Protecting Patient Data in Your Practice

information securityProtecting the patient’s data is a critical issue that medical facilities and other related organizations are facing. There are several laws that have been enacted to manage the privacy of patient information. If there is a violation, it can be a very pricey and also a devastating affair.

How to protect your patient’s data:

Take patient data security seriously
Technology has revolutionized the face of security patient information. However, it has also brought up potentially risky data breaches. Do not be lulled into a fake sense of refuge because you might think that your practice is not large enough to be targeted by hackers. Patient data protection for small, independent practices is equally important to the large health facilities. As a doctor do not leave patient information security to chance.

Find competent IT support staff
Smaller health facilities do not allocate an IT support fund in their budget; they employ free tools and quick fixes, which can be at times problematic. Without appropriate IT resources, there are lots of opportunities which can lead to potential patient data breaches. The best way for risk prevention policy is to find qualified IT support that you can entrust for security patient information.

Train your staff
The staff members need to be trained and educated about your data security strategies. Data security violations arise through simple slip-ups, such as mobile devices with code words and failure to lock computers, and transfer of sensitive information to unencrypted USB drives.

Set up and update anti-virus software
In the day to day activities, practices keep in touch electronically with several sites and healthcare networks. It is essential to have sufficient malware and virus protection programs for all devices in your facility particularly if they are used in accessing the EHR (Electronic Health Records) system.

What types of systems need to be in place in your practice?

In order to provide a better health service, there are various benefits provided by electronic medical record (EMR) software. EMR software has helped to reduce the time taken while searching and revising medical records, all doctors and staff can now dedicate their time looking after their patients.

There are three types of EMR software accessible. The web-based software has a few installation and integration attributes since it can just be accessed via the web. The custom made software is devised to provide the exact type of service that a health facility or clinic requires. Off-the-shelf software offers a more rational alternative to health EMR applications as it is inexpensive and more suitable to setup for security patient information.

The best way to ensure that you acquire the right system is to ask for a trial period. Several software providers consent to such terms, in order to win your tender.

What to do if patient data records have been compromised

If your security breach has been compromised, it does mean that you are a victim of identity theft. Your first step should be to find out what type of violation has taken place. This will aid you to determine the action that you should to take.

If the breach entails a theft, for instance, a facility should call the police prior to assessing the degree of the damage.

Notify affected patients – during the inquiry you may notify affected patients that their records have been compromised. However, not all breaches necessitate warning. For instance, if the information was encrypted it does not require you to notify them. Engage your legal representatives to decide if notification is necessary.

The simple and significant service that EMR software offers to medical practice is productive as compared to advanced medical training in security patient information.

Avoid These Common Billing Mistakes

medical billingBilling is an important part of every business and can lead to major losses if it is not well done. It’s important to keep your billing in good check; it helps to maximize your practice revenue. Like any business you need to stay profitable but not with these billing mistakes:-

Not filing claims on time – Consultations and treatments are covered mainly by insurance companies. Filing claims in a timely manner is essential to your practice revenue success. If claims are not filed in a timely manner they can be denied.

Not keeping up-to-date – Medical practices and hospitals are budget conscience. Failing to keep up-to-date with new coding rules and initiatives is an expensive mistake. It results in lost revenue and potential compliance risk for practices.

Following up on claims – So many doctors are faulted for not following up on claims. Checking claims is a continuous process and if you do not remain proactive in monitoring it will lead to loss of revenue. When it comes to reporting claims most practices loss money to aging claims and reports.

Not reviewing clearinghouse reports – A doctor’s office is a busy place and it can be challenging for billing. Clearinghouse reports can start to accumulate and without proper planning you may have no time to read through. Keeping reports in check will keep you from losing money.

Selecting the wrong procedure code – With more than 70,000 CPT codes, it’s easy to select an incorrect procedure code. Incomplete or inaccurate code descriptions on encounter forms, cheat sheets, and electronic charge systems are a significant source of error. Such errors can significantly affect your medical revenue leading to a huge loss.

