Physical Therapy Documentation: Self-Intake and Mobile Technology

Physical Therapy Documentation: Self-Intake and Mobile Technology

Nitin Chhoda explains how using the latest mobile technology can have a great impact on your patients. Stating that this technology can also create positive feedback for your practice.

physical therapy documentation self intakeThe future is now, and that can’t be emphasized enough in the world of physical therapy documentation and technological upgrades.

We are looking at a whole array of possibilities for the next few years, but one thing that is certain is that medical practices of all kinds will be switching to EMRs over the next decade.

Attracting new patients is going to get harder and harder if your practice doesn’t adjust and adapt to the technological breakthroughs in physical therapy documentation and management.

Within the next five years, we are going to see a dramatic shift in what the typical patient values with regard to the type of physical therapy documentation and practice choice. We are already a society obsessed with convenience and speed, but even the definition of convenience is changing for Americans.

What Do Patients Prefer?

Patients may prefer the option of entering their medical history online at home, even before they come to the office. They may expect to pay their share up front, so the financial side of their health care is not an uncertain, stressful weight on their minds.

Patients are more and more computer literate, preferring the simplicity of selecting a choice from a drop-down menu than writing in each element of their medical history. And more than ever, patients are expecting a certain level of technological advancement from their health care and physical therapy documentation providers.

Marketing and Technology  

To appeal to the high value placed on technology, many physical therapy documentation and practices are implementing fully-integrated and automated physical therapy documentation systems, right from the start.

A modern and high-tech practice will have self-intake on tablet computers as well as the paper option just in case someone is not inclined to try the new system.

physical therapy documentation technologyOne of the most important marketing strategies of this day and age is peer-to-peer marketing.

In other words, the word-of-mouth referrals that used to provide a few extra patients here and there has changed into a critical strategic marketing hub.

The Importance of Physical Therapy Documentation

The reputation of a physical therapy documentation practice has always been important, but today your reputation can change in an instant with Internet peer-review sites and social networking.

The same patients who are reviewing or talking about your practice with hundreds of people at a time are the ones who will be impressed and relieved to find that your practice has the best in technology.

This kind of physical therapy documentation and marketing edge can make or break a practice, especially in a market that is getting more and more competitive.

Getting in on the Ground Floor

No matter how hard it may seem to change the way your practice does business, it will be infinitely harder to compete with practices that successfully make the switch. Electronic medical records are just the beginning.

Not only will your physical therapy documentation practice need the technology, but your practice should also be maximizing efficiency in the same way as the rest of the market. Rather than accepting that you will have the last of the previous generation of patients, start looking forward and hope to attract the next generation.

Physical Therapy Documentation: How to Improve Productivity with Your EMR

Physical Therapy Documentation: How to Improve Productivity with Your EMR

Traditionally, electronic medical record (EMR) systems have been associated with documentation and record keeping. In the new economy, an EMR has evolved into a tool to help you run every aspect of your practice – scheduling, documentation, coding, billing, payment collection and marketing.

With improved technology, this is the new norm, which is good news for a private practice owner. Nitin Chhoda explains how the right EMR system can make your life easier and help you run a simpler, more profitable practice.

physical therapy documentation productivityCalculating your billable rate for weighted procedures and setting benchmarks for weighted procedures per visit can certainly do a lot to help your bottom line.

Physical therapy documentation benchmarking can improve productivity and identify areas where a practice is in need of streamlining and improvement.

The difficulty in the past has been collecting data and analyzing the numbers. Today, with modern physical therapy documentation tools and improved technology, reviewing productivity measures is fast and simple.

Basic Numbers for Better Practice Management

The basic numbers your practice will need to collect start very simply. How many visits does each patient schedule? How many appointments are scheduled in an eight-hour day? How many weighted procedures are documented for each patient visit?

These numbers can be rolled out quickly and easily, because a simple tally will work. With a physical therapy documentation EMR, you can get these kinds of data with a few clicks of the mouse. Flexible physical therapy documentation tools allow you to choose time frames and display averages, per visit, per day, per week, or per month.

These numbers will tell you where the practice stands right now. The next step will be to decide where you want the practice to go. You may find that there are some places where you can improve efficiency right away.

If you know how many weighted procedures are recorded for each visit, and you want to increase that number, your physical therapy documentation staff can be educated about how to better incorporate weighted procedures into each visit.

