneral_Jan02_A

As 2013 came to a close, we looked back at the health-care information technology (IT) stories that most captivated the industry. Some were bad (because bad news makes headlines), but some were also good. Here are five topics we found most intriguing.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) faced a class-action lawsuit over the theft of 60 million medical records. Allegations arose that the IRS improperly accessed the health records of 10 million Americans, including those of California state judges.

Unhappy electronic medical record (EMR) users began switching systems. With numerous EMRs falling short of providers' expectations, Black Book Rankings reported that 2013 may have been the "year of the great EHR vendor switch."

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made sweeping changes to HIPAA. An eagerly awaited set of regulations in the health-care arena arrived on January 17 when HHS issued modifications to the HIPAA privacy, security, enforcement and breach notification rules.

More physicians began sharing their written notes with patients. It’s a growing trend, and not such a bad idea, says one industry attorney and consultant.

Google Glass arrived. It was the most anticipated new gadget since the smartphone, and potentially transformative - but it came with controversy, and how it will be used in health care is yet to be seen. That being said, there could be some interesting uses especially in surgery or even diagnosing patients - wouldn't it be cool to be able to call up a record that you can read without paper!

If you are looking to learn more about how these stories affect your practice, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 3rd, 2013

HealthcareIT_Dec03_AChoosing the right electronic medical record (EMR) can make or break a medical practice. That being said, there are still a number of health-care providers who often make the wrong choice. The reason: When choosing an EMR, it’s important to know how the system collects patient data, improves reimbursement, and reduces transcription costs, to name a few things.

But doctors often go to vendor meetings without a list of the features they want, and don’t even know what questions to ask. Instead, they select systems that are flashy but fundamentally difficult to use. To get the necessary information, here are 10 questions to ask about an EMR before buying:

  1. How will the EMR work with my existing systems, including scheduling and practice management?
  2. Can the EMR be customized within my existing workflow and time constraints - and who will do the customization?
  3. Can you provide a demonstration with an existing practice similar in specialty, size and workflow - in person or via a Webinar to my entire staff, including scheduling, billing, nursing and record management?
  4. Can you provide a list of similar-sized practices with similar specialties I can call for references?
  5. What training and support are included with my purchase?
  6. Do you provide dedicated support for new client implementations?
  7. What is the typical response time?
  8. What are future support and maintenance charges?
  9. What are future licensing fees?
  10. Do you offer a 120-day escape clause in case you don’t supply adequate training, customization or support?
If you are looking for an EMR system for your practice, please contact us today to see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 4th, 2013

GeneralHealthcare_Nov04_AThe go-live deadline for ICD-10 isn’t until October 2014, but some health-care organizations are ahead of the curve - and they can offer some good advice for other practitioners.

Start early. While many health-care organizations are ahead of the curve with ICD-10 implementation, with plans to turn on ICD-10 codes and let physicians use them as early as spring 2014, that doesn’t mean they’ll be submitting claims to payers in ICD-10 ahead of time; it simply means that they’ll be practicing. Even if you can do some dual coding, it will help.

Increase awareness. The first step in moving to ICD-10 is awareness. Key staff members need to understand the requirements, the timelines, and any financial impacts. To ensure awareness, some health-care organizations are offering educational seminars, in person or online.

Designate change agents. You can’t implement ICD-10 alone, which is why you’ll need physician champions. This means giving certain physicians the ability to take ICD-10 back into their departments and communicate it to their teams.

Offer peer-to-peer training. Chances are physicians in your organization don’t want someone without an understanding of their specialties to train them for ICD-10. The solution: Let physicians offer the training, once they understand the ICD-10 codes themselves.

If you are looking for a way to better prepare for or implement ICD-10, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 2nd, 2013

HealthcareIT_Oct02_AHealth-care providers may be racing to adopt electronic medical records (EMRs) and collect federal incentive payments, but few are stopping to explain how it all works to patients - and that can be a mistake, according to a new survey.

The fourth annual Xerox EMR survey asked more than 2,000 U.S. adults how they felt about their doctor’s current or future use of EMRs. The answer: Only 29 percent had even been informed that their medical records would be converted to digital format, and only 32 percent want the change. The vast majority - 83 percent - have significant concerns about the privacy and security of EMRs.

While those numbers are a small improvement over the results in previous years, they still indicate that health-care providers need to do a better job educating their patients about EMRs if they want to empower them to take charge of their own health care.

