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 Regulations aren’t going to be rescinded quickly if at all, so the only answer is to streamline the time it takes to comply with the regulations.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