Free Webinar: Use Patient Feedback to Improve Revenue

Lea Chatham January 10th, 2014

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Nothing but the Facts: Find Out What Your Patients Really Think
Wednesday, January 15
1:00 PM ET, 10:00 AM PT

Register now to find out how to survey patients and improve your practice

The world of medicine has changed. It isn’t simply about finding out what’s the matter with your patients anymore. To stay competitive, you have to understand what really matters to your patients. It’s time to put aside your assumptions about how patients feel about you, your practice, or their experience. You have to get the facts! And you can do that by surveying your patients to get their feedback. In this webinar you’ll learn how to become an expert on patient surveys—what they are, different ways to survey, and how to get the most from the information you collect.

Once we’re done, you’ll:
1. Understand what influences the patient experience
2. Learn how conduct surveys that provide valuable feedback
3. And, how to use that feedback to improve patient satisfaction scores and revenue

You can use the information you gather to improve your practice and increase your revenue!

Join the conversation today!  You don’t want to miss this.

Register now to find out how to survey patients and improve your practice

About the Speaker

judy-headshot_Cropped

Judy Capko is the founder of Capko & Morgan, a nationally recognized healthcare consulting firm. She is the co-author of the sensational new book, The Patient-Centered Payoff. For more than 25 years she has specialized in medical practice management and operations, emphasizing patient-centered strategies and valuing staff’s contributions. Judy is also the author of the top selling books Secrets of the Best-Run Practices and Take Back Time: Bringing Time Management to Medicine, and is a popular speaker at national healthcare conferences. Thousands of physicians and administrators have benefited from her practical, innovative, and no-nonsense approach to organizational management and strategic planning.

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4 Steps to Streamline Patient Flow

Lea Chatham January 9th, 2014

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photo courtesy of Joanna Bourne

Do patients flow through your practice like a knife through butter or is it more like a spoon through a slice of bread?

One of the biggest complaints patients have is long wait times. They wait in the aptly named waiting room, but they also wait in the exam room and outside the lab or x-ray room.

In some practices patients spend more time waiting than they spend with a provider. Tweet This

The fact is that poor patient flow doesn’t just impact patients it can also impact your practice and ultimately your revenue. You lose money due to poor productivity, lost patients, loss of referrals, and even employee turnover due to workplace dissatisfaction.

According to practice management expert and Kareo Senior Market Advisor, Rico Lopez, there are many signs that your practice may be suffering from poor patient flow:

  1. Providers working way too much or too little
  2. Too many patients and not enough rooms
  3. Patients expressing frustration
  4. High no-show or cancellation rate
  5. Lots of patient record transfers
  6. Declining referrals
  7. High employee turnover
  8. Bad online reviews or social media bashing

If you are experiencing one or more of these issues, patient flow could be the culprit and it is hurting your business. The top two reasons for long wait times are a poorly designed appointment schedule and problems with staff scheduling. The first step in fixing the problem is identifying the bottlenecks and taking action to remove them.

Here are four simple steps to start correcting the problem:

  1. Identify the bottlenecks. The goal here is to look for common patterns and themes. Are most of your issues right after lunch? Or is it first thing in the morning? In the waiting room or the exam room?
  2. Figure out what the problem is. Once you figure out where you’re having problems you have to figure out what the issue is. Is it a shortage of staff at that time of day? Are you booking too many patients or too many of the same visit type at the same time.
  3. Cross-train staff. Even in a small practice you might have a front desk person and a billing person. Can you train your biller to step in and help if the front desk person gets backed up on occasion. Sometimes a little extra help may be all that is needed.
  4. Analyze your schedule. If a few simple tweaks here and there aren’t enough to resolve the problem you may need to do a serious review and revamp of your schedule. Watch for an upcoming post on the Getting Paid blog on this topic.

These are pretty basic steps to get started addressing a problem with patient flow. For some practices this may be enough to easily correct small problems and improve the patient experience. For others, the problems may be much bigger. In our next blog post, we’ll look at ways to improve your appointment scheduling to help streamline patient flow and maximize the number of patients you can see each day.

To make the most of any scheduling solutions, you need to have a practice management system in place that offers a robust, customizable scheduling solution. Register for a Kareo Practice Management demo to find out more about Kareo can help.

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5 Steps to Improving Your Sense of Wellbeing

Lea Chatham January 7th, 2014

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By Jerry Bridge

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photo courtesy of Ruud Janssen

“If healthcare is about well being, then why am I so stressed out?” Tweet This

Over the past two decades I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of medical practices on a number of issues, ranging from collections to customer service, and now, ICD-10. I have come to understand, firsthand, the unique nature of healthcare as a business, along with the stresses and anxieties that so often seem to go with it!

Medical office managers and providers face extraordinary challenges for managing their limited time, staff, and projects. The time management models, first formed in the 1950’s, are simply insufficient for managing the speed, volume, and complexity of information coming at you. Now, add in industry changes like the Affordable Care Act, ICD-10, and Meaningful Use. No wonder your feeling overwhelmed and stressed out!

How can you learn to live and work in a time in which there’s simply more to do than time to do it! I believe you need to learn and implement principles and practices for managing productivity and reducing stress!

