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Mary Pat and Dr. Peter Polack Discuss (Approximately) 101 Ideas to Increase Revenue and Decrease Costs in a Two Part Podcast

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Mary Pat recently sat down with Peter Polack, MD of Medical Practice Trends for another podcast to talk about one of the most important parts of any practice: The Bottom Line. In this two-part podcast series, Dr. Polack and MP discuss ideas for cutting costs and raising revenue to strengthen any group’s financial position.

Click here to listen to part 1

Click here to listen to part 2

Posted in: Day-to-Day Operations, Finance, General, Manage My Practice Classics

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A Manage My Practice Classic: 101 Ideas for Increasing Revenue and Decreasing Expenses in Your Medical Practice

Mary Pat’s Note: This post has always been popular because it answers one of the most burning questions in Healthcare: “How can I improve my bottom line?” If you have used any of these ideas in your practice- or have some of your own to share- let us know in the comments below!

 

BUILD ON WHAT YOU’RE CURRENTLY DOING:

1. Add physician hours – add evening or weekend hours; start your office hours earlier and end hours later.

2. Reduce physician time off – decrease vacation or change weekly days off to 1/2 days off.

3. Set a minimum number of providers to be in the office seeing patients at all times the office is open.

4. Have each provider add one new patient visit to his/her schedule weekly.

5. Add ePrescribing to recoup additional Medicare revenue and streamline prescribing (there are free ePrescribing software packages available, but evaluate them carefully so they don’t add more complexity to the system instead of less.)

6. Report PQRI measures to recoup additional Medicare revenue.

7. Charge patients an out-of-pocket fee for completing patient forms – disability forms, etc. and reserve office visits for treating patients.

8. Choose an EMR that qualifies your practice for the ARRA money (although it has been widely promoted that in a larger practice, an EMR and its associated work will cost more than you will get from the government.)

9. If you are in an underserved or rural area, check to see if there might be grants or funds available locally, in the state or federally, for adding a service to your practice.

10. If your practice does Independent Medical Exams (IMEs), reviews records or depositions, make sure that your fee schedule for such services is current and that the fees are collected before the physician provides the service.


ADD TO YOUR CURRENT SERVICES:

11. Allergy testing & treatment

12. Dispensing pharmaceuticals

(more…)

Posted in: Day-to-Day Operations, Electronic Medical Records, Finance, Manage My Practice Classics

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My Notes on the March 22, 2011 CMS Open Door Forum on Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRI) for the Beginner

Very scary

Today’s CMS Open Door Forum was a good one. The slides (pdf here), although reviewed quickly during the call, are a comprehensive resource for anyone needing in-depth information on qualifying for incentives through PQRI. The information is complex, but anyone can start the process tomorrow and successfully get their check (next year.)

PQRI has been renamed PQRS.

These are the key points of the information presented:

  1. You can tell if you are eligible for the incentive program by checking the main PQRS site here. Scroll down to Downloads and click on “List of Eligible Professionals.”
  2. There is no registration required to report quality data.
  3. PQRS should not be confused with incentives offered for ePrescribing or meaningful use of a certified Electronic Health Record – these are three distinct systems.
  4. There are new Physician Quality Reporting Measure Specifications every year – use the correct year.
  5. Reporting can be done as individual eligible providers or as groups, however groups needed to be self-nominated by January 31, 2011, so that door is closed for this year.
  6. Eligible providers can choose to report for 12 months: January 1”“December 31, 2011 or for 6 months: July 1-December 31, 2011 (claims and registry-based reporting only.)
  7. There are two reporting methods for submission of measures groups that involve a patient sample selection: 30-patient sample method and 50% patient sample method. An “intent G-code” must be submitted for either method to initiate intent to report measures groups via claims. If a patient selected for inclusion in the 30-patient sample did not receive all the quality actions and that patient returns at a subsequent encounter, QDC(s) may be added (where applicable) to the subsequent claim to indicate that the quality action was performed during the reporting period.
    Physician Quality Reporting analysis will consider all QDCs submitted across multiple claims for patients included in the 30-patient samples.
  8. Eligible professionals who have contracted with Medicare Advantage (MA) health plans should not include their MA patients in claims-based reporting of measures groups using the 30 unique patient sample method. Only Medicare Part B FFS patients (primary and secondary coverage including Railroad Medicare) should be included in claims-based reporting of measures groups.
  9. Choose which group measures OR individual measures (3 minimum) you want to report on based on your method of reporting. Review your choices here.
  10. If you plan to report using a registry or EHR, make sure the systems are qualified by checking here.
  11. Here is the schedule for PQRS incentives and “payment adjustments” (financial dings.)
  • Incentives (based on the eligible professional’s or group’s estimated total Medicare Part B PFS allowed charges)
    • 2007 ”“1.5% subject to a cap
    • 2008 ”“1.5%
    • 2009, 2010  ”“2.0%
    • 2011 ”“1%
    • 2012, 2013, 2014 ”“0.5%
  • Payment Adjustments (you lose money)
    • 2015 ”“98.5%
    • 2016 and subsequent years ”“98.0%

