Proper Management of the Front Desk Team & the link to High Collection Rates for Pediatric Practices

August 3, 2012 in Uncategorized by support Team  |  Comments Off on Proper Management of the Front Desk Team & the link to High Collection Rates for Pediatric Practices

The Revenue cycle is comprised of a front, middle and back end. Practice Managers need to optimize all three components for a practice to achieve an optimal collection rate. The front end of the revenue cycle is the front desk team in the practice. The front desk team members of a practice need to verify insurance eligibility as well as collect co-pays and any outstanding balances. Insurance eligibility can be verified via an automated link from the practice management system/clearing house to the insurance companies, Navinet or by calling the insurance companies. The owner as well as the practice manager of a practice need to insure that this activity is occurring accurately and consistently by the front desk team. The practice should check that the co-pay report for the day matches the co-pays collected. Also, the practice owner/manager should check-in with the back end billing team (billing company) to obtain feedback on the rate of accuracy of entering insurance and demographics by the front desk team. “Sloppy” work and/or lack of attention to detail by the front desk team can cause loss of revenue and/or delays in revenue.

The middle of the revenue cycle is comprised of the providers and clinical team properly documenting the charts as well as recording the diagnosis and CPT codes. This should be completed during the day of service and accurately. The back end of the revenue cycle is the billing team ‘scrubbing’ and verifying complete claims prior to sending to the insurance company. Additionally, the back end team will re-submit claims (make appropriate corrections) as well as send out patient statements and communicate to the front desk team for patients that have balances. The front desk team needs to effectively work with the back-end billing team to close the communication gap. When the front, middle and back-end of the revenue cycle is optimized due to good practice management, practices achieve better collection rates and faster payments than the average. For instance, we have practices that are 50% paid by the insurance company five days after the month closes (e.g. July is 50% paid for all insurance charges by August 5th).

Each member of the team needs to understand their role in the revenue cycle. Practice Managers as well as physician partners should be monitoring performance of the front desk team, the providers as well as the work of the back end billing team. Collaboration and cooperation as well as a skilled and dedicated team are critical to achieving the best success.

Using Lean Six Sigma to Optimize the Revenue Cycle in Pediatric Practices

June 1, 2012 in Uncategorized by support Team  |  Comments Off on Using Lean Six Sigma to Optimize the Revenue Cycle in Pediatric Practices

I enjoyed meeting with clients and potential clients in their Pediatric office. Pediatricians have such a challenging and rewarding career to treat the children of our future. Children should not be treated medically as “small adults” and have special needs and treatments based on a variety of factors including family history, their environment, social economic status, etc. Similar to the special needs of treating children, Pediatric Practices have specific needs to optimize the operation from a revenue cycle perspective. Unfortunately, I have seen too many Pediatric Practices where the practice is operating at a level that reduces the effectiveness of the practice as well as reduces the revenue cycle for the practice. When I walk in these practices I see money flowing out the door without the partners/owners knowing (usually because they do not have time as well as the training to see these gaps as well as the complexity of the revenue cycle). In many of these practices the missing revenue is thousands of dollars a month! There are many tools to help practices optimize there effectiveness including LEAN Six Sigma.

Lean Six Sigma is a quality tool that gained much fame via manufacturing processes (e.g. Toyota – quality focus) before being leveraged in other areas such as business processes and systems. One of the principles of lean six Sigma is continuous improvement in the operation and processes. So how can Lean Six Sigma be leveraged related to Pediatric Practice Management? Some examples include:
• Using LEAN principles to improve the Pediatric Revenue Cycle each month by identifying billing processes on the front end and back end of the revenue cycle that slow down the payment stream to the practice. One objective measure is Accounts Receivable (AR) Days. The AR days are simply the amount of Revenue Outstanding to be collected for the practice divided by the average revenue collected per day. An optimal practice should be below 30 (which means about a month of Accounts Receivable is pending at any one time). We are able to move some practices into the low 20s.
• Holding a Kaizen event to evaluate the front end and back-end of the revenue cycle for your practice. By involving the appropriate individuals to this event, practices can identify ‘pain points’ of the revenue cycle and some potential solutions/ideas on how to improve this pain point.
• Request the physicians and providers in the practice to evaluate and determine the amount of time spent documenting in the EMR system as well as the quality of the clinical documentation. Usually, one physician leader from the practice should be the point for this effort. The time invested should be to identify the most common as well as least common clinical conditions in the office, the time for needed for the visit and charting the visit as well as the consistency of the clinical documentation.