Interpretation and Analysis

Once you go a little deeper, you will start to see that a bit of interpretation and analysis is necessary. Fortunately, with an EMR your data is easy to collect and organize.

The weighted physical therapy documentation procedures per visit can be transformed into weighted procedures per provider hour worked. You can then figure out just how much you would like to be billing per hour, and compare that to the actual billing rates.

This is the basis of benchmarking. If you can determine what a reasonable rate of physical therapy documentation billable services is, you will be able to look for ways to increase the billable amount per hour.

physical therapy documentation EMRAdditionally, you can start to look at the compensation cost per visit in a rational and recorded manner. Physical therapy documentation software will allow for simple analysis of straight forward reports.

Compensation cost per visit is one of the biggest and most inflexible expenses associated with running a private practice. This includes your rent and utilities as well as costs of staffing.

Your benchmark can be set based on anticipated improvements in physical therapy documentation productivity as well as averages from elsewhere in the physical therapy field.

Goals Set the Practice on the Right Path

Benchmarking is one way to make your goals more concrete. Rather than saying that you want to improve physical therapy documentation productivity, you can set a benchmark for weighted procedures per visit. This will help the practice to perform at its best, while giving everyone specific tasks to help make that happen.

Physical Therapy Documentation: Revenue Trending Mechanisms and Their Impact on Your Practice Revenue

Physical Therapy Documentation: Revenue Trending Mechanisms and Their Impact on Your Practice Revenue

Medical documentation and billing is an integrated process, in which minor inefficiencies can cause a ripple effect in the way revenue is collected. Billing in particular, may be an area of concern. 

The smallest mistake on an insurance claim can lead to a delay in payment, time wasted by the biller while researching the mistake and re-submitting the claim, and potentially the loss of that revenue altogether. Nitin Chhoda teaches you how to resolve this, and grow your practice in the process.

physical therapy documentation revenueRevenue assurance is a growing financial and telecommunications field that looks at the devil in the details; inefficiencies that may seem small can cause a ripple effect in the way revenue is collected.

For a very large physical therapy documentation of a business, having a revenue assurance team makes some sense.

Determining Inefficiencies

Usually, the staff working on their jobs does not see inefficiencies or productivity leaks. A revenue assurance team or staff member can take the time to find the problems and can take a wide-angle view when looking for solutions.

In physical therapy practices, finding those revenue leaks is a very new task. Typically, it is up to physical therapy documentation and management staff to identify where revenue is lost and to recommend or require adjustments from the staff.

However, without a medical EMR or other physical therapy documentation software, it can be almost impossible to even identify the problem, let alone work toward a solution.

Revenue Assurance Mechanisms for Medical Billing

It is probably obvious that one of the departments where revenue leaks occur most frequently is within the billing department.

Medical billing and physical therapy documentation is especially prone to inefficiencies, because the smallest mistake on an insurance claim will lead to a delay in payment, time wasted by the biller while researching the mistake and re-submitting the claim, and potentially the loss of that revenue altogether.

Physical therapy documentation software is specifically designed to make it easier for medical coding and billing professionals to avoid mistakes. Because the information is entered directly by clinicians, the notes and weighted procedures can be standardized. Every time a clinician adds something to an EMR, they can choose a line of text that they have entered before.

For medical billing staff, this kind of consistency can improve claim acceptance rates significantly. If the coder knows what to expect, they can simply select the same codes repeatedly. Billers can identify what kinds of claims each insurance company accepts and where problems occur. The process can be streamlined and made more successful with physical therapy documentation software.

Focus on Productivity and Job Satisfaction

The job of the physical therapy documentation manager is complex. You must keep your eye on the big picture, looking for ways to improve the practice overall, but you also need to ensure that each staff member is getting some sense of fulfillment or satisfaction from the work they are doing.

Content, satisfied staff members are more productive and successful. The good news is that combining an effort to improve physical therapy documentation staff satisfaction with improved productivity can be incredibly successful.

physical therapy documentation impactImprove Staff Performance

Especially with the addition of physical therapy documentation software, the staff can be given the opportunity to make their jobs better for themselves, while improving their performance for patients and for the practice.

