Securing revenue: Are Physician Practices Doomed to Administrative Burden?

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (AIM) found that physicians spend twice as much time on administrative tasks as they do on patient care. That is disturbing on many levels; it shows that burgeoning regulations are forcing physicians to become defacto accountants, billers, coders, and practice managers rather than the health care providers that are trained to be. IT also shows that patients are losing out on time with their physicians because of regulatory burdens.

The study reported in AIM analyzed 57 physicians practicing in four specialties in four different states. On office days these physicians spent 27 percent of their time on direct patient care and 49 percent of their time on administrative work. The looming question is this; how are physician practices to survive if they can’t spend time on the very thing that generates revenue – patient care?

Physicians rate the regulations they must operate under as “very” or “extremely” burdensome. The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) 2017 Regulatory Burden Survey showed that as medical groups strive to improve patient care while improving operational efficiency, nearly 50 percent are spending more than $40,000 per FTE physician, per year, to comply with federal regulations. Seemingly, everyone agrees that we have reached an untenable situation. Regulations aren’t going to be rescinded quickly if at all, so the only answer is to streamline the time it takes to comply with the regulations.

Ending the cycle

There are ways to reduce administrative time and increase the time spent on patient care. It requires practice systems that accurately and quickly capture charges to enhance revenue cycle management. Traditional, paper based practices result in waste and inefficiency. Every time paper is lost, revenue is lost right along with it. Competitive practices require a charge capture system with razor’s edge precision and streamlined functions.

Let’s talk charge capture

Rapid, accurate charge capture can avoid numerous paper-driven tasks and take the provider directly from patient care to charge capture to biller. What’s the benefit? Avoiding losses that can add up to more than $270,000 for larger group practices. That’s the amount that is estimated to be lost every year from missed charges when patient encounters are tracked by a paper trail. For practices that are constantly seeking new sources of income, that is money easily found and captured through the implementation of the right charge capture systems.

Let’s be clear, not every technology is good for healthcare. In fact many aren’t. Practices should avoid selecting what we like to call the “cart-before-the-horse” technologies. Those are the technologies that were developed for some other purpose and then they are scooped up and adapted for healthcare. It never works and that’s not what you want. You want technology that is developed with a street level, first hand knowledge of the complex machinations of practice management. You want the technologies that can quickly and seamlessly solve many challenges, including charge capture, billing, coding and revenue management.

Mobile patient tracking and charge capture puts you in the high speed lane to increased revenue. It enables you to enter charges through a mobile device immediately after seeing the patient and sync it with coders and billers. ICD-10 has ramped up the requirements for coding detail. Mobile charge capture also means the immediate capture of important care details that will avoid denied claims. When you use technology that ensures that patient encounters are captured accurately and submitted in a timely manner to coders and billers you increase revenue – it’s that simple.

It is possible to have HIPAA compliant, secure messaging and mobile upload of patient charges in the palm of your hand. It is possible to increase revenue, reduce headaches, enhance communications and relieve administrative time each day. That’s the win-win in the midst of a field filled with what can be crushing regulatory burdens.

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maxRVU is now an Affinity Vendor for the American Osteopathic Association

We are delighted to announce that maxRVU has been selected for inclusion in the Affinity Vendor program with the American Osteopathic Association.

The American Osteopathic Association’s (AOA) mission is to advance the practice of osteopathic medicine. Serving as the professional family for more than 129,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) promotes public health and encourages scientific research. In addition to serving as the primary certifying body for DOs, the AOA is the accrediting agency for all osteopathic medical schools.

maxRVU has grown rapidly over the last few years, and today it plays an integral part of hospitals and independent group practices across the nation for their charge capture and rounding needs. Capturing all patient charges is a vital component of every healthcare provider and organization and it should not be time-consuming. With maxRVU, we eliminate the frustrating inefficiencies of faxing face sheets, tracking index cards or paper charge tickets that lead to significant revenue leakage and time loss. It reduces time to bill by up to 85%, improving cash flow and reduces operational costs increasing revenues. maxRVU is in use across various physician groups and hospitals and across multiple specialties. It enhances communications among providers, assistants and billers and it is fully interoperable with any EHR.

