Physical Therapy Management: Understanding the Patient Healthcare System in the United States

Physical Therapy Management: Understanding the Patient Healthcare System in the United States

Nitin Chhoda discusses the current patient healthcare system in the United States.  He explains how the current system will change the status of physical therapy management, its transition to EMR, and its effect on patients’ security of information.

physical therapy managementPhysical therapy management healthcare reform has been a long time coming and President Obama’s initiatives represent a beginning with enormous possibilities.

At the core of healthcare reform is providing access to quality health care services to all in an affordable cost.

Health information technology for physical therapy management is essential in achieving that goal, but to realize its full potential, it’s important to understand the patient healthcare system in the U.S.

Healthcare costs and physical therapy management in the U.S. exceed those in many other countries, yet the quality of patient care can vary widely among providers and regions of the country.

President Obama has a goal of utilizing electronic medical records (EMR) by 2014, a move that can radically improve patient care across the board.

The Healthcare System

The healthcare system in the U.S. can be slow, ponderous and delay essential treatment due to a lack of patient records or availability of insurance. Coordination of care is one of the largest problems facing any healthcare provider and efficient physical therapy management depends on accurate records from all available sources.

Partial records and lost documents result in redundant testing and expensive procedures, when funds could be better utilized to treat patients.

Healthcare in the U.S. is a multi-tiered system administered by a variety of physical therapy management providers, facilities and reimbursement plans. It’s a reactive system that focuses on treating illness, ailments and conditions after they occur, rather than emphasizing ways to avoid problems before they happen.

Effective patient treatment and physical therapy management are built through ongoing relationships, but continuity of care is often broken when a client loses their insurance.

physical therapy management understandingThe EMR Technology

Information technology of physical therapy management, such as EMRs, provide physical therapists with a complete, integrated record for each patient that will significantly reduce costs on all levels by eliminating redundant tests, therapies and treatments.

The implementation of health care technology and effective physical therapy management are essential for better patient care and to meet the healthcare demands of a growing population.

Physical therapy clinics must remain profitable, but many patients seeking physical therapy management and services are those insured through Medicare, Medicaid and similar programs that dictate unrealistic reimbursement limits and caps.

Health information technology that includes electronic medical record systems allows therapists to offer an enhanced level of patient care and verify insurance coverage to expedite the treatment process.

Protection of Patients

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010. The law provides for increased access to healthcare services to many who had none before. It further seeks to limit expenses for consumers and move to a system of electronic medical records that offers extensive advantages for physical therapy management services.

EMRs represent the first generation of electronic records to manage patient health care more efficiently and assist in meeting the government’s goals of expanded access and overall savings within the healthcare industry.

For physical therapists, health information technology provides greater profitability through electronic billing submissions. Therapists have access to complete patient records, eliminating the need for costly physical therapy management and redundant testing that can delay critical treatments, while facilitating change in the patient healthcare system.

Physical Therapy Marketing – Diversifying Income with Cash Paying Programs

Physical Therapy Marketing – Diversifying Income with Cash Paying Programs

Having a variety of cash-paying programs can increase the profit of your physical therapy business. Nitin Chhoda elaborates the importance of setting-up different cash-paying programs so that your practice does not depend on insurance claims alone.

physical therapy marketing incomeIn any other service industry, cash paying programs are a given. Consider the food service industry; every time a service is provided, the customer pays immediately.

In healthcare practices, like in physical therapy business, the system is quite different.

The patients are not usually the ones paying the bill, and if they are, they probably only pay a part of it. Additionally, patients have little to no idea what their financial responsibility is, as it relates to their insurance plan.

Physical Therapy Billing is Different

So in general,  physical therapy practices, even with good  physical therapy marketing, are in a position to provide a service which they do not know will be paid for, until the cash comes in.

Add to that fact, insurance companies will use any excuse to reject or deny a claim, and the cash flow of the practice can look very bleak. More and more practices are looking for ways to bring in cash through cash paying programs.

Physical Therapy Services Are Not Just For Injuries Anymore

One way that you can start to bring in cash is by starting a great physical therapy marketing campaign that focuses on the many ways that physical therapy can help people. For example, as we age our muscles and bones get weaker and we are more prone to injuries.

Most elderly people do not consider going to a physical therapist until they are injured and need to recover. But more and more physical therapy marketing messages focus on prevention rather than just dealing with an injury. Physical therapists can help elderly people to stay stronger and healthier, which will reduce the risk and likelihood of an injury.