Revenue trending mechanisms that are put into place can feel insidious if implemented improperly. Nobody wants to be told they’re not doing a good enough job and that they are being forced to adjust by using new software.

But if the process is framed in the right way, with the right intentions, everyone can benefit from the new physical therapy documentation system.

Physical Therapy Billing — Behind the Curtains: The World of Insurance Companies and Payers

Physical Therapy Billing — Behind the Curtains: The World of Insurance Companies and Payers

For a private practice, the world of insurance companies and payers (Medicare and private payers) is a complex and intimidating one.

Nitin Chhoda explains the differences between government and non-government payers to help you better understand the ‘insurance scenario’ so you can make a better decision about the payers you’d like to get enrolled with.

physical therapy billing insuranceThe list of payers of a physical therapy billing in a practice can be long and complex.

Government programs, private insurance companies, auto liability insurance, and workers’ compensation programs all pay for physical therapy services and rehabilitation.

Even within private health insurance companies, physical therapy billing is incredibly complex.

Insurance companies have the power to impose very specific limitations on services provided. Each type of insurance provider will have specific requirements for enrollment and treatment.

Private Insurance Companies

Private insurance companies that cover the costs of physical therapy billing and treatment include automobile liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance providers, and health insurance companies. Workers’ compensation systems are usually tied into the public system, and there are public providers of workers’ compensation insurance.

However, there are also private companies that work similarly to private health and liability insurance companies.

For physical therapy billing purposes, these companies will expect Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes in the Physical Medicine section. These codes help to standardize physical therapy billing as well as other health care services billing for particular procedures and treatments.

Payment policies can be different from company to company. Most physical therapy billing staff will already know that the only way to get claims approved is to follow the policy of each company to the letter.

Any minor mistake can be cause for rejection or denial of a claim. In particular, physical therapy treatments are often limited in number of visits or to a maximum dollar amount each year.

Other Physical Therapy Services

Physical therapy may also be lumped together with other rehabilitative services, making the pool of covered treatment even smaller if the patient is seeing other specialists, including speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, and even chiropractic work.

Physical therapy billing and practices must contract with individual health care insurance companies to determine the payment levels for service. For liability and workers’ compensation payment levels, there are often legal requirements set by each individual state.

Medicare and Other Government Programs 

physical therapy billing payersMedicare, Medicaid, and other government programs, such as county health coverage programs, operate separately and differently than private insurance, and each program has specific rules to follow for physical therapy billing.

In fact, for Medicare, the type and amount of payment is determined by where the physical therapy services are provided.

Different billing procedures are used for in-home physical therapy and treatment within a clinic. The services that apply to most physical therapy private practices are outpatient services. Medicare has an annual cap for physical therapy billing and services that is increased each year.

More Government Programs

Under Medicaid, physical therapy is considered an option service, but one that is still covered by most states. 39 states cover physical therapy even as an optional service, and in all states there are exceptions for “medically necessary” physical therapy and for inpatient hospital physical therapy.

Other governmental programs include services through the US Dept of Veterans Affairs and under the Individuals with Disabilities Act.

Physical therapy billing for all of these services can be overwhelming and confusing. There are many problems with the system, but physical therapy documentation software is making it a bit easier to handle the specifics of each program.

Physical Therapy Billing: Collecting Payment from Patients

Physical Therapy Billing: Collecting Payment from Patients

Physical therapy billing involves insurance claim submission and balance billing patients for outstanding dues.

Since patients are the most difficult payers, it’s critical for a practice to gather payment information during the patient intake process, and also to communicate with them about their insurance and balance billing possibilities.

This makes the patient aware of his / her responsibilities and helps the practice increase cash flow.

physical therapy billing of patientsIn an ideal world, every visit that patients made to the physical therapists would be seamless and payments would happen virtually, in the background.

Each time your physical therapy billing staff submits a claim, the hope is that it will be accepted.

Sadly, half the time, those claims are denied or rejected. And for many patients, this can mean that the onus of payment is on them.

Collecting payment is the hard part. When someone needs medical care, the last thing you want to do is demand they pay up for the services they’re getting. But the physical therapy billing system is set up the way it is and the best we can do is adjust and come up with smart ways to make the process less painful.

Pre-Visit Intake and Insurance Reviews

One way that some physical therapy billing departments are doing to make things easier is to work with patients up-front and determine what is covered before the patient has any bills due.