What follows are the Questions and Answers from the listeners.

Q: Do PQRS measures need to be reported once per encounter or once per episode?

A: It depends on the measure. Check the list to see what each measure requires.

Q: Is there a code to submit if we cannot qualify due to low numbers of Medicare patients?

A: No, CMS will calculate this and will know you cannot qualify and you will be exempt from the payment adjustment.

Q: Can both admitting physicians and consulting physicians submit the same quality codes?

A: Yes, all eligible providers working with a patient can report the same code if appropriate.

Q: How do we know if we qualified for the eRx incentive for 2010?

A: Payments will come early fall and feedback reports will be available that break down each provider’s incentive.

Q: For the eRx incentive, is it 10 eRxs before June 30, 2011 and 25 before January 31, 2011 for each PROVIDER or each PRACTICE?

A: Each provider.

Q: What is the difference between the numerator and the denominator in PQRS?

A: The numerator is the clinical quality action (for instance, putting a patient on a beta blocker) and the denominator is the group of patients for whom the quality action applies (which patients with appropriate diagnoses are eligible for beta blocker therapy.)

Q: Do all the preventive measures in this group have to be utilized?

A: Not all measures will apply to all patients, for instance mammograms for females only.

Q: Is there a code to be placed on the claim that says a measure is not applicable for this patient?

A: No.

Q: How do you know if a measure code on a claim has been accepted?

A: You will receive a rejection code on your EOB that indicates the code was submitted for information purposes only. Remittance Advice (RA) with denial code N365 is your indication that Physician Quality Reporting codes were passed into the National Claims History (NCH) file for use in calculating incentive eligibility.

Q: How can a new provider get started with quality reporting?

A: Any provider can start any time by reporting through claims, a registry or an EHR.

Q: Should providers bill for PQRI under their individual number or under their group number?

A: Under their individual number.

Q: Can a physician delegate the eRx process to a staff member, just as they might have a nurse write a prescription for them?

A: Yes.

Q: Can you clarify the three incentive programs and which a practice can participate in at the same time?

A: The Physician Quality Reporting System, eRx Incentive Program, and EHR Incentive Program are three distinctly separate CMS programs.

The Physician Quality Reporting System incentive can be received regardless of an eligible professional’s participation in the other programs.

There are three ways to participate in the EHR Incentive Program: through Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Medicaid.

If participating in the EHR Incentive Program through the Medicaid option, eligible professionals are able to also receive the eRx incentive.

If participating in the Medicare or Medicare Advantage options for the EHR Incentive Program, eligible professionals can still report the eRx measure but are only eligible to receive one incentive payment. Eligible professionals successfully participating in both programs will receive the EHR incentive.

Eligible professionals should continue to report the eRx measure in 2011 even if their practice is also participating in the Medicare or Medicare Advantage EHR Incentive Program because claims data for the first six months of 2011 will be analyzed to determine if a 2012 eRx Payment Adjustment will apply to the eligible professional.

If an eligible professional successfully generates and reports electronically prescribing 25 times (at least 10 of which are in the first 6 months of 2011 and submitted via claims to CMS) for eRx measure denominator eligible services, (s)he would also be exempt from the 2013 eRx payment adjustment.

The transcript and a recording of today’s call will be posted on the CMS website within a few weeks.

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Posted in: Day-to-Day Operations, Medicare & Reimbursement

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101 Ideas for Increasing Revenue and Decreasing Expenses in Your Medical Practice

BUILD ON WHAT YOU’RE CURRENTLY DOING:

1.  Add physician hours – add evening or weekend hours; start your office hours earlier and end hours later.

2.  Reduce physician time off – decrease vacation or change weekly days off to 1/2 days off.

3.  Set a minimum number of providers to be in the office seeing patients at all times the office is open.

4.  Have each provider add one new patient visit to his/her schedule weekly.

5.  Add ePrescribing to recoup additional Medicare revenue and streamline prescribing (there are free ePrescribing software packages available, but evaluate them carefully so they don’t add more complexity to the system instead of less.)