We recognize that technology is a major contributor to creating increased efficiency and driving greater productivity for our clients. We’re looking forward to providing value to AOA members using our charge capture and rounding technology to optimize their workflow and revenues.

Hey Doc, You Need a Vacation. Yes, There is Time For That.

Planning a summer vacation can sound very stressful for a busy physician. They need to hand-off patients to an available colleague who is probably also busy.

IMG_2341Call duties, shifts and billing paperwork need to get covered too. After everything has been arranged and the trip starts, there comes a time when they begin to check their phones or computers. Vacation Fail!

Relax we can help!

After you block your vacation days ahead of time and find someone who can cover for you, the real struggle begins. You start spending a lot of time to finish old paperwork, billing, and reports. You also need more time to hand in all the documents and information that your colleague needs to cover everything successfully. All this can be very easy instead.

Think of an HIPAA compliant mobile and web application that securely connects physicians with their billers and assistants in real time. Providers in the same group can access the list of patients, add session charges and submit to the billing office in seconds. Handoff patients for cross cover in a tap so your colleague can add new sessions and bill for those charges. After you come back, he will hand-off the patient back to you.

No more paperwork, no more additional meetings and no more computers or phones allowed on vacation. And if you are really tempted to check in, or you need to solve pending queries, just go to your app, review your inbox and message your biller or group. All in seconds with maxRVU. Learn more.

Check out this Forbes list of 12 amazing places to go in 2017 and start planning your next vacation.

The Green Side of Healthcare

3 Images iPhone 6Even though the United States government has no interest to participate in the global agreement to fight climate change, more than 1,200 private companies and government entities have kept a strong commitment to planet Earth. Here at maxRVU, we do too, and we have always been proud of doing our bit to help the environment.

Even today, most billing systems for physicians are still dependent on a lot of paperwork. HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, does a good job to protect patient data but has also been a burden for the use of technology to transmit patient data. There are a lot of requirements for a healthcare communication platform to be compliant with HIPAA. For this reason, many providers find it easier to carry sheets of papers with them to annotate information about their encounters with the patients and then send these to billers to get their charges reimbursed.

Let’s talk about hospitalists as an example, who are physicians that work exclusively rounding at a hospital. On average, a hospitalist sees 30 patients a day. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, there are more than 50,000 hospitalists today in the U.S. Imagine each of them using at least 30 paper sheets a day to capture their charges during rounds. If we do a simple multiplication, we could be talking about 1.5 million sheets of paper used in a day by hospitalists in the U.S. or 180 trees per day!

maxRVU has made this whole process simpler and greener. Our encrypted HIPAA compliant solution allows providers to capture their charges on their phones and send them to billing offices with just a tap. Our users are now contributing to our planet while saving time and increasing their revenue. Over the years, maxRVU alone has saved more than 1,000 trees!

We probably won’t change the world by ourselves, but if each of us does their bit and we try to influence others, we could make a significant impact.

Learn more about maxRVU: info.maxrvu.com

Staying Compliant

Staying on goal is the most important lesson to get out of this series.  You can talk about, plan, and discuss things wonderfully, but if they are not physically being carried out effectively, it is all for nothing.

Internal audits should be performed in a predetermined timeframe – quarterly or every 6 months at a minimum.  These can be very simple checklists to ensure that you are staying on schedule, and also that your office staff is handling the new information correctly.

Also a monthly review of your progress is a good bet. These can be as simple as informal staff meetings where you review goals, provide education and ensure that you are keeping on track. Make sure that your billing program is tight – with no lost revenue and close receivables.  Also, check that you are staying on budget as well.  Hold meetings with your project manager, as well as with any companies you may have hired to do installations or training sessions.  Be sure you are on target for your initial due date, and make any accommodations you may need to, should that date need to be adjusted.

