Physical Therapy Marketing: Limiting Exposure to Bad Payers

Physical Therapy Marketing: Limiting Exposure to Bad Payers

Searching for the best insurance companies maybe hard to find, but it doesn’t mean that they do not exist. Nitin Chhoda exposes simple techniques on how to identify and contract with the best payers so that your practice will have continuous income.

Knowing the bad payers when it comes to your physical therapy practice is not as hard as you might think. Nitin Chhoda reveals ways you can recognize bad payers in order to avoid them, and spend more of your time caring for patients.

physical therapy marketing limitsEvery physical therapy marketing in a practice goes through the process of determining which are the best paying insurance companies. You may find that one of the best ways to learn about bad payers is by asking around.

Of course, you may not feel like going into the competitor’s office as part of the physical therapy marketing plan, but there are ways to get information that don’t involve any risk.

Call Around to Other Healthcare Service Providers

The best information will come from other physical therapy marketing services and practices. Some insurance companies may have better policies for certain types of medical care than others.

However, if you are unsure about contacting other physical therapy managers and owners, you can also talk to those healthcare providers that you already have a relationship with.

Are there other physical therapy marketing and management offices where you refer your patients to when they need a different kind of care? Do surgeons or specialists send their patients to you when they need physical therapy?

Get in touch with the people you know and ask them a few questions about their best payers and their worst. Most professionals will be happy to share the information.

Same State, Different City

Another way to get good information is to get in touch with other physical therapy marketing services of other practices that are in the same state as you, but in a different city or town. This may feel a bit awkward at first, but the benefits of learning about bad payers are well worth a little confusion.

Remember to talk to the other managers as your peers. Remind them that you’re all in the same boat and you think this kind of information should be shared so that you can all avoid insurance companies that are bad at paying their bills.

In fact, you may find that someone has started to compile a list already. There tend to be way more resources out there than you expect – it’s just a question of finding them.

It may be that a local physical therapy marketing business group has already identified some of the worst and best payers and they might be willing to share the list with you. You never know if you don’t try.

physical therapy marketing payersStart a List of Your Own

Of course as you go, you will learn which companies you prefer and which seem to always reject your claims.

Keep track of those companies, mostly for your own physical therapy marketing practice and so you can adjust who you contract with, but also because perhaps one day someone will call your office asking for advice.

Physical therapy marketing in a practice can benefit from working together, and in some cases a good deed will pay dividends. If a practice becomes overwhelmed with new patients, perhaps they will send some your way if you’ve done them a favor in the past.

Running a healthy and thriving physical therapy practice is a lot of work. There are some very important decisions to make, and they will keep coming. The more you can work with others and build relationships with those payers that are good, the better off your physical therapy marketing practice will be.

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.

Practice Management and Its Fundamentals

Practice Management and Its Fundamentals

Nitin Chhoda shares the basic fundamentals of having an effective practice management that will help increase productivity and efficiency within a practice.

practice management fundamentalsHealthcare practice management is often a delicate balance between the human side of an efficiency equation and the problems or benefits related to technology.

For some practices, the introduction of the latest EMR technology is a difficult and frustrating experience.

For other practices, implementation can go smoothly and an EMR will start to improve efficiency right from the beginning. How can you determine that technology will actually benefit your practice? Good practice management will find out what the goals of the practice are before considering any new technology.

Common Reasons for Technology Improvements

Most practice management professionals know that technology is the way to greater efficiency. Communication via email is considerably more efficient than mailing a letter.

You would never consider going back to paper communication when email is an option, right? That is how most practice management professionals feel about using EMRs and practice management technology once they have implemented and adjusted to the changes.

However, at the start of the process, there will always be pushback. There are high start-up costs, and to answer the questions about whether or not EMRs are worthwhile, you will certainly need to ascertain that there are efficiency problems in the practice that an EMR can solve.

Email Investment

But think about investing in email. Email requires significant start-up investments, including computers, high speed internet, and software. Implementing an EMR may sound expensive, but the benefits almost always outweigh those initial costs.

What are the benefits? Most clinics find that the reduction in paper and the improved speed and quality of communication is the first thing they notice.

Additionally, for medical billing and accurate medical coding, an EMR can represent higher efficiency and better rates of accepted claims. In fact, the number one reason for implementing better technology, from a practice management perspective, is to reduce rejected or denied claims.


Ensuring That Technology Works for Staff

Of course, anyone in practice management will also want to think about how these changes will affect the staff. The idea behind technology improvements is to improve efficiency. But if the staff is not well enough prepared or if they do not find the EMR to be useful or intuitive to use, the outcome will not be improved efficiency.

Similarly, technology improvements can allow for incredible benefits for practice management reporting. Good practice management should include a reporting and review system so that you can focus on changing the things that are not working.

But if the staff doesn’t understand why they are adding more tasks to their day, they may not enter information correctly, leading to useless or even harmful report results.

practice managementAdditionally, there should be an integration of staff needs and goals into the overall goals of the practice management solutions.

Effective practice management will include human resources principles into the overall strategy of improved efficiency.

Rather than assuming staff will figure it out eventually, make sure they are an integral part of the EMR or practice management technology implementation process.

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.