6.  Report PQRI measures to recoup additional Medicare revenue.

7.  Charge patients an out-of-pocket fee for completing patient forms – disability forms, etc. and reserve office visits for treating patients.

8.  Choose an EMR that qualifies your practice for the ARRA money (although it has been widely promoted that in a larger practice, an EMR and its associated work will cost more than you will get from the government.)

9.  If you are in an underserved or rural area, check to see if there might be grants or funds available locally, in the state or federally, for adding a service to your practice.

10.  If your practice does Independent Medical Exams (IMEs), reviews records or depositions, make sure that your fee schedule for such services is current and that the fees are collected before the physician provides the service.


ADD TO YOUR CURRENT SERVICES:

11.  Allergy testing & treatment

12.  Dispensing pharmaceuticals

13.  Dispensing nutriceuticals

14.  Dispensing Durable Medical Equipment

15.  Group patient visits

16.  Coumadin Clinic

17.  Heart Failure Clinic

18.  Diabetes Education Classes

19.  Add primary care to specialty care practices

20.  Add specialty care to primary care practices

21.  Research

22.  Joint Ventures with other practices or hospital

23.  Lease space to other entities

24.  eVisits (virtual visits or email visits)

25.  Elective procedures or services

26.  Mid-level providers

27.  Walk-in clinic

28.  Occupational medicine: drug screens, employment physicals, etc.

29.  Hospitalists

30.  Medical Director of local nursing homes

31.  Complementary & alternative medicine (CAM)

32.  Aging in Place services

33.  Social worker

34.  Concierge practice

35.  School team physician

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EVALUATE YOUR REVENUE CYCLE MANAGEMENT:

36.  Are you renegotiating payer contracts regularly?

37.  Do your scheduling staff know how to educate patients about what payers you have contracts with and are in network with and what the patient’s financial responsibility will be?

38.  Do staff know what typical new patient charges are to tell the patient?

39.  Do you check every patient’s eligibility for insurance benefits immediately prior to every service?

40.  Do you have patients sign a financial policy to acknowledge what they are responsible for based on their payer type?

41.  Do you copy the patient’s insurance cards at every visit, or at least compare their current card to the card you have on file?  Are you able to scan patient insurance cards and driver’s licenses into your practice management (PM) system?

42.  Is your PM system able to download the information from the scan into the patient registration screen?  If not, do you have a way to confirm that demographic and insurance information has been entered correctly from the cards?

43.  Are your charges being posted daily?

44.  Does the person who provides the service, or a documentation coding specialist, choose the CPT and ICD9 code?

45.  Is the documentation for the charges being completed within 24 hours of the service?

46.  Is your encounter form up-to-date with current CPT and ICD9 codes; do you order smaller batches of them so you can change the codes as new services are added in the practice?

47.  Do you check the CPT and ICDD9 matching to make sure the codes are valid for the year, the codes adhere to NCCI and LCD edits before you finalize the charges?

48.  Do you regularly audit medical records for coding and documentation and give providers feedback on where coding could be improved?

49.  Are you using ABNs for Medicare patients who want services that Medicare might not pay for?

50.  Do you file claims daily?

51.  Do you correct claims daily when they are rejected at the practice management, claims clearinghouse or payer level?

52.  Do you correct claims daily when they are rejected at the claim level and are not paid for for reasons that can be corrected?

53.  Do you have your contract allowables in your PM system so you know when you are not being paid correctly by contract?

54.  Do you appeal unpaid or underpaid claims?

55.  Do you check recoupments or requests for refunds from payers and make sure they truly should be refunded?

56.  Do you send insurance and patient payments to a lockbox to be scanned and stored digitally for your staff to post from?

57.  Do you make payment arrangements in the office for balances after insurance has paid, or payment plans by drafting credit or debit cards?

58.  Do you have a policy of not sending statements?

59.  Do you collect the patient’s portion of the service at the time of service?

60.  Do you collect fees for elective services prior to providing these services?

61.  Can your patients make payments online through your website?

62.  Do you file a claim with a patient’s estate if they have died?

63.  Do you accept cash only from patients who have passed bad checks?

64. Do you accept cash only from patients who have filed bankruptcy with your practice?

65.  Do you inadvertently see patients who have been dismissed from your practice?

66.  When adding a physician to the practice, do you timeline the credentialing appropriately so the physician can see patients with insurance as well as those without?

