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 Regulations aren’t going to be rescinded quickly if at all, so the only answer is to streamline the time it takes to comply with the regulations.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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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

Physicians well-being should always be top priority

“I should not be spending all this time on paperwork and accounting processes.” “I am a physician, not a biller.” “I need my day to have more than 24 hours”. “I should be earning more”. If you have said or thought about any of these, then you need to keep reading.

As stated by Ken Fisher, MD, on his article published in Medical Economics, “Physician well-being is vital to the delivery of good, cost-efficient care. Physician mental health is diminishing, and physician burnout is increasing, as reported in recent studies. This is becoming a national healthcare crisis…”

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As we have worked closely with doctors from all over the country, we can also confirm this. Even though ending the struggle to find a work-life balance is complicated, there are ways you can start getting closer to the ideal balance, and we are here to help.

An article posted on Medical Economics features doctors sharing their approaches to a healthy balanced work-life and providing peer advice. You can read it on the following link:
http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/2017-physician-writing-contest-winners

maxRVU can also certainly fill one piece in the balanced work-life puzzle. Imagine a world where you can send charges or solve a query from billing offices in less than 5 seconds. A world where you can add and manage your data and patients with just a few taps. A world where you can send information or messages to anybody from your group and be HIPAA compliant all the time. This world exists, and you can start today for free with maxRVU.

More than 60 hospitals and practices are experiencing this new era in which they can save time and increase their revenue at the same time. Their charges get reimbursed faster, and a lot of their billing headaches are history now. We want to make you more efficient and happier.

Taking care of your patient data makes you WannaCry?

maxrvu-6-e1496164209435.pngAs we go through the most intense technological revolution of all times, data protection has become essential in the healthcare industry and requires stronger governance strategies.

At the same time, cyber threats to data can compromise security and privacy. Hospitals and doctors are so busy trying to save lives that too often they don’t follow up with the latest updates and protection for their software and data is always at risk.

Also, as stated in The Economist by Bruce Schneier, a noted independent security expert, “people seem to have a fundamental disregard for security. They frequently prefer to risk the long-term costs of ignoring it rather than pay actual cash for it in the present.”

We recently witnessed the WannaCry cyber-attack that paralyzed high-profile entities all over the world, encrypting their data to ask for ransom money. Hospitals become a prime target of these cyber-criminals because they would pay up quickly and quietly [1]. Hospitals should invest more in resources trained to avoid, manage and control cyber-attacks. Obviously, this takes time, money and a lot of work.

In the meantime, adopting a secure parallel platform independent from the hospital on-premise system may come handy in such cases. A system that can provide complementing services to hospital EHR or Practice Management system may be extremely useful when locked out due to such attacks.

Such a platform can provide a short-term and effective solution to prevent losing data and paralyzing activities during cyber-attacks: Think of it like a safe where you can keep copies of your data that you can access it at any time and from many locations. If the hospital were to go through a cyber-attack, you would still have some level of data access and can continue operations while the problem is being fixed. This would ensure business continuity, communication, and collaboration at all times.

A charge capture solution like maxRVU can be very helpful in such cases. With your current census of patients, cases or consults, and secure communication, you will still be in touch with your daily work.

[1] WannaCry should make people trate cyber-crime seriuously, The Economist, May 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21722158-it-has-been-neglected-too-long-wannacry-should-make-people-treat-cyber-crime

Should Residents be required to have more training?

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75% of physicians in our Health Care Professional Survey would have preferred more training on the Business of Medicine during their residency.

The most important aspect of training is learning how to properly care for your patients, but what happens when you complete training and you’re off in the real world of medicine?

There’s a lot of things they don’t teach you, like how medical billing works, how you will be compensated, and how to track that compensation.

maxRVU Charge Capture helps physicians track patient encounters at point-of-care. This is a pretty easy concept to understand, but what’s so special about our charge capture solution is that maxRVU supports Residents as well. You can learn proper coding techniques that go right along with your specialty, while attending physicians review the codes you submit before they’re handed off to the billing department.

CPT codes will no longer be a mysterious string of numbers, but instead a well-known code describing what procedures and consultation levels you performed. Better yet, you’ll track the Relative Value Units associated with the codes to get an idea of what your reimbursements would look like.

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.