Also, remember: If you’re seeking to earn meaningful use Stage 2 incentives, you have one year to make patients’ medical records available via online portals, and you must get at least 5 percent of patients to access the data. That’s going to be a challenge, as only 19 percent of the U.S. adults surveyed have access to their medical records online.

If you are looking for ways to get your files online and shared, please contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 30th, 2013

GeneralHealthcare_Aug29_AICD-10 are a set of new medical diagnostic codes that will be used beginning October 1, 2014, but a new study shows that many health-care providers still don’t understand the value of these codes.

The study, conducted by eHealth Initiative and the American Health Information Management Association, shows that many health-care providers are focusing on the challenging parts of the transition to ICD-10. “They believe they are going to lose money and that it will negatively impact workflow," said eHealth Initiative CEO Jennifer Covich Bordenick in a news release.

In fact, with ICD-10, the medical code set was expanded to improve the quality of care with more specific data. Properly used, ICD-10 could lead to enhanced performance and outcome measurement, quality improvement and even higher revenue.

Given that 26% of survey respondents reported that they had no specific goals to leverage ICD-10 other than for claims processing, however, capturing these benefits of the new code set could be a challenge.

One key to successful implementation is proper staffing and training, changes to workflows and any necessary software upgrades. Your IT provider can help you navigate the changes of ICD-10 for the benefit of your practice, and you still have time, given the one-year delay of ICD-10 compliance implemented by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide health-care providers with additional time to prepare.

If you are looking to upgrade, we strongly recommend you start today so you can have systems tested, in place and staff that are used to them well before October of next year. Contact us today to see how we can make the transition easy.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 31st, 2013

HealthcareIT_July31_AHealth care, which has always been based on the doctor-patient interaction is facing a challenge in the era of meaningful use stage 2: How do you reconcile the importance of in patient-doctor interactions with the need for standardized structured data capture?

For many health-care providers, the start of meaningful use stage 2 in 2014 will bring more rigorous standards for the capture of data, including demographic information, encounter diagnosis, lab results, allergies and medications. Documenting this data in a structured fashion is important for maintaining accuracy when moving patient data to other settings, and thereby facilitating more efficient care.

However, many physicians are used to taking free-text notes from patient interactions, and feel that the structured documentation required by meaningful use stage 2 will be an onerous process.

It may not be all that bad, however. The codified information required by meaningful use stage 2 allows for easy aggregation and retrieval of data, and that benefits patients and providers alike. Physicians will be able to query databases and obtain patient information quickly. This will streamline the physician’s workflow, allowing him or her to give more informed care.

Many electronic medical record (EMR) providers recognize this conundrum, and thus many EHRs on the market today address the issue, allowing physicians to interact with them in a way that is perfectly natural. If you are looking for a more natural EMR that will allow you to take notes the way you prefer, contact us today to see what we have to offer.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 3rd, 2013

Healthcarenews_July03_AIf you’re seeking to improve your financial performance, adding another provider or payer isn’t the only option; optimizing claims and collections could work just as well if not better. Here are five ways to do that.

Review your fee schedule. Believe it or not, some practices aren’t capturing all of the revenue to which they’re entitled. Compare your fee schedule to your insurance contracts to ensure that you’re charging the maximum allowable amounts.

Check patient eligibility in advance. Looking into patient eligibility, including changes of insurance, prior to the office visit will decrease claim denials and subsequent follow-up work, which can be costly in terms of administrative staff's time. Take co-payments at the time of service. Billing patients for co-payments can delay revenue collection. Instead, take co-payments at the time of service. In addition to increasing daily revenues, this reduces the number of statements sent out, which reduces administrative staff time and the cost of office supplies and postage.

Collect past-due balances at time of service. While this may not always be possible, it will work in some cases, which will, again, increase your daily revenue and reduce the number of statements sent out, thereby reducing the time administrative staff spends on this activity and the cost of office supplies and postage.

Transfer balances quickly. Once an insurer has paid, you’ll need to transfer the balance due to the patient. Any delays in this process delay your revenue intake. Check your process and automate it wherever possible.

Many of these steps require new procedures (such as notifying patients that they have outstanding balances and that they will be asked to make payment at their next visit). Many also require open communication between staff members who schedule appointments and those who handle billing. Technology, however, can help, and the payoff can be tremendous.

If you are looking for an effective way to increase your billings, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.