Billing mistakes can cause a loss in revenue. It’s an important aspect for every business to have a structured billing system. For your practice take the time to create a specific and well scheduled billing system – the time and effort will result in a stable revenue flow with less errors.

Ancillary Services Help Physicians Stay Focused on What’s Most Important

 

 

ancillary servicesIt is an undisputed fact that doctors are highly committed to the care of their patients. It is for this reason that so much time and money is invested by conscientious doctors in staying as up-to-date as possible with the latest treatments, techniques and developments in the field of medicine. It is also a fact, however, that this dedication to improvement, combined with the hectic day-to-day routine of running a practice and caring for patients, can make it more difficult for doctors to stay abreast of the most recent advances in patient aftercare. This is where ancillary services become invaluable.

It is a common misconception amongst the medical profession that ancillary service providers are all about the bottom line. That the integration of ancillary services would somehow lessen the integrity of the medical practice, as they push cheaper, inferior products that will give them greater profit but that are not in the best interests of the patient. A doctor would want to have confidence that the ancillary services they are aligning their practice with would share their integrity and vision for the practice.

Select OrthoDME  is an ancillary service provider committed to building lasting relationships with medical practices; relationships that are profitable for both parties, while ensuring that the number one focus is still to provide excellent patient aftercare. They do this in several mutually beneficial ways:

  • Medical policies and procedures are monitored to remain current. This ensures practices are offered the peace of mind that data analysis, coding (PDAC) rules and pricing regulations are strictly adhered to and that all state/federal protocols are met.
  • Select OrthoDME recruits, hires, trains, supervises, and re-educates their staff to perform all functions of the ancillary program on behalf of the providers. This includes assessing, educating and providing follow-up services to patients receiving in-house care.
  • Supervision of all reimbursement services are monitored, with charges pre-authorized, payments deposited daily and insurance claims tracked.

In short, doctors receive a steady stream of revenue into their practice, while having confidence that their patients are receiving the best possible aftercare. They also save costs by not having to employ expensive lawyers to ensure legal compliance is being maintained. Patients benefit by being presented with an image of efficiency and professionalism, instilling confidence that they truly are one of their doctors’ top priorities.

Naturally, diligent doctors would still have many questions about the nuances of ancillary services. Select OrthoDME  are available to answer any queries; whether that is a quick overview of the options available, or an in-depth presentation tailored to a specific medical practice.

5 Ethically Valid Situations for Patient-targeted Googling

Patient-Targeted Googling

Ever since Googling became a verb, people self-diagnosed and googled ailments.  The notion of a doctor googling their patient seems more of a breach of trust than self-diagnosis.  But what if someone might be inflicting harm on himself or could be a threat to others?  Should doctors be allowed to ‘Google’ their patients?

The current AMA guidelines are under debate.

Although the American Medical Association’s (AMA) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) have issued general guidance on use of the Internet and social media, they have not formally addressed the issue of patient-targeted Googling.

Should doctors tell patients they were googled?

Depends on the ratio of benefit to consequence.  All actions have consequences, both positive and negative.  Although PTG can be extremely helpful, it should be used with lots of care and caution.  Be aware of the consequences:

  • Trust
  • Bias
  • False Information

Did you know there is a Google Blind Spot?

Google is built to sell advertising, not be a collective of all a person’s activities.

The Google algorithm is complex and changing.  The latest update to the algorithm was about an individual’s search history and who they are connected to.  Each person will be served different results based on your geo-location, your search history and who you are connected to.  That said, in reality every search serves the viewer different results.

Acceptable or not?

What is the physician’s motivation? Is it going to bring benefit to the patient, or is it something self-serving or out of personal curiosity?

A doctor’s intention is the key in determining whether Googling is wrong.  If the core of their concern is with patient safety, that is more “acceptable reason.

The use of ‘patient-targeted Googling’ in medical crises, such as attempts to identify unconscious patients in emergency departments, seems very acceptable.

