Don’t Judge an EMR by the Cost of its Software

Don’t Judge an EMR by the Cost of its Software

Many physical therapists find that using physical therapy EMR is expensive. However, Nitin Chhoda emphasizes the many benefits of EMR systems and how the initial expenses can be justified with the long term savings down the road.

EMRPatients and practitioners are living in an exciting age of technological advances that detects diseases earlier and saves lives, but the ability comes with an impressive price tag.

That cost extends into the office with EMR technology and it’s an expense for which many medical professionals aren’t prepared.

The cost of implementing an integrated EMR varies widely, dependent upon the type of system that is utilized.

Practice owners can choose to install an on-site system that they must service themselves, or choose a vendor-maintained package that comes with a monthly fee. Free EMR systems are available, along with those with price tags of up to $80,000. It’s a major expense for any size clinic, but can be devastating for smaller practices on a budget.

EMRs should address the basics

An EMR should speak to three primary functions in the office environment. It should allow practice owners to submit reimbursement claims online to expedite cash flow, provide complete patient documentation, and maintain a client health record that enables clinicians to deliver a superior level of care.

An EMR encompasses of host of functionalities for marketing, client communications and collections, but should address the essentials first.

Cost doesn’t always mean quality

There’s no guarantee that an $80,000 EMR system will perform any better or offer more sophisticated abilities than one that’s free. EMR vendors offer valuable services and resources, but clinicians should remain cognizant that the ultimate goal of such firms is to make money. It’s impossible for a one-size-fits-all system to accommodate the needs of every type of healthcare facility. There will be gaps and inconsistencies that will adversely affect a clinic’s revenues.

Don’t forget the hardware

Implementing an EMR requires hardware, whether it’s hosted by a vendor or housed on-site. For vendor supplied installs, the web-based functions will be maintained on the company’s servers, but clinics will need to purchase laptops or tablets to access the EMR, along with routers, cables, servers and terminals. The cost is much more extensive for practice-maintained electronic medical records housed on-site.

The high cost of tech support and maintenance

Technical support is essential to ensure the smooth running of an intricate EMR system. Clinicians should determine the full extent of the available support before committing themselves and their livelihoods to a nebulous promise. Tech assistance should be available around the clock and include experts that will come to the clinic if needed.

Learning to use the system in easy steps

electronic medical recordsStaff training can represent a significant financial outlay if employees must travel or miss work to learn the system’s operation.

Many vendors offer on-site and online training as part of their services, but the real cost to clinics will demonstrate itself through an initial loss of productivity and interruption of the normal workflow.

The costs associated with implementing an integrated EMR are varied and they’re expenses that most clinic owners don’t even consider. They look only at the initial cost of the software, without considering the implications of staff training, hardware and IT professionals.

There are many expenses that may not be immediately obvious, but they’re elements that will cost clinics dearly in revenues if they’re not settled before implementation.

The Importance of Patient Pay Online Options

The Importance of Patient Pay Online Options

Studies have shown that people are more likely to pay any bill rather than their doctor bill. Collecting patient pays can be difficult, especially larger amounts. Making it as easy as possible for clients to pay their portion of medical bills improves collection rates, while fostering the patient’s perception of the practice as one that’s modern and makes an extra effort on their behalf.

There Are Always Options

Clinicians must offer patients options and the first place to start is through the ability to make payments online. Clients are already used to doing things online and many utilize a mobile device for their transactions. With the In Touch EMR™, online payments can be linked with the clinician’s merchant account and deposited directly into the practice’s account, usually within seven days.

Online payments offer patients the convenience of 24/7 access and the ability to use a variety of payment methods, from credit and debit cards to electronic checks. Older patients may not have access to the Internet, while others may be afraid to disclose the appropriate information. For these patients, traditional checks and cash are still an option.

In Touch EMR™ also offers patients the ability make recurring payments. The software breaks down client amounts into manageable amounts that they can pay over time. Clinicians may want to consider offering discounts for situations that include cash payments or balances that are paid within a specified amount of time.

Convenience And Security

In Touch EMR™ provides the means to accept payments without the need to store sensitive data on-site. Information is maintained in the cloud and strict security protocols are in place that complies with the Payment Card Industry Data Standard.  In Touch EMR™ is HIPAA compliant.

Going Green

Accepting online payments utilizing the In Touch EMR™ is significant progress in the process to go green. It eliminates a majority of paper bills and statements, though there will still be instances necessitating a paper bill be printed and mailed.