Offer a Variety of Programs

For many physical therapy marketing strategists, this is a message that is often targeted towards the children of elderly parents. If you can bring in a few clients who are simply there to get into better physical shape through targeted exercises, the income you make will be in cash.

When we say cash in any business, we don’t necessarily mean dollar bills. Cash refers to any form of legal tender that immediately becomes available once the transaction is complete. This can include cash, credit card payments, and checks.

physical therapy marketing diversificationFor a  physical therapy service like strength training for the elderly, the physical therapy marketing program will need to be marketed carefully and the right audience needs to be targeted.

That way, when people walk through the door they will be expecting to pay for the visits they get.

Using an EMR to Better Track Patient Payments

Another important way to ensure you have some cash flow is by implementing a more efficient physical therapy marketing system for determining just how much each patient will pay.

Medical EMRs make it easier to track a patient’s responsibility in regards to payment, and well-organized physical therapy marketing of practices now ask for up-front payment of the portion that patients are responsible for, whether that is a co-pay or refers to the amount of their deductible that they still owe. The state of insurance is complex, and getting a little bit of help from an EMR is almost necessary to track it accurately.

Physical Therapy Marketing: Understanding and Choosing the Best Payers For Your Practice

Physical Therapy Marketing: Understanding and Choosing the Best Payers For Your Practice

Contracting with payers can be like playing with landmines. Discover strategies to contract with the best payers and understand different types of payers, so you can negotiate increased pay rates.

marketing physical therapyPhysical therapists quickly discover that not all payers reimburse at the same rate, forcing clinic owners to make tough decisions.

In the new economy, that can effectively eliminate a significant number of potential patients and works to defeat the purpose of the Affordable Care Act.

It also presents a moral and ethical quandary for physical therapy marketing and management.

Having Sufficient Income Is Very Important

Therapists provide essential treatments and services to relieve pain, restore mobility and enhance quality of life. They must also generate sufficient income to operate the practice and make a living, which can be difficult to achieve when insurers are reducing coverage, limiting visits and capping payments.

To provide access to the greatest number of patients, it’s essential for therapists not only to have effective physical therapy marketing, but also to identify and contract with insurers that maintain the best reimbursements.

Different Methods of Payments

A preferred provider network (PPO) may look attractive, but therapists can find that those offering such contracts pay a set fee that often falls far short of the actual cost of treatment. Clauses and exceptions may require the therapist to accept the PPO reimbursement as total payment.

A wealth of these types of situations will prove financially detrimental to the physical therapy marketing practice.

A fee-for-service (FFS) agreement is a similar arrangement. The advantage is that therapists can provide coding for  billing purposes that explains each service, including physical therapy marketing and management, in detail. Some insurers offer per-visit payments that deliver a flat reimbursement rate each time the client is treated.

Per-visit payments resemble an FFS, but insurers often use this lump sum payment method as a means of capping the total amount paid per visit. An increasingly popular reimbursement program is the per-payment method, a bundled solution that provides payment for all services connected with a single incident/injury, while Medicare and Medicaid impose per-year payment caps on business and physical therapy marketing services.

physical therapy marketing jobsMore Methods of Payments Discussed

Capitation is a bundled payment method in which therapists receive a lump sum amount each month.

An insurer pays the therapist for each of their covered members that the physical therapy marketing practice owner treats.

This method pays well if the client requires minimal services, but it’s financially destructive for the therapist when patients needs multiple or complicated treatments.

Not as common, but equally detrimental to the financial health of a physical therapy marketing practice is the multiple procedure payment, also known as a cascade payment.

This model reimburses at 100 percent for the patient’s initial visit, but reduces payments by a set percentage for each visit thereafter. It’s becoming more popular within Workers’ Compensation programs.

Self-pay programs require payment from the patient at the time services are rendered, either in cash or via credit card. The method allows for increased cash flow and eliminates the submission of bills to insurers.

The disadvantage of the system is that many patients may not have the financial resources to pay for services, eliminating a significant number of individuals from the pool of patients.

Make Sure to Have a Balance Income

Each therapist must balance their desire to bring relief to their patients with the need to be paid adequately for their services.

Part of superior physical therapy marketing and management includes a careful examination of all contracts and a thorough understanding of how each mode of payment will affect the bottom line of the practice.