Five situations in which it may be ‘ethically valid and even warranted’ for doctors to engage in ‘patient-targeted Googling’:

  1. The doctor has a duty to warn of ‘possible harm’
  2. The patient has provided ‘evasive responses to logical clinical questions’
  3. The patient has made ‘improbable’ claims about their personal or family history
  4. The doctor has suspicions ‘regarding physical and/or substance abuse’
  5. The doctor has concerns over a suicide risk

As young adults who grew up on the internet become physicians, Googling patients is going to become more and more common. The Federation of State Medical Boards notes that physician use of digital tools will evolve along with technology and societal trends.

Have you ever taken the time to Google a patient?

Communication is Important Between Ancillary Services and the Physician’s Office

ancillary servicesWhen a physician uses Select OrthoDME in their office it not only assists in generating revenues for the physician’s practice, but it is also a great convenience for the patients.  The patient can receive the items they need without having to go to outside resources and all payments are handled through the physician’s office.

In order for this system to work smoothly there must be open and clear communications between the physician and Select OrthoDME. Here is a case study of why communication is so important:

“Select OrthoDME was recently audited by ZPIC (A Medicare division).  During the audit one claim was flagged for denial because a patient received an ankle brace and a lumbar sacral brace.   Select OrthoDME was able to overturn the denial because we had a clearly stated order, a solid diagnosis for both items, a well documented clinic note, a detailed written order with a clear HCPCS, product manufacturer, and part number.”

Select OrthoDME is the expert on the medical items we carry and must work closely with the doctor to verify that all paperwork is completed and filled out clearly so if there is an audit down the road, all paperwork is in order.  This is especially important when more than one device is required.

Does Outsourcing Billing Make Sense For Your Practice?

Outsourcing your billing needs make perfect sense for increasing your net collection rate, but the question is which billing company is right for your practice? Searching for a company that offers everything you need to make your practice run smoothly is difficult, not to mention time consuming.

When it comes to processing your DME claims, Select Ortho DME offers an ancillary service that is easy for your practice to implement and does the billing for you. We have a reputation of providing practices with a high 95% net collection rate.

These are the pertinent questions you need to ask before you choose an outsourced medical billing company or ancillary service.

What experience do you and your billers have in the billing industry?

Medical billing requires extensive, working knowledge of ICD- 10 and other coding formats. Expert billers are aware of the changes that takes place, and are able to adapt to local, state, and federal billing requests.  As part of our ancillary DME service, our fitters are trained in the latest ICD9 and 10 coding formats.  Our focus is to code a claim correctly the first time to avoid future denials due to errors.

Does your company respect or acknowledge HIPPA compliant policies?

When it comes to protecting private medical information, we enforce and uphold HIPPA compliant laws. We understand that healthcare providers want and need to protect their patient’s information. We offer several layers of protection to ensure patient’s records are security filed away.  Compliance is a huge benefit for using Select Ortho DME.

What types of reports do you send to our practice?

We keep you updated with daily, monthly or quarterly reports. We send you a sample, so you can decide which type of report(s) will work best for your practice. Understanding what you need is the key to effectively managing your practice.

Will the company adjust their processes to fit my needs?

Change is not all bad. Some change is actually good. You may not need to reinvent your entire process system, but a little updating might be necessary.  The good news with Select Ortho DME is that there is no need to adjust your current processes.  Even though we take care of the billing of the DMEPOS under your code, our fitters manage that process, thus freeing your staff’s time and efforts.

Will my office be alerted when industry issues or problems arise?

Not every medical biller provider offer this type of service. However, we will keep you updated about regulatory and industry changes, so you will always know what is going on. In the billing industry changes are often implemented on a regular basis, by government agencies or insurance companies.  It is part of our service to remain in the forefront of potential changes and communicate with your practice.

What happens when my office help is not available?

At Select Ortho DME, we make sure that your practice receives the same high quality service every day, even if your staff is unavailable. Because we use our own fitters and bill for the patients we see, your staff is not necessary to manage this ancillary service.  Our services include the proper coding of claims, which no practice can function without.

Should I call for references?

Yes, you should always check out the company you want to do business with, just like you check the background of a new hire. Find out how long the company has been in business, and how much experience they have. At Select Ortho DME we do the hiring and vetting for qualified fitters, who are already experienced in medical coding claims.

Why is it Important for Physicians to Consider Implementing Ancillary Services?