“Online payments create better revenue cycles and reduce the expense of collection costs.”

Billers spend less time on sending reminders and statements, and can focus more on the claims process. Necessary payment data is sent to the billing department for posting to patient accounts. The team at In Touch EMR™ will even help clinicians set up the system to begin accepting payments electronically.

The ability for patients to pay their bills online is crucial as more individuals shift away from carrying cash or writing checks. For many, paying for products and services is simply a matter of entering a credit or debit card number. Any clinician that doesn’t have the ability to collect payments online is cheating their medical practice of a quick and convenient way to improve revenues, and incurring significant costs in time, effort and printed reminders.

Studies have shown that people are more likely to pay any bill rather than their doctor bill. Collecting patient pays can be difficult, especially larger amounts. Making it as easy as possible for clients to pay their portion of medical bills improves collection rates, while fostering the patient’s perception of the practice as one that’s modern and makes an extra effort on their behalf.

There Are Always Options

Clinicians must offer patients options and the first place to start is through the ability to make payments online. Clients are already used to doing things online and many utilize a mobile device for their transactions. With the In Touch EMR™, online payments can be linked with the clinician’s merchant account and deposited directly into the practice’s account, usually within seven days.

Online payments offer patients the convenience of 24/7 access and the ability to use a variety of payment methods, from credit and debit cards to electronic checks. Older patients may not have access to the Internet, while others may be afraid to disclose the appropriate information. For these patients, traditional checks and cash are still an option.

In Touch EMR™ also offers patients the ability make recurring payments. The software breaks down client amounts into manageable amounts that they can pay over time. Clinicians may want to consider offering discounts for situations that include cash payments or balances that are paid within a specified amount of time.

Convenience And Security

In Touch EMR™ provides the means to accept payments without the need to store sensitive data on-site. Information is maintained in the cloud and strict security protocols are in place that complies with the Payment Card Industry Data Standard.  In Touch EMR™ is HIPAA compliant.

Going Green

Accepting online payments utilizing the In Touch EMR™ is significant progress in the process to go green. It eliminates a majority of paper bills and statements, though there will still be instances necessitating a paper bill be printed and mailed.

“Online payments create better revenue cycles and reduce the expense of collection costs.”

Billers spend less time on sending reminders and statements, and can focus more on the claims process. Necessary payment data is sent to the billing department for posting to patient accounts. The team at In Touch EMR™ will even help clinicians set up the system to begin accepting payments electronically.

The ability for patients to pay their bills online is crucial as more individuals shift away from carrying cash or writing checks. For many, paying for products and services is simply a matter of entering a credit or debit card number. Any clinician that doesn’t have the ability to collect payments online is cheating their medical practice of a quick and convenient way to improve revenues, and incurring significant costs in time, effort and printed reminders.

Medical Billers / Coders — How to Obtain Certification Part 2

Medical Billers / Coders — How to Obtain Certification Part 2

The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) is one of the most respected and reputable medical billers / coders organizations in existence. The group is the primary certification, education and information resource for those entering the field of billing/coding. Nitin Chhoda explains more about the organization in this second part of two-part series of becoming a certified medical biller / coder.

medical billers / codersMedical billers or coders are knowledgeable in a variety of disciplines, from anatomy and medical terminology to specialized software systems and CPT and ICD codes.

Depending upon the level of certification desired, prerequisites can include completion of specific courses or a four-year degree before being sufficiently qualified to take a certification exam.

The AAPC provides education and professional certification for medical billers or coders employed within a practitioner’s office and hospital. It promotes the highest standard of coding through adherence to accepted standards.

NOTE:  The organization maintains strict eligibility requirements for full certification.

AAPC training programs are offered throughout the U.S. for those who will work in private practices and hospitals.

It offers continuing education opportunities, awards certifications, maintains a job database, and conducts regional and national conventions. Individuals have access to resources and materials essential to the profession, and learn about auditing, compliance and practice management.

Certified Professional Coder – the Entry Level

The AAPC offers entry level and apprentice level of medical billers or coders certifications. The basic certification is CPC (certified professional coder) and indicates the individual is proficient with procedural and supply codes, can extract correct diagnosis codes and read a medical chart.

Those with a CPC designation typically work in outpatient environments and will have a working knowledge of medical terminology and anatomy.

Certified Professional Coder-Hospital

A certified professional coder-hospital (CPC-H) demonstrates that the medical billers or coders understands compliance and can complete billing forms used for facility claims.