To keep current with compliance issues, you may want to subscribe to newsletters and journals that will keep you informed.  Some are free, but others may charge a subscription fee.  Share the information with your office staff at your staff meetings. Be proactive, plan ahead and stay on top of the regulatory trending patterns, so you can steer your practice towards maintaining compliance and profitability.

Conquering Regulation:Project Initiation Steps

You have assessed your assets, targeted your shortcomings, and initiated a project budget and timeline for compliance.  Now we must determine how you will educate yourself and your employees on the new codes, regulations, and rules that affect your practice.  Small project initiation will offset the grandeur of this task, and make it much more manageable than you may have ascertained.

Just as in any corporate structure, there are always new processes, new tools, new positions, and new compliance issues to deal with.  Structural change occurs frequently, and preparation is the key component to handling these upgrades in stride.

In order to utilize the new software that may have been installed, or to decipher new codes that were developed, education will be a paramount player in this project.  Developing smaller projects within the grand task is the answer.  Small group discussion over the needs of your practice is a great starting point.  Obviously the entire office cannot shut down in order to comply with training needs, so having different small group sessions works best.  There are a variety of e-solutions that offer great knowledge and training sessions regarding all topics of healthcare regulations and compliance.

Supplemental staffing is another avenue that may need to be addressed during this transition period.  During the project initiation itself, or training periods, additional staff may be needed for s specific tenure.  These contract employers are specifically trained to handle this type of workload, and can be an effective hands-on training tool at your disposal.  Many people learn better from these types of trainers.  They can also supplement office personnel should other training methods have been selected.

Job roles may need to be re-evaluated.  With new responsibilities and expectations, job descriptions may need to be updated, or even changed.   Meetings with office management will determine whether or not the current workload can be merged with changing strategies in compliance.

The thing to remember here is to make small, methodical changes geared toward the overall goal.  Rome was not built in a day.

Changing the Medical Field

Change is hard in any industry, and the medical field is no different.  But once you have inventoried where your strengths lie, and where your deficiencies fall, you are already well on your way to assessing what needs to be done in order to manage and implement these changes effectively.  In the previous post, we covered taking inventory of what your practice has, and needs to purchase or update.  In this section, we will relate how effective strategies in your game plan will make the overwhelming task of updating your current systems seem effortless.

A vital component in this change is going to be your current office staff.  A brainstorming session comprised of your key employees that will be effecting the change is mandatory.  While your office manager may be competent at their current daily tasks, the news changes that need to be tackled may be slightly beyond his or her scope.  Discuss this possibility with them and work with what they are capable of handling.  Knowing that you may need to outsource a project manager or enlisting one of the numerous healthcare management companies out there is a realistic possibility.  Trying to push a project onto someone who cannot handle it will only cost more money in the long run.

Make sure you are informed of what actually needs to be done.  There are various media outlets available to us.  Present materials such as videos, on-line training, etc. to not only your staff, but to yourself as well.  You are being held accountable for these changes, and intimate knowledge of them is mandatory.

Formulating a budget and a time-frame for implementation is key.  You cannot begin to transition until you are fully aware of the scope of the project.  Once this has been formalized, stick to your plan.  Ask the project management team for their input on what needs to be done – software, training, documents, devices, etc.  Communication is an invaluable tool here.  Give each initiation its own timeline within the general scope of the project.  Forming mini tasks to be completed gradually gives the project a more graspable aspect, and makes it less daunting.

Schedule internal audits of the progress.  Make sure you stay on top of this.  Don’t just take the word of your project manager.  Hold them monthly, quarterly – whatever timetable works with your establish timelines.  Successful completion of each section of this process is the only way to ensure a reachable goal – and that is to update and embrace the changes in healthcare, not dread them.