While the pursuit and practice of medicine is a higher calling, successfully monetizing the physician’s practice plays an increasingly larger role in assuring that that the good doctor will continue to pursue that calling. A business, like any other, the physician needs to develop a keen awareness of potential revenue streams, and structure their practice with an eye on capitalizing on those opportunities. Increasingly, business savvy surgeons and perceptive general practitioners alike are looking to the market advantages of adding ancillary services to their current menu of services.

Vertical and Horizontal Selling

From corporate moguls to mom and pop convenience store operators, selling ancillary services is crucial to economic success. As an example, consider the percentage of annual revenue that accrues to a car company offering in-house financing for their automobiles. This financial service is a seamless ancillary service that pairs naturally with the company’s primary mission: selling automobiles. These ancillary services–in this case automotive financing–affords the car manufacturer the chance to garner additional revenue streams through the offering of in-house financing, which also facilitates the company’s primary mission of selling the automobiles in the first place.

Similarly, the corner convenience store owner goes to great expense of offering the sale of gasoline, as classic ancillary services, knowing that the availability of fuel will draw customers into the store to purchase products with a much higher markup. In other words, selling gas at near break-even prices; the availability of ancillary services act as a draw for the busy commuter, who will be more likely to purchase the 200% marked-up blueberry muffin sitting beside the cash register.

The Future of Healthcare

Moving forward, the successful medical practice will look at ways of offering ancillary services, which will not only help control costs and provide additional revenue streams, but will also offer real value to the patient’s overall experience with the physician. Health practitioners know that the industry is in flux, and nowhere is this more evident than concerning the consumer expectations that patients are now bringing to the examination table. Simply stated, patients, as consumers, are looking for the same levels of convenience from their healthcare providers as they do with other aspects of their interaction with the market place.

Ancillary Services in the Healthcare Field

Thinking outside the box, just about every medical specialty offers an avenue for offering ancillary services. For instance, a specialist in the field of orthotics would find numerous avenues from which to offer an array of services aimed at augmenting the patient’s overall health care experience.

  • Physical Therapy
  • Psychology Testing
  • Drug Testing–toxicology
  • Drug Dispensing
  • Diagnostic MRI Testing
  • Cutting Edge Laser
  • Electro Myogram Services

As mentioned, inclusion of ancillary services should be done only after the health benefits to the patient are weighed, and the numbers have been crunched to determine whether the move makes sense from a business management point of view. Towards that end, the following caveats should be considered prior to implementing big changes to the business plan of the struggling practice.

  • Focus on Patients
  • High-Quality Care Should be Less Costly
  • Centered on Full Cycle of Care
  • Innovations Should be Rewarded

Making changes to the way health practitioners offer the ancillary services demanded by an expectant consumer marker, who also happen to be their patients, will result in creating value that is financially and medically beneficial to both parties in the treatment regime.

What Should a Practice Consider Before Implementing any Ancillary Service?

All professional fields have trends that change over time, and the medical field is no different. Traditionally, private practice has been a desirable position sought after by medical professionals, providing physicians with a more traditional day job, increased quality of life, and a better connection with patients. Unfortunately, the current insurance and economic climates have shifted, putting the futures of many private practices at risk.

In order to stay competitive in the market, many practices have begun implementing ancillary services, or additional health care practices designed to attract patients and increase revenue.

Many private practices that require additional revenue have found an outlet through patient benefits such as

  • orthotic bracing,
  • psychological testing, and
  • drug dispensing

By promoting better patient outcomes, doctors are able to keep their current patients and attract new ones, making a significant difference in their practice’s revenue cycle.

With a financial interest in mind, many practices around the country are eager to take advantage of an opportunity to increase profits. However, as with all business decisions, choosing to provide new services to patients is not one that should be made lightly. Making the choice to implement ancillary services should be done carefully and only after proper consideration.

Choose an Ancillary Service that Fits Your Practice.