This level shows that the biller can accurately assign diagnosis, procedural and service codes in an outpatient environment, and use appropriate modifiers when necessary.

Certified Professional Coder-Payer Designation

The medical billers or coders holding a certified professional coder-payer designation (CPC-P) has exhibited a good working knowledge of the payer process. It demonstrates the individual is cognizant of the relationship between coding and payment, understands the adjudication process, and knows the coding-related payer process.

Those medical billers or coders who have completed two years or more of prior experience before taking and passing the exam will be fully certified. Individuals sitting for first time exams and those with no prior experience will receive apprentice status as CPC-A, CPC-H-A or CPC-P-A.

Test takers of medical billing and coding certifications must prove through a letter from their employer that they have prior experience and what their duties encompassed.

medical billers or codersThey must also provide documentation showing they’ve completed at least 80 hours of coding education and completed a year of on-the-job training using CPT, ICD and HCPCS codes.

Anyone can claim to be medical billers or coders, but credentialing provides proof from a respected and reputable professional organization that these medical billers or coders have achieved a superior level of accomplishment, and have attained the required level of knowledge and proficiency.

Certified medical billers or coders command a higher rate of pay and certification opens multiple career path opportunities. You can also check the first part of this two-part series on how to be certified medical biller or coder by clicking here.

 

Medical Biller or Coder — How Do I Obtain Certification Part 1

Medical Biller or Coder — How Do I Obtain Certification Part 1

Becoming a medical biller or coder requires certification. Those who choose a career path that will place them in a hospital environment should become familiar with the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Nitin Chhoda shares how a highly respected organization  such as AHIMA, issues multiple levels of certifications for its members.

medical biller or coderThe organization recommends that medical biller or coder completes a training program prior to certification testing.

Depending on the desired certification, students may be required to participate in a short-term program or acquire a four-year degree before being eligible to take a specific certification exam.

Benefit of Joining AHIMA

The focus at AHIMA is providing certification for hospital-based medical biller or coder. The group has yearly conventions, issues certifications and conducts training programs.

It offers continuing education options and networking opportunities designed to keep medical biller or coder abreast of issues that affect them in the professional arena.

AHIMA offers online education courses, programs and webinars and exam preparation.

Students can participate in a virtual lab featuring multiple state-of-the-art software applications they will encounter in their professional capacity.

Different Certification Levels

The group only offers entry level credentials and is available to those who already have first-hand knowledge of coding. AHIMA issues certifications for those who plan a career working in hospitals and strives for excellence in medical record integrity.

AHIMA provides three medical biller or coder certifications:

  • certified coding associate (CCA)
  • correct coding specialist (CCS)
  • correct coding specialist-physician based (CCS-P)

All types of medical biller or coder are recognized and accepted by hospitals, physicians and practice management companies.

Correct Coding Associate

To earn a CCA designation, coders must exhibit competency with in-patient and out-patient coding. It’s an overall certification that allows medical biller or coder to work in multiple venues. It demonstrates competency but not mastery.

Certified Coding Specialist

The CCS is AHIMA’s primary certification that shows a coder has a higher level of skill with procedural and diagnosis coding, are experts in CPT and ICD coding, and knowledgeable in anatomy and medical terminology.

Those earning CCS certification must also know about pharmacology and the disease process.medical billing and coding

Correct Coding Specialist-Physician

Those receiving a CCS-P certification specialize in working within physician offices, clinics and practices with multiple clinicians.

They’re highly skilled professionals who are adept at billing accurately to obtain the highest level of reimbursement for practitioners.

They assign ICD and CPT codes on patient records and may be responsible for transmitting claims to clearinghouses.

Healthcare Privacy and Security

The organization also offers the only combined privacy and security certification. Those medical biller or coder with healthcare privacy and security (CHPS®) certification must demonstrate competence in the design, implementation and administration of security protection programs for all types of healthcare-related organizations.

AHIMA provides medical biller or coder who wants to follow a career path in hospital medical billing and coding with the information, requirements, education and certification they need. The professional organization is one of the most respected in the industry, offering the multiple certification levels those in the medical billing and coding industry require to take their career from associate to specialist.

Watch out for the part two of this two-part series of articles entitled “Medical Biller or Coder — How Do I Obtain Certification?”