These are a few examples of how a Pediatric Practice can apply LEAN six Sigma principles to improve the practice. For the practice to appropriately apply a recommended improvement, it is critical that the practice leverages a Pediatric Electronic Health Record and Practice Management system that can be customized for the practice (Make sure and speak with your E.M.R./practice management system vendor to discuss if/how the system can be modified/customized based on practice process flow changes). Using LEAN Six Sigma can help improve the operation, the revenue as well as improve patient and provider satisfaction.

Phase I Meaningful Use for Pediatric Practices: The Need to Change or Modify Practice Processes

May 18, 2012 in Uncategorized by support Team  |  Comments Off on Phase I Meaningful Use for Pediatric Practices: The Need to Change or Modify Practice Processes

I was on the phone with one of our valued customers this morning discussing Phase I Meaningful Use and the details on the “how” related to Meaningful Use. The overall goal of Health and Human Services is that providers utilize a certified E.H.R. in a meaningful way. A group of individuals invested months of discussions and feedback to obtain a list of parameters. One challenge for the group is to provide a universal list that applies across all fields of medicine. Some of the parameters in Pediatrics only apply to a certain segment of the population. For example, smoking status is for patients greater than 13 years of age. There are core measures that each provider needs to meet the benchmark for all these measures during the 90 day period being measured as well as selecting a list of 5 of the 10 menu measures.

A good E.H.R. system should provide a simple manner for a physician and/or Practice Administrator to evaluate performance of each of these benchmarks as well as very easily ‘drill down’ to identify how to correct/update patient data associated with the measure. How to use a meaningful use dashboard should take minimal training and review. The E.H.R. vendor should be able to guide an individual in the practice on the process via a web meeting or teleconference. So if you selected the ‘right’ E.H.R. system for Pediatrics, using the software and monitoring meaningful use should be straight forward.

The ‘tough’ part of Meaningful use: Changes to how the practice operates. For example, most practices did not record language, race and ethnicity as part of their intake/demographics. This needs to be captured for over 50% of patients seen during the 90 day measurement period for Phase I. If your E.H.R. system is well design, the practice should be able to click on a link and show the patients that do not have this information during the 90 day period. The most efficient way to enter this information is to capture the data when the patient visits the office. The “ah-ha” moment for many individuals is when they first run a meaningful use report, then they make the changes to their office flow and intake forms as needed.

Some questions to ask related to Meaningful use and your Pediatric Practice: Are we entering all medications in the system and sending medications via electronic prescriptions? Do we list the problems for each visit and maintain the patient problem list? Are we maintaining our Medication list and Allergy List? Does our standard protocol for demographics include recording smoking status of patients >13 years of age? Do we record vitals on each visit? Can we connect to the immunization registry? Are we connected to the lab companies that we send the majority of our labs?
This is not meant to be an a complete list of questions but a list to stimulate thinking around meaningful use. There are many resources, websites and references to obtain detailed information. Good luck on meeting Phase I Meaningful Use!

Is Your Pediatric Practice Achieving >99% Collection Rate versus the Contract Amount?

April 27, 2012 in Uncategorized by support Team  |  Comments Off on Is Your Pediatric Practice Achieving >99% Collection Rate versus the Contract Amount?
2011 Pediatrician Pay versus other Specialities

2011 Pay of Pediatrician versus other Physician Specialities

Many Pediatricians look at their deposits in the practice bank account as well as track the increase/decrease in revenue. The practice has to provide optimal Pediatric care and achieve >99% collection rate to optimize the revenue collection process. Given that Pediatrics are the lowest paid specialty (per the 2011 Medscape Salary Survey – see link at http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/compensation/2012/public?src=ptalk&firstbullet), insuring that the practice achieves the revenue due per the contract is a necessity.