There are many points the doctors within a medical practice must discuss before making the decision to alter a current business model. Firstly, it is important to choose services that fit with a practice’s current goals. There are dozens of ancillary services a practice can consider, but not all will be the right fit. For example, diagnostic screening may be very valuable to a large orthopedic practice while drug dispensing services can be a worthwhile investment for a pain management clinic. Choosing ancillary additions that are most useful to your practice’s standard patient is the most effective way to build further.

What Will It Cost to Implement?

The cost of acquisition is also a significant factor practices need to consider. While diagnostic screening equipment could be valuable in many practices, new MRI machines cost over $2,000,000, a cost many practices cannot justify. In addition, the support certain services require should also be considered. An MRI requires a technician who can conduct the proper tests, and a drug distribution center requires a pharmacist, creating additional human capital costs on top of securing space or purchasing equipment.

Will This Service Make Your Practice More Competitive?

The potential in your market is a very important factor as well. Different parts of the country have different medical emphases, and similar practices within a market must rely on the needs of the community to remain competitive. The size of your practice and your competitive influence must be a critical part of the consideration process.

In addition to these large points, there are numerous other factors to ponder, including identifying your target market, making a plan to advertise your new services, reaching out to your target customer base, and recognizing the potential related services you could include as your practice expands. Choosing a direction only after a logical analysis of what your practice can offer is far more valuable than selecting an ancillary service on a whim and hoping everything works in your favor.

Increase Your Reach, Attract New Patients, Stay Competitive

Making the decision to expand your private practice can be a positive, upward move for physicians hoping to break the cycle of declining profits. Adding the right ancillary services has the ability to increase your reach, attract new patients, and keep your practice competitive in the local and national market. With the right approach and consideration, making a choice to implement additional services can be the change your practice needs.

6 Blind Spots That Slow a Practice’s Response to Competition

The healthcare community is growing at a rapid pace, and with growth comes change. In order to effectively market their practices, medical practices need to be able to evaluate and position themselves to compete with their colleagues in order to see continued success. Position your business above other practices you have identified as “competition”. You don’t need to overdo trying to beat them, you just need to be a little bit better. Identify areas where you can be just a little bit better.

Six common areas exist, where health care managers see a need to take an active role in positioning themselves to better compete with other related professionals. These “blind spots” can effectively ruin a health care organization if not dealt with, and handled effectively. Organized competitor intelligence that are put into play will ensure a company stays relevant in the marketplace and boosts their edge over other health care professionals.

If you are considering adding on an ancillary service, make sure you do your homework on your competition.

Managing Boundaries

Health care managers typically focus their attention and analysis in their local marketplace. Due to tremendous growth and growing competition, patients seeking medical care are now willing to travel further, go to different areas, and seek help in different varieties of services. If your practice focuses only on the local area, you are doing a disservice to your business. Patients are shopping around for better prices, variations on services, and care that is more specialized. They are seeking healthcare outside of their local “boundaries”, and to stay competitive you need to evaluate what they are doing to grow their businesses.

Competitor Identification

In order to compete, you must first identify who your competition is. In order to effectively compare one company to another, business models have to be taken into account. In today’s marketplace, healthcare revenues generated by hospital care are down, while more direct care organizations see an increased revenue stream. Misjudging the industry and service areas will lead to poor analysis. The focal point not only needs to be on the major competitors, but also on emerging and lesser known organizations that do not always fit in with traditional healthcare organizations.

Viable Competence

Only looking at one angle of the competition, commonly the visible activities and practices will create an ineffective strategy. When preforming an analysis of the competition, take into account all the various activities of that business. Look at and evaluate their organizational structure, human resources, service features, management acumen, culture, and be able to predict how they plan to position themselves in the market. Focus on what they can do in the future as well as what they are doing in the present. Underestimating their resources and business model can lead to a flawed analysis.

How To Better Compete In Certain Areas

Area competitor analysis requires understanding the market, identifying competitors, and the ability to evaluate them. General health care trends and issues need to be synthesized into the analysis as well. This needs to be explicit input into the formulation of the organizations stratagem for competing. Step one of this is to better understand specific services and categories that an organization provides to its customers. The service must then be specified for the various service and categories. The structure and competitive dynamics should then be assessed. Each competitor providing services in the same category should be evaluated and analyzed. Only then can the proper analysis be synthesized and implications drawn.