EMR Solution: Monitoring and Improving Staff Productivity

EMR Solution: Monitoring and Improving Staff Productivity

Did you know that electronic medical records can not only make the documentation process faster but they can also help to monitor staff productivity?

Critical business metrics (time in / time out, number of patients seen, number of units billed) can give the practice owner important insight on how to improve the business more and increase profitability.EMRAn efficient practice is a productive practice, and one that’s able to treat more patients, expand and prosper. The key to that dream clinic is an EMR or electronic medical records system.

The system has a number of functionalities to help clinicians monitor the productivity of every staff member, identify problem areas or processes, and improve productivity throughout the clinic.

To maintain a steady cash flow within the clinic, practice owners must ensure that each staff member is seeing as many patients as possible each day, but without sacrificing the quality of care provided to each client.

Electronic Medical Record

An EMR can include date and time stamps, or a handwritten copy of the attending therapist or staff member, allowing practice owners to monitor how many patients each staff member is seeing and how much time they’re investing in each.

It’s imperative that practice owners implement an EMR specifically developed for a physical therapy clinic. It will contain the crucial elements needed by the practice and offer customization options that reflect the way the clinic is operated.

Following the implementation of an EMR, it’s normal for productivity to decrease as staff members become familiar with the new system. Speed and efficiency will increase the more they use the system.

The Greatest Challenges

Loss of productivity is one of the greatest challenges facing clinic owners. The problem may be staff members who are stealing time from the practice with extended breaks or lackluster performance, or the problem could lay within the office processes.

An EMR will provide the information needed for practitioners to pinpoint problem areas and take steps to effect improvement. Staffing requirements change as practices grow and an EMR provides clinicians with the information needed for the strategic allocation of employees.

Practice owners strive to maintain a full patient schedule, but some clients may require more involved treatments that are time intensive or there may be an increased need for specific services at certain times of the day.

All of those types of statistics are readily available with an EMR, allowing practitioners to schedule staff for optimum effect or terminate redundant employees. Improving on staff productivity isn’t confined to therapists within the clinic.

An EMR provides the tools to monitor and improve upon billing, coding and reimbursements, along with scheduling and communicating with patients.

Practitioners who have implemented an EMR can coordinate efforts with other healthcare providers to eliminate information gaps or duplication of tests that delays treatment.EMR solutionEMR Must Be Fully Understand

Many therapists fear the loss of productivity that immediately follows the implementation of an EMR without fully understanding the benefits to be had once employees are trained in the system.

An EMR offers metrics to identify the most productive employees and areas within the practice where processes and workflow can be improved.

Identifying problem staff and more efficient ways to operate the practice results in significant savings and greater revenues for therapists who want their clinics to grow, prosper and thrive.

EMRs increase profits, efficiency, documentation and staff productivity throughout the practice. An integrated EMR represents a major change for any clinic and provides practitioners with the tools needed to streamline their business, monitor and improve staff productivity, control employee costs and increase revenues within the 21st century practice.

Physical Therapy Marketing to Patients — Before, During and After Visits

Physical Therapy Marketing to Patients — Before, During and After Visits

Effective physical therapy marketing begins even before the patients starts his / her treatment. Nitin Chhoda shares some important strategies about effective marketing to patients before, during and even after their treatment.

physical therapy marketingOwners of a physical therapy practice will soon learn that marketing takes up a significant portion of their clinic time. The business of physical therapy marketing never stops.

Clinicians must market their business to attract patients, find ways to promote themselves to clients in the office, and develop follow up methods to keep the clinic in the forefront of clients’ minds.

Patients can pick and choose the therapist they see and practice owners must market to ensure those clients are selecting them. Physical therapy marketing can be viewed as a dating game where therapists court new patients, woo them from other sources and keep the romance alive with ongoing strategies.

Good Physical Therapy Marketing

Building a good patient-therapist relationship takes time and effort, but if clinicians are giving clients what they want, or perceive they want, it can be the beginning of a long and profitable relationship.

Successful physical therapy marketing strategies begin with a clinic standing out from its competitors. Practice owners can utilize a variety of techniques that take advantage of referrals, word-of-mouth advertising and free information.

