Right EMR Platform

How the Right EHR and EMR Platform Can Reduce Physician Burnout

Importance of EHR and EMR:

A physician’s plate has never been more crowded. If you work in the medical field, you’re probably all too familiar with the problem of physician burnout. Studies reveal that between 25 percent and 60 percent of physicians across various specialties report burnout. A care environment creates unique challenges for managing the resources available against the work level required. Unfortunately, balancing the rigors of patient visits and documentation with personal development can be a recipe for burnout. One recent study exploring the issue cites mandates requiring physicians to keep meticulous records of their physician-patient encounters as a potential core contributor to physician burnout.

The solution to burnout is often in the details. This means streamlining where possible, eliminating bottlenecks, and making patient data as readily available as possible without compromising privacy. This can usually be achieved using a dynamic electronic medical record (EMR) or electronic health record (EHR) system. Unfortunately, a poorly designed and implemented system can amplify the pain points that create burnout. A study out of Yale University found that dissatisfaction with EHR systems stemming from poor usability may contribute to high professional burnout rates. This makes vetting an EHR system more important than ever for physicians, practice managers, and hospital administrators. An effective platform should increase efficiency for providers, open the potential for faster payouts, and add value for patients. Let’s discuss some of the features that can fight burnout by providing efficient, intuitive performance in care settings.

The Features to Look for in EHR and EMR Platforms

The very first feature that must be considered when looking at an EHR platform is its user-friendliness factor. It doesn’t matter if a platform can do everything if nobody in an office or clinical setting can figure out how to unlock features. The selected platform must be something that both physicians and staff members can be easily trained on. There’s a good chance that a platform is a good fit once it has been established that it has user-friendly features that are easy to master.

Time-Saving Features

Every moment a care provider spends wrestling with a non-compliant platform or digging around for charts is one less moment spent with a patient. Unfortunately, precious time is lost throughout the day at practices around the country only because chart information is missing, incomplete, or hard to find. This is one of the reasons why a cloud-based platform is such an attractive option. Cloud-stored files and data can’t get “lost” on one employee’s computer desktop. With a cloud platform, all patient data and files are updated and saved in an external, real-time environment. That means that information can be accessed from anywhere.

A program that makes it easy to pull up, reference, and update patient files is undoubtedly an essential part of saving time. Also, a program that is merely fast and streamlined also allows you to navigate channels for accessing data much faster. Lastly, a program should have intuitive navigation and categorization to help reduce time spent looking for what you need before, during, or after patient visits.

A Patient Portal

An EHR platform that only has a provider side is missing an essential piece of the picture. After all, patient care is never just about the provider side. It is a collaborative effort where the ability to share information is important for both communication and patient outcomes. Here are some of the things that a patient should be able to do using a care provider’s private portal:

  • Access their medical records.
  • View lab results when they come in.
  • Request prescription refills.
  • Schedule appointments.

A portal that provides these options is useful for two fundamental reasons. The first is simply that it saves the front-office staff countless hours of replying to phone calls and messages weekly. The second is that patients will enjoy more satisfaction by being able to access their records and results. This gives them a greater sense of control over their medical care. Additionally, they will appreciate the time saved by not having to either call an office or wait for a phone call.

Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) Certification

There is a significant advantage of using a platform that is MIPS certified. Easier reporting for Medicare payment adjustments results in higher and faster claims payouts. This means that a practice can passively increase its payout numbers. What’s more, staff members can often reduce the time spent on claims processing.

Smart Prescription Functionality

Another major asset is a platform’s ability to send and receive both prescriptions and lab orders electronically. This smooths out the process of handling prescriptions and labs while deepening accuracy. Of course, a platform that touts the ability to handle these functions must also automatically attach lab results to patient files and notify physicians when results are ready for viewing. This feature saves time for care providers. Besides, it provides added value for patients because it reduces the likelihood of waiting for results that have been overlooked due to system bottlenecks or oversights.