Increasing revenue year on year is important but an increase in revenue might not mean increased income/profit for the practice. For instance, if the practice has a 10% increase in visits that is due primarily to higher rates of vaccine visits, and the practice has vaccine leakage (loss of vaccines) as well as sub-optimal coding and billing follow-up, the overall practice profit might decrease. How could this happen and how could I prevent this from happening?

How a lower profit margin could happen? According to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) via benchmarking of collection rate, the average practice collects 95% of their contract amount. If a practice has ‘average’ billing systems and processes in place, per the MGMA benchmark of 95%, the practice would not see 5% of their revenue. If the practice had revenue of $1,000,000, they did not collect $50,000 of the contract amount (either the insurance or the patient did not pay). In addition to this, some practices lose entire visits because of the disconnect between the biller and the clinical (common when the practice fills out paper charts and paper billing sheets for a biller to complete). Some other ways that a practice has reduced revenue is improper coding. For example, if a child has a well visit and receives a MMR Vaccine, some billers miss the 90461 CPT code with 2 units. Some billers might send this CPT code but miss that the EOB only paid one of the units and they need to re-file the claim (e.g. 99391, 90707, 90460, 90461 (2 units)).

How could I prevent this from happening?
#1 insure that your Pediatric Practice leverages a medical billing system that is designed, developed and utilized only for Pediatrics.
#2 The Pediatric Medical Billing team needs to be trained and re-trained (at least 1x per quarter) in Pediatrics. The Pediatric E.H.R. should be integrated with this Pediatric Practice Management. The office needs to have audit systems in place to verify that co-pays are collected and match the insurance card as well as a monthly audit of the Pediatric Medical Biller.
#3 There also needs to be redundancies in the Medical Billers to manage the claims while a Pediatric Medical Biller is out sick or on vacation. I have seen both large (>8 providers) and small pediatric practices for which the entire revenue cycle was outdated and disconnected. Unfortunately, I have even seen a large Pediatric Group where the entire team had a significant gap in their knowledge and skills.
This will never be perfect BUT every practice should achieve >99% collection rate and strive for 99.8% (we have a few practices at 99.7%). At least each quarter and preferably once/month the practice should measure and monitor the collection rate.

Continuity of Care in Pediatric Practices & the Link to Cloud-Based E.H.R. Systems

April 13, 2012 in Uncategorized by support Team  |  Comments Off on Continuity of Care in Pediatric Practices & the Link to Cloud-Based E.H.R. Systems

While at the pharmacy waiting for prescription Medication, I experienced the gap in knowledge by the average patient. One patient requested a medication to treat his wife’s pink eye from the pharmacist. When she explained that his wife will need an antibiotic he asked if he could use the antibiotic he was using to treat his ears. She explained to him that his wife needed a health care provider to exam her then based on the diagnosis, prescribe the appropriate medication for her red eyes. The husband was not coordinating care with his wife’s primary care physician.

Many in the health care system are missing the big picture when they do not call their primary care physician. In pediatrics, the outcome of the patient can be improved via strong continuity of care. If a patient is atopic and calls the office about a reaction to a medication, the pediatrician can use this information to appropriately manage the patient as well as record the incidence in the patient’s history. From the patient’s point of view, strong coordination with their pediatric office could reduce their burden and costs associated with using the Emergency Room. The pediatrician receives calls after office hours. The information available to the pediatrician should be able to be accessed easily at any time. Cloud-based Pediatric E.H.R. systems provide the best option for easy access to patient information on multiple devices in multiple locations…smart phones, IPads, lap tops, home computers. Who wants the burden of ‘dial in’ to the office server as well as maintaining constant security of the server?

As coordination of care continues to evolve as well as the option in wireless devices, Pediatricians can continue to reduce admin burden, costs and improve continuity of care with cloud-based E.H.R. Systems.