Exclusions and Denials: Tips for Staying Ahead of the Curve

Exclusions and Denials: Tips for Staying Ahead of the Curve

Denials disrupt a medical insurance biller’s (MIB) cash flow to their clients, but incurring exclusions from one of the government operated healthcare programs can cost thousands of dollars. Exclusions severely limit employment opportunities and in this revealing article, Nitin Chhoda examines exclusionary factors and what it means for billers.

exclusionsAny individual or entity that works with government healthcare plans can be excluded from the network, from hospitals and clinicians to billers.

There’s an extensive number of ways that billers can garner exclusions. The good news is that there are preventative measures that billers can take to protect themselves and their clients.

Coding Updates

Keeping current on coding is essential for obtaining reimbursements and it helps MIBs avoid claim denials. CPT codes are updated annually and those using old, obsolete or defunct codes run the risk of having a claim reimbursed at a lower level.

At the payer’s discretion, the carrier may refuse to recognize the claim at all. When billers obtain a new client, it’s a good idea to take a look at their coding and forms to ensure they’re using the most current codes.

ICD-10 codes will soon replace the old system and updating to the new codes is critical for claims to be accepted. Healthcare practice management insurance carriers will reject and deny any claim that doesn’t employ the new coding system.

Current coding allows practitioners to be reimbursed at the highest level and provides proof to carriers that the charges are justified.

Attending seminars and conferences is a good way to stay up-to- date on the latest trends, laws and practices that relate to the billing industry. Many carriers provide free seminars and professional billing associations offer online webinars and resources. Subscribing to newsletters and bulletins from professional organizations is also a good source of knowledge.

Exclusions and Causes

There are two types of exclusions – permissive and mandatory – and they’re governed by the U.S. Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Depending upon the offense, those who have incurred exclusions will find their employment opportunities curtailed and they can even lose their license. Penalties are typically in effect for a minimum of five years. Mandatory offenses that require exclusions are:

  1. Conviction of patient abuse or neglect;
  2. Conviction of a program-related crime;
  3. Felony conviction relating to healthcare fraud;
  4. Felony conviction of a controlled substance.

Penalties for permissive exclusions vary from case to case, but are in effect for a specified amount of time set by the OIG. Permissive offenses that are at the OIG’s discretion include:

exclusions and denials

  1. Failure to provide quality care;
  2. Failure to repay college education loans;
  3. Some misdemeanor convictions;
  4. Lying on an enrollment application;
  5. Loss of state license to practice.

Billing with the latest codes facilitates claims that aren’t denied, while ensuring prompt payments and uninterrupted cash flow for clients.

MIBs that garner exclusions will be unable to work or contract with facilities or clinicians that participate in government healthcare programs, and will lose income should one of their clients incur exclusions.

Facilitating Effective Billing and Coding with Electronic Medical Records

Facilitating Effective Billing and Coding with Electronic Medical Records

Medical billing and coding has always been a complicated procedure, but one that is necessary for physical therapists. Nitin Chhoda discusses how each code is attributed to a certain diagnosis, treatment, and etc., making the billing and coding process simplified and effective.

billing and codingThe correct analysis of billing and coding is imperative to patients’ care, and insurance agencies depend on accurate medical code billing so that medical providers can accurately reimburse the payment for their services.

The ease and availability of electronic medical records (EMRs) improves physical therapist billing and coding by eliminating the disconnection between the provider and insurance agency.

Ensures High Level of Patient Care

EMRs can help patients receive the best care possible.  Physical therapists and other providers are able to share records via EMRs, thus, receive up-to-date information.  The clarification allows providers to see the best picture yet of patient care, and enables them to make more informed decisions regarding treatment.

Employees and doctors do no longer have to deal with ineffective billing and coding. They can focus and give more attention to patient care. 

Increases Income for Practice

Healthcare management depends on quality medical billing and coding to properly invoice patients and their insurance carriers. However, this process is time-consuming and tedious. Sometimes codes are written down incorrectly or a wrong number is read due to poor handwriting.

For years, providers have reimbursement denied by insurance agencies from code errors.  EMRs lessen the chance of errors, and ease the claim submission process.

medical billing and codingBecause all billing and coding must be accompanied by proper documents, EMRs also allow for an easier physical therapy documentation system.

Some insurance agencies are overwhelmed with claims as much as the providers, and the reimbursements may be canceled, lost, or otherwise not received, and this may go unnoticed by the practice.

However, EMRs give a physical therapist the ability to track claims and monitor any discrepancies. EMRs allow a provider to accept payments electronically, thus ensuring quicker billing and coding reimbursement than the traditional check method.