67.  If your new physician is only partially credentialed with payers, do you have him/her see the patients with payers they are credentialed with and add payers to their schedule load as the credentialing comes through?

68.  Do you meet with representatives from your largest payers monthly to establish relationships and bring problems to their attention? (the squeeky wheel theory of payer relations)

69.  Are you pre-certing everything that needs pre-certification or pre-authorization or pre-notification to be sure the service will be paid?

70.  Are you receiving payments via electronic funds transfer (EFT)?

71.  Are you receiving explanation of benefits (EOBs) or remittance advice (RA) electronically?

72.  Are you posting your RA electronically?

73.  Are you protecting your practice from embezzlement? (see my post on this here.)

74.  Is someone in the practice responsible for staying current on changing coding requirements for Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare and commercial payers?

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DECREASE EXPENSES:

75.  Eliminate overtime. Evaluate the need for additional staff (part-time?) vs. overtime.

76.  Send some staff home (sometimes called “low census”) when there are no patients to be seen.

77.  Use volunteers. Tap into the local hospital volunteers, or recruit and train your own.

78.  Hire an after-school student employee to do routine jobs.

79. Discontinue paying staff for inclement weather closings when the practice is not open.

80.  Shop everything. Negotiate existing service contracts.  Do not assume anything is non-negotiable.  Negotiate the rent.

81.  Get rid of yellow pages advertising. It rarely brings you new patients and is primarily a place to look up phone numbers.  You will still get your white pages listing free with your phone service.

82.  Utilize pre-employment testing to make sure job applicants have the skills you need.

83.  Shop postage machines or look into stamps.com.

84.  Join a group purchasing entity (hospital, professional association, etc.)

85.  Improve your accounting cycle. Invoices and statements are matched up with packing slips and negotiated prices.  Use purchase order numbers.

86.  Get the payment discount by paying on time or early – ask vendors for an on-time or early payment discount.

87.  Make sure office supplies are not going home with the employees.  Make sure office supplies that are ordered are “really need” and not “sure would be nice.”

88.  Remind patients of their appointments to decrease no-shows.  Call patients who no-show and attempt to reschedule (unless they feel better!)  Track no-shows and evaluate the reasons for them.

89.  Consider charging for no-shows or dismissing patients for no-shows.

90.  Have a good recall system in place.  If patients leave without scheduling a needed follow-up, make sure that they are called if they have not scheduled within a certain amount of time.  Keep track of annual wellness visits and remind patients to schedule them.

91.  Take advantage of any discounts offered by your malpractice carrier by completing risk management surveys and having speakers give annual updates on decreasing malpractice claims.  Some carriers give discounts for managers who are members of MGMA or Fellows in the ACMPE.

92.  Evaluate any discounts on services or products offered by your physicians’ professional associations and societies.

93.  Evaluate your leases – are those big old copiers and faxes worth paying for a service contract?

94.  Consider speech recognition/voice recognition and eliminate transcription.

95.  Review your computer maintenance contracts. Are you paying for maintenance on equipment or software that is no longer being used?

96.  Take advantage of online CME for physicians, midlevel providers, clinical staff and managers.

97.  Make plans to attend face-to-face seminars well in advance to take advantage of early enrollment discounts and good flight deals.

98.  Evaluate outsourcing. Think about outsourcing transcription, coding, billing, pre-authorizations, credentialing, switchboard, payroll, accounting and medical records copying.

99.  Replace your answering service with an answering machine educating patients on the limited reasons for calling after hours and giving the number of the physician on call.

100. Destroy archived financial and medical records that you are paying to store, once you have ascertained that they exceed the required time limit.

101.  Hold a brainstorming session with the staff and ask for their ideas for increasing revenue and reducing expenses.  The people on the front lines will have excellent ideas.  In return, do not nickle and dime the staff to death by charging for coffee, reducing parking stipends or eliminating uniform allowances.  Keep in mind that for your rank and file staff, having to pay for their own uniforms or paying more for parking might be a deal-breaker that causes them to search for work elsewhere.  Try to focus on the bigger items for savings and make sure the staff know you are trying to keep their small benefits in place in appreciation for their work.

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