Here are my 5 suggestions to help get you there:

  1. Commit yourself to a new possibility! This may sound easy or obvious but until and unless you are committed to a new possibility for yourself — the possibility of living and working with less stress  it may not ever show up for you!
  2. Manage Your ‘Techno Addictions’: Recognize and release your addiction to technology, to being constantly busy, and always on. Turn off your device(s). Here’s one idea: at lunch, have everyone put their smartphones in the middle of the table. First person to text or check email pays!
  3. Stop multitasking! It doesn’t work; we wind up doing more things but less effectively. Our brains love to focus on one thing at a time. It feels good as we become more mindful and present. For example, don’t eat lunch at your desk. Eat when you eat, work when you work, sleep when you sleep.
  4. Clean and organize! Clutter negatively impacts your productivity and well being. Think about what it feels like when you clean the garage or the closet that’s been nagging at you. Feels great, right? Get rid of all those trade magazines you’re going to read ‘someday’. Clean off your desk. Schedule time to do this in stages; don’t try to do it all at once.
  5. Breath, Conciously: Practice taking long slow deep breaths, which will naturally help to alleviate stress. Meditation works! (More than 600 scientific studies verifying the wide-ranging benefits of the Transcendental Meditation technique, conducted at 250 independent universities and medical schools in 33 countries during the past 40 years.)

The more you practice any one of these suggestions the better you will feel. Feeling less anxiety and stress naturally enhances productivity and extends to excellent customer service. Of course there will be times when this is ‘easier said than done’. But it doesn’t matter because if healthcare is truly about well being, that includes you! It is up to each one of us to do whatever we can to take care of ourselves and be well.

About the Author

Jerry Bridge

Jerry Bridge is a nationally recognized motivational speaker and educator for the healthcare industry. Over the past 25 years Jerry has worked with thousands of providers, practice managers and staff nationwide on a variety of practice management issues ranging from billing and collections to customer service and communication. Jerry has written several articles and books on these subjects, including The ICD-10 Transition Planning Guide; Making a Successful timely Transition. To learn more, please visit www.healthcarecollections.net.

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How Will ACA Exchanges Impact Private Practice Physicians?

Lea Chatham January 2nd, 2014

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By James Armijo

After much ado, the insurance exchanges required by the Accountable Care Act (ACA) began open enrollment on October 1, 2013. This has certainly been a change for consumers who will now have more choices for health insurance, but what does it mean for the private practice physician?

According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS), the exchanges provide “a new way to shop for health coverage,” enabling consumers to compare insurance plans by price, benefits, and quality. Open enrollment continues through March, 2014 and coverage begins as early as January, 2014. The exchanges will be managed by the states, and, in some cases, the federal government, or jointly by the state and federal government. A list of states that have been conditionally approved to run exchanges is available through The Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight (CCIO).

marketplace

CMS announced that consumers will be able to choose from four categories of plans, which are distinguished by the average percentage of costs they cover. The categories are bronze, silver, gold and platinum. These exchange plans are provided by the same commercial payers who provide private coverage to consumers now.

The question that many healthcare providers have is how these new plans will differ from existing commercial insurance plans and impact reimbursement. Depending on the plan, there may not be much difference. Most plans offered through the exchanges will provide basic services including ambulatory care, emergency services, maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, rehabilitation services, mental health, hospitalization, pediatric care, and more. Reimbursement will vary based on payer and plan in the same way that it does now.

As a healthcare provider how will you know if you will be a provider in an ACA Exchange plan or expanded Medicaid plan? And, how will you know which plans have been selected to be available on the Exchange or in expanded Medicaid in your state?

According to Penny Noyes, an expert in insurance contracts and credentialing, you should have received Amendments/Notices from payers that will have Exchange or new Medicaid products. She says that your current base agreement with those payers for commercial products may allow rates to change or products to be added with a simple notice from the payer by USPS or email, typically 30 to 90 days in advance. Your practice is responsible for sending a written objection within a short period of the notice date, usually 15 to 45 days if you don’t want to participate in that plan. The lack of objection to the Amendment is an implied acceptance, Noyes adds, with no signature needed.

Penny Noyes offers her advice on how to proceed after you receive the notice:

  1. Act swiftly. Look at the Amendment provision of your base agreement to discover if there is a specified notice and objection period so you know your timeframe.
  2. Ask lots of questions. You need to know what the exact dollars and cents of the rates will be for ALL codes that you perform, what the effective date is, how many members are anticipated, and what plan designs will be offered.
  3. Don’t just let it happen. Even if you find the products and reimbursement acceptable, you should make an informed choice about whether it is best for your practice to participate or not.

If you received these notices and didn’t object, you are probably now a provider under these plans. If you do not want to participate, you will need to look at your payer contracts or contact payers to find out when you can make changes and/or renegotiation your current contract. At that time, you can choose not to be a participating provider for those plans.

The potential addition of millions of insured patients may increase the market for your practice. However, no one really knows if that will become the reality. So whether you choose to participate in the exchange plans or not, you might not know for sure what the impact is for a while. According to Noyes, “we just won’t know what all this is really going to look like until the plans have been in place for six months to a year, and then we’ll see where we are.”

If you want to find out more about what is going on in your state, visit www.marketplace.cms.gov and www.HealthCare.gov or call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596.

Surviving and thriving in the face of changes like healthcare reform and ICD-10 requires seamlessly integrated practice management, billing, and EHR solutions that can help you streamline and optimize your business. Find out more about Kareo’s award winning solutions and how they can help at http://www.kareo.com/gopractice.

This article was first published in the Nov/Dec 2013 issue of the PAHCOM Journal.

About the Author

jamesarmijo

James Armijo, Vice President of Customer Success at Kareo, manages support for Kareo’s EHR and Practice Management solutions and oversees Kareo Billing Services. He has many years of experience in providing customer support for cloud-based and medical billing solutions.

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Welcome to Getting Paid, a weblog by Kareo offering ideas, news and opinions about medical billing and practice management with the goal of making medical billing easier and yes, getting you paid. Visit the Product Blog for more information on our products.

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