Faulty Assumptions Regarding the Competition

Evaluating the strength and weaknesses of each competitor is essential to positioning your business for growth. However, often many underestimate their competition. Quantative and qualitative information needs to be used for a thorough analysis.

Other Strategic Questions To Evaluate To Best Position Your Company

1.Is the strategy in line with the competitive environment?

2.Do you have an honest and accurate appraisal of the competition?

3.Have you underestimated the competition?

4.Has the rivalry in the service category or service area changed?

5.Have the barriers to entering the service area or category changed?

6.Does the strategy leave you vulnerable to the power of any major customers?

7.Have there been any changes in the number or availability of substitute products or services?

8.Is the strategy vulnerable to a successful counterattack by the competitors?

9.Does the strategy follow that of a strong competitor?

10.Will the strategy put your business up against a powerful competitor?

11.Is the market sufficient to be competitive and generate an acceptable profit?

Service area competition analysis is an important aspect to any healthcare related company. With advances in medicine, different medical approaches, and an ever-changing landscape over the past decade, anyone in the medical profession needs to be able to effectively evaluate and compete against other businesses. This is especially important when competing in the same category and profession. Analysts must be competent and have the ability to judge all aspects of the competitors business and business model. Evaluation of competitor strengths and weaknesses, competitor strategy, strategic groups, critical success factors, and likely competitor actions and responses need to be analysis to position your business to be fully competitive.

Finally, service area and competitor information should be synthesized and strategic conclusions drawn to allow recommendations to be made on either implementing or not certain ancillary services to grow your practice’s revenue.

If you would like to learn more about beating your competition, contact us, we have several suggestions.

What are Ancillary Services for Physician Practices?

The landscape for private practice physicians is ever-changing, ebbing and flowing with trends in health care and the current economic environment. Doctors’ motivations for going into private practice are varied, ranging from quality of life to improved relationships with patients. Unfortunately, with the economic downturn in 2008 and the rapidly changing insurance climate, some private practices are seeing a sharp drop in patients, services, and, unfortunately, revenue.

According to a study performed by the market research group SK&A, there are over 200,000 private practices in the United States. This is a marked drop over the last decade; the number of independent U.S. physicians in the private sector decreased from 57 percent in 2000 to 39 percent in 2012. Doctors are returning to hospitals and specialty clinics, due in part to increasing technology costs and the rising cost of insurance coverage. Whether from reduced reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, third party payers, and increased competition in the market, private practice isn’t as appealing as it used to be for many physicians.

As the costs of care increase, doctors are seeing dramatic reductions in patient visits. More patients than ever are skipping annual checkups, delaying treatment, and phoning in refill requests instead of making appointments. As patients take actions to save money, doctors are finding themselves with fewer patients and a significant reduction in revenue.

So, what are the options available to physicians? How can a practice drive other revenue outside of basic health care services? What can practices do to increase popularity, create a competitive atmosphere in the local community, and attract new patients? With these needs in mind, more and more practices are beginning to implement ancillary services.

Ancillary services describe any additional services and technologies that doctors can advertise, use, and subsequently bill for. Whether it’s drug testing, physical therapy, or diagnostic screenings like MRIs, clinics and practices are looking for new ways to entice patients with added benefits that competitors can’t match.

When implemented properly, ancillary services provide patients with a better outcome, allowing them to receive complete treatment in one office, rather than requiring trips all over town to prepare for a simple procedure. These added services give patients a reason to choose one practice over another and schedule more visits, allowing practices to benefit from an increased patient load and, consequently, increased revenue.

These ancillary services are rapidly growing in popularity, providing doctors with new and innovative ways to keep their practices moving forward. However, the road to building a successful practice is not without its hurdles. Before taking steps to implement new services, it is important to understand what ancillary practices complement the services your team already offers and what specific treatments are enticing to your clients.

With the right approach and the proper preparation, the addition of ancillary services to your private practice can keep your business afloat through good times and bad. When you take the right approach to improving your revenue cycle, you are in a position to see the growth your practice needs.