Social media, search engine marketing, patient newsletters and discounts for patients that pay cash can all be utilized to build a reputation as the preferred go-to therapist. Physical therapy patients want to feel better or mitigate their pain and practice owners need to demonstrate to prospective clients how they can accomplish those goals.

Clients want to feel cared for and clinicians that make each patient feel as if they’re the clinic’s only priority are guaranteed return business, an effective physical therapy marketing technique. Clinicians who achieve that are building a team of cheerleaders for the practice that will have far-reaching effects.

Promoting a physical therapy practice doesn’t have to be expensive. Some of the best strategies utilize simple but low-cost methods. The most effective physical therapy marketing strategies use a combination of techniques and can include any of the following.

  • Patient newsletter (a very effective physical therapy marketing strategy);
  • Hold a customer appreciation day;
  • Establish a VIP club with discounts for those who pay cash or pay their balance by a specific time and give away free trial memberships;
  • Write a column for the local newspaper, do regular radio spots and make the clinic’s expertise available to TV stations;
  • Submit press releases online to announce new products, methods, techniques and services;
  • Network with other healthcare professionals for referrals;
  • Send patients a note, email, voice mail or text message thanking them for their visit, inquire about their health or offer an incentive for discharged patients to return;
  • Give a community presentation on injury prevention or the benefits of exercise;

  • Create and distribute an audio CD or short DVD about the practice, its services or the benefits of physical therapy;
  • Develop a product or treatment method specific to the clinic;
  • Provide free information on the business website;
  • Utilize social media to connect with clients;
  • Offer a core service and two or three specialized services such as massage or acupuncture;
  • Create a blog;physical therapy marketing to patients
  • Write a book;
  • Seek staff input.

The best therapists,with the help of above physical therapy marketing techniques, are with the most patients. They are clinicians that are warm, sincere and provide a superior patient experience.

They are not afraid to display a sense of humor if appropriate. A good bedside manner is essential and humanizes therapists to their clients.

In the office, even little niceties like free coffee and juice creates a friendly ambiance that makes patients feel welcome, cared for and promotes a practice they eagerly return to for all their physical therapy marketing needs.

Billers: Are They Making These Mistakes with the Billing Service?

Billers: Are They Making These Mistakes with the Billing Service?

Billing is more than just submitting claims. It includes denial management, the ability to generate sophisticated reports and posting ERAs to patient accounts.

billersBilling companies or individual billers may have certain software or clearinghouses they’re used to working with and may be reluctant to change.

Billers may not even be aware that software exists with automatic functions that can make their job easier and more productive.

They’re often spending more time than they should on tasks that can be automated. In Touch Biller PRO was designed to make the biller’s job easier and facilitates quicker claim processing.

Automatic ERA

Electronic admittance advice (ERA), known to patients as their explanation of benefits (EOB), is manually posted to patient records in many practices.

Manual posting is one of the biggest time consuming tasks for billers.

With the touch of a button, In Touch Biller PRO automatically transmits ERAs to patient accounts to become part of their permanent record.

The software automates the payment process, saving time for billers and allowing clinicians to get paid faster.

Quick Compilations

Many billers are still compiling claims manually for transmission to clearinghouses and they aren’t scrubbing claims prior to submission.

In Touch Biller PRO has the ability to automatically collect claims for batch submissions.

It goes one step further, identifying areas where a potential problem exists and then notifying the biller. The software does the scrubbing work for billers and it can be set to conveniently send batch claims at pre-determined times.

Denial Management

Denied claims cost clinicians in lost or delayed reimbursements. They slow the work of billers, who must spend significant amounts of time in pursing those payments.

In Touch Biller PRO is a complete denial management system that relieves billers of the tasks associated with denials.

The software has tracking features that automatically assembles and monitors notes, communications, dates and documentation for easy recall and referral.

Reporting Results

billersReports help clinicians determine a wide range of information, from where referrals are originating to payment rates.

Billing software should be able to provide sophisticated reports on accounts receivable, payments made, referral rates, by CPT and ICD codes, or by clinic.

Over 200 reports can be generated with the sophisticated reporting mechanism of In Touch Biller PRO.

Clinicians will always have the needed figures at their fingertips to manage any aspect of their practice.

In Touch Biller PRO can be integrated with In Touch EMR™ and existing systems. To decrease denials and improve reimbursement approvals, clinicians should speak with their billing company about the software’s advantages. It makes their job significantly easier and increases reimbursements for practitioners.