Integration With Existing Practice Management (PM) Software

What drives home the sophistication of an EHR platform is its ability to integrate with a practice’s existing PM system seamlessly. This helps to create synergy within a practice environment while reducing the clunkiness of continually trying to reconcile two completely separate systems. It also helps to reduce errors and typos that inevitably occur when manually transferring data between two different platforms.

An Efficient, Dynamic EMR Platform Is Crucial for Battling Physician Burnout

Physician fatigue is associated with low job satisfaction, decreased work productivity, medical errors, poor quality of patient care, early retirement, and many more obstacles to creating a dynamic, reputable care setting. It’s impossible to say how much physician burnout costs the healthcare industry each year. Some models estimate that approximately $4.6 billion is lost due to the turnover resulting from burnout. It works out to about $7,600 per physician annually at the organizational level. That is not a small number when you consider that the loss is repeated each year. Of course, the cost of recruiting and training a new high-level specialist can easily take a six-figure chunk out of a practice. That makes upgrading to a more burnout-proof EHR or EMR platform that will continue to provide cutting-edge cloud-based technology for years to come more than a wise investment.

EMRx was explicitly designed to reduce physician burden. It streamlines and automates critical features to minimize the “desk time” that needs to be put in for each patient case. It also offers reporting features that could potentially increase payouts. Schedule a demo to discover how EMRx can burnout-proof your practice!

The Physicians Lifeguard

Medical Billing

Why It’s Time to Consider Outsourcing Your Medical Billing

Medical Billing

Why It’s Time to Consider Outsourcing Your Medical Billing

Are administrative duties bogging down the way you run your practice? Many physicians are caught up in a cycle of devoting heavy hours and resources to medical billing that could be applied to providing innovative care and service. Being in a perpetual state of trying to catch up with outstanding patient bills does not place a practice in a strategic position for growth.

The need to push so many resources toward revenue management can drastically reduce a practice’s ability to grow and thrive. It can also result in lower levels of patient happiness and staff satisfaction. These things can set the tone for how a practice is perceived. Unfortunately, many doctors continue to push towards keeping payment collections in the office. They believe that this allows the practice a greater level of control. However, having to directly supervise or hire a medical office manager to supervise billing specialists only puts more of a burden on medical practices.

What does it really mean to manage a practice today? Physicians already spend more than 16 percent of their working hours on administrative duties. Research tells us that doctors who spend more time on administrative duties like medical billing have lower rates of career satisfaction. Factors like the implementation of electronic records and privacy risks associated with file management are behind why doctors feel burdened and unsatisfied in their work. In-house medical billing only increases administrative tasks.

It might be time to get billing out of your office. Outsourcing collection duties to revenue cycle management (RCM) firms gives you the freedom to invest time and resources back into your practice. Are you not sure if you are ready to take the plunge and outsource revenue management? Let’s look at some of the practical reasons why you may have simply outgrown in-house medical billing.

Why It’s Time to Consider Outsourcing Your Medical Billing

How much would an additional nurse, scheduling specialist, marketing manager or patient liaison make in the operation of your practice? These are roles that generate meaningful engagement and patient retention. Unfortunately, if you are bogged down with managing a payment staff, you may not have the revenue to hire additional staff.

An internal payment department for a smaller practice is one of the most difficult things to manage. These positions generally have notoriously high turnover rates. The repetition and lack of growth involved in these roles make it hard to keep talent. What’s more, professionals with the sophisticated skills needed for medical billing and medical coding prefer the salaries and perks that go along with working for larger firms. The result is that you end up putting lots of energy and resources toward maintaining a system that your patients will never see or benefit from.

You Want to Reduce Phone Calls

How many times has your front-desk staff been forced to put a patient on hold or ask a patient to wait patiently while they deal with bill-related calls? Is your office staff constantly being interrupted by questions related to charges all day long? Utilizing a third-party RCM company means that calls are directed to experts who can handle them instead of to your main phone number. This provides your office with an instant boost in the way it manages customer service.