This process is not fool-proof, and it requires a lot of proactive work and planning on the part of the physical therapy billing department. But if a patient knows what to expect, payment is not as stressful and onerous.

With an integrated physical therapy billing EMR, as soon as the patient has entered their insurance and medical information, the staff can get to work finding out what the patient can expect to receive in terms of care.

Any co-payments or deductibles can be discussed up front. This means that the patient will be informed about their obligations and will not balk every time a payment is due.

Be Ready

Naturally, no system is flawless and there will still be situations where a patients insurance company rejects claims based on previous care that was not mentioned or other provisions that were not identified.

physical therapy billing collectionBut by taking the steps to avoid surprises, both the staff of physical therapy billing and the patients will find it easier to handle the payment process.

Payments from patients are more likely to be paid on time, and you can even collect payment up-front when the patient arrives rather than sending them a surprise bill in the mail at a later date.

Integrated EMR Solutions for Payment Processes

The only way that physical therapy billing staff can streamline the process in this way is if they have access to all the most relevant information. As soon as a patient has made a payment at reception, the billing staff should be able to pull up that information.

If a new appointment is made, information about who will pay should be calculated automatically.

On-site credit card processing should also be an option, for both one-time and recurring payments. Payments can be initiated from within an integrated physical therapy billing EMR.

Rather than put everyone through the stress of uncertainty and unexpected bills, a physical therapy EMR that makes physical therapy billing straightforward and simple can lift the burden from staff as well as patients.

Physical Therapy Billing: Patient Credit Card Payments 101

Physical Therapy Billing: Patient Credit Card Payments 101

On-site credit card processing is one of the best ways to collect payments from patients. With a credit card on file and signed permission from the patient, your practice can balance bill a patient without having to turn into a ‘payment collector’.

In this article, Nitin Chhoda reveals key insights to help improve payments from patients and convince them to give you permission for automated, credit card billing.

physical therapy billing 101The most modern and advanced physical therapy EMRs combine everything from patient intake to physical therapy billing in one system.

The benefits seem endless when you look at it from a physical therapy management perspective, but filling in the gaps for the rest of the staff is also very important.

There are many ways that patient interactions can be improved, including in the delicate arena of payment.

Benefits of On-Site Credit Card Processing

Although most physical therapy services are covered by insurance companies or government programs, a significant enough proportion of physical therapy billing payments will come directly from patients.

In fact, a good physical therapy billing and marketing strategy is to encourage patients who will be paying up-front for preventative services.

If you have at least some patients who are paying for their own services, you can predict certain levels of revenue that doesn’t come with the same delays and claims submissions.

These days, it is important to have on-site credit card processing as one payment option for physical therapy billing patients. Even if you are simply collecting credit card information in case of future incidental costs, the value of including integrated credit card payment processing into your EMR will be significant.

For co-payments or initial deductible payments, having recurring credit card processing capabilities will take a lot of time-consuming work out of collecting payment.

And for practices that incorporate up-front payment into their physical therapy billing practice, being able to charge the fees simply and efficiently with a stored credit card can make the entire process smoother and more comfortable for patients as well as staff.

Additionally, physical therapy billing staff should be able to see real-time updates to the payment status of patients, each time the credit card is charged.

Other Payment Precautions and Solutions

physical therapy billing processAccepting credit and debit cards on-site is just one part of the payment routines. Hopefully you are also equipped to accept cash and even checks.

Even though many people do not use checks anymore, there are still a surprising number of patients who will come through your practice hoping to pay by check.

Checks are a difficult form of payment for physical therapy billing to accept. The cost of a bounced check is not insignificant and the time it takes to re-bill is frustratingly slow.

But there are ways to accept checks safely. Now, you can integrate the Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) process into your EMR. You will be able to instantly determine whether or not a check is good.

Accepting checks may help you to increase the amount of up-front payments you can accept, making your practice more efficient at collecting physical therapy billing payments. Anything that improves your cash intake is a good investment.

Decreasing the Work of Physical Therapy Billing Staff

Another great investment is made each time you reduce the amount of work that physical therapy billing staff needs to manage. Up-front payments and on-site credit card processing make it possible for billers to be taken out of the equation for certain patients. This means they can spend more time and energy focusing on billing and collecting from insurance companies.