You Want to Leave Security Worries Behind

The digitization of payments and records has created an entirely new kind of headache for physicians. Data breaches cost medical practices the most — almost $6.5 million per year — compared to all other industries. These breaches can affect organizations for years. Unfortunately, the responsibility of keeping payment records secure falls on you when you handle patient bills in-house.

Outsourcing to a larger company with the tech and security in place to protect patient data can take this very large responsibility off of your plate. In addition to passing on the work of managing bills, you’re also passing on the responsibility of safeguarding data. This can free up the investment you’d have to put into expensive IT systems necessary for guarding financial data belonging to patients.

You Want to Reduce Errors

Outsourcing patient bills can drastically improve the quality of service you provide to your patients because they won’t have to deal with as many errors. Third-party firms that specialize in payment intake have intricate, automated systems in place that scan for simple errors that could bog down the payment process. You probably already know that things like transposed numbers can keep a claim in limbo for weeks or months. In fact, one internal employee could lose an entire day simply trying to get to the bottom of why a claim is being denied. An outside firm can provide you with fewer denials, fewer pending claims and fewer disputes. Your patients are happier, you’re getting paid faster and your staff never has to spend hours tracking down claims.

You Want Cash Flow to Be Smoother and More Robust

Bottlenecks in cash flow can be detrimental to a practice’s bottom line. It can be very hard to wait for bills to be paid when you have lease payments and staff paychecks to think about. The productivity that is achieved through third-party bill management means faster turnaround times on claims. It’s not uncommon to wait up to two months to see cash intake using in-office methods. An RCM firm can often turn around full payment within seven days.

Is It Time to Rethink the Way Your Office Processes Revenue?

Your needs may have outgrown the way your office handles payments. The good news is that upgrading to a better way isn’t difficult. Outsourcing payment processing to an RCM firm is an option that’s available to practices of all sizes.

You’re turning your practice back into a space that’s focused on the patient when you outsource the management of patient bills to a third-party firm. This creates positive results for both your patients and your staff members. Now’s the time to explore how outsourcing one of your biggest and most frustrating tasks to a revenue cycle management firm can help your practice to thrive.  Schedule a demo to discover how you can relax yourself by outsourcing your medical billing.

The Physicians Lifeguard

HIPPA coaching

Why a Doctor’s Office of Any Size Needs HIPAA Coaching Now

HIPPA coaching

Why a Doctor's Office of Any Size Needs HIPAA Coaching Now?

Small and medium-sized medical practices offer a level of personalized care that patients appreciate. Of course, this “old-fashioned” approach to provider-patient relationships can make it easier to forget the intense scrutiny that all medical practices are under. Everyone who deals with patients or patient data in any capacity needs HIPAA training. This can place a smaller doctor’s office at a disadvantage because staff may not have the training or technical skills to develop and operate a fully compliant environment. Outside HIPAA coaching can often take care of this problem. However, it’s important to understand the complexities of obtaining and keeping HIPAA compliance in a data-driven medical landscape before implementing a plan.

The Damaging Impact of HIPAA Complaints

A HIPAA complaint can be damaging and costly for a medical practice. Unfortunately, doctors and practices face some steep fines when HIPAA violations are uncovered. Violations are grouped into four separate tiers:

  • Tier one: $100 to $50,000 per violation.
  • Tier two: $1,000 to $50,000 per violation.
  • Tier three: $10,000 to $50,000 per violation.
  • Tier four: $50,000 per violation.

Fine caps range from $25,000 to $1.5 million per year. Few medical practices could sustain a hit of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines in a single year. Receiving a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding a HIPAA violation is a very serious matter. HHS is collecting HIPAA fines at record numbers. In fact, the agency collected $28.7 million from HIPAA-covered entities and associates in 2018 alone. That figure follows several years of record-breaking fine collections.

The Complicated Task of Being HIPAA Compliant in a Data-Driven World

Each patient creates a complicated data trail that has to be stored and handled in very specific ways to avoid HIPAA violations. What’s more, medical practices of all sizes are required to follow specific administrative processes to prove that HIPAA compliance is being followed. Here’s a glance at the requirements that need to be in place:

  • A security-management process for preventing, detecting and containing all potential risks or violations.
  • Assigned security responsibility for one designated official.
  • Workforce-security protocol designed to control and restrict access to information.
  • Information-access management that restricts access to protected information via permission channels.
  • Security awareness and training that shares and enforces rules across an organization.
  • Security-incident procedures for addressing actual and potential data breaches.
  • Contingency plans for emergency situations that require data recovery or backup.
  • Evaluations that review, maintain and update policies and procedures based on the latest HIPAA updates.
  • Arrangements for associates and contractors to ensure compliance when working with third-party entities.
  • Facility-access controls that safeguard computers, servers, and storage systems.
  • Protocol for workstation/computer usage to avoid vulnerabilities.
  • Device and media controls that initiate procedures for storing or disposing of hardware, removable storage, and devices.
  • Access controls that establish privilege levels.
  • Audit controls for analyzing activity in the event of a data breach.
  • Proof of integrity.
  • Person or entity authentication through password protection, scans, and other data safeguards.
  • Transmission security when sending or transferring data.

It’s important to remember that a person’s intentions don’t need to be nefarious in order to qualify as a HIPAA violation. Accidentally losing a non-encrypted laptop containing patient records or emailing an unsecured document to a third-party can qualify. That’s why HIPAA-compliant systems and protocols must be in place for every transaction. What’s more, the protocols required to protect data from both internal and external threats.

What Counts as a HIPAA Violation?

There are really countless ways to violate HIPAA requirements. Many don’t seem obvious. The majority of violations made every year are due to negligence or partial compliance. Yes, theft or data hacks are sometimes responsible for violations. However, most violations happen because of innocent mistakes resulting from procedures that don’t follow compliance requirements. Here’s a look at common causes of HIPAA violations:

  • Discussing personal health information in public.
  • Posting personal health information online or via social media.
  • Theft or loss of computers or equipment containing personal health information.
  • Hacking, phishing scams and malware.
  • Emailing, mailing, faxing or transferring personal health information to the wrong recipient.

Unfortunately, many violations are simply caused by poor judgment on the part of office staff. This is why training is important for protecting the reputation and integrity of a medical office. Effective HIPPA coaching requires a mix of technology coaching and reinforcement regarding “best practices” for privacy.

How to Create an Effective Compliance Program at a Doctor’s Office

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is very specific when it comes to the elements that need to be included in a HIPAA training program. The agency highlights seven core principles that should guide any training initiative. Here’s a look:

  1. Implementing written policies, procedures and standards of conduct.
  2. Designating a compliance officer and compliance committee.
  3. Conducting effective training and education.
  4. Developing effective lines of communication.
  5. Conducting internal monitoring and auditing.
  6. Enforcing standards through well-publicized disciplinary guidelines.
  7. Responding promptly to detected offenses and undertaking corrective action.

The HHS also stresses the importance of making compliance a priority now. A big part of coming into full compliance is knowing your office’s fraud and abuse risks. This is where a full audit comes into the picture.

Why Medical Offices Need HIPAA Coaching

It often takes an outside eye to achieve HIPAA compliance and HIPAA coaching. When you bring in a compliance coach, you’ll be empowered to conduct a self-audit, identify deficiencies and correct deficiencies. Correction can come in the form of a comprehensive plan for gap remediation, training and policy templates that’s supported by cloud-based, automated reporting, tracking, and attestation tools. Your office will be left in a position of being equipped to detail compliance for auditors, associates, and covered entities. Contact us for more details and HIPAA coaching.

The Physicians Lifeguard