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Bill Sweeney, CTO, IOD Inc.


Direct messaging enables secure, swift and streamlined communication When fax machines were cutting-edge technology decades ago, they off ered many time- and cost-saving benefi ts over mailing health information or sending it via courier. Until recent years, it has been the preferred route for exchanging health information between providers. Although technology advancements have improved faxing to some extent, it still presents many security and workfl ow challenges tied to practice management. Whether someone dials a wrong number or unauthorized individuals obtain faxes, security breaches are common; there is simply no way to ensure faxed documents remain with the intended parties. Furthermore, faxed content is often created by the sender print- ing from the EHR, and then the recipient of the fax scans it back into the EHR. T ese additional manual steps signifi cantly aff ect the workfl ow and increase costs on the practice. With the evolution of EHRs, the direct messaging protocol will rapidly begin replacing fax technology because it off ers greater security, real-time message delivery, enhanced patient engagement and other workfl ow effi ciencies. Direct messaging enabled within an EHR allows providers to send encrypted documents electronically to certifi ed indi- viduals, including patients or other providers. T is eliminates the expense of mail or courier, and minimizes the security breaches that plague both faxing and mailing. Additionally, direct messages are automatically tracked and logged by the EHR, improving auditing ability. More than just a protected email platform, direct messaging can help streamline PM and assist organizations attesting to MU by enabling electronic – and reportable – communication among providers, organizations and patients. A secure resource for information exchange, direct messaging allows healthcare organizations to reallocate valuable resources, improve work- fl ow and streamline communication processes.


Keith Grone, product manager, Navicure


Balance long-term vision with short-term management strategies Successfully managing a physician practice requires a keen ability to juggle competing priorities. Practice administrators and reimbursement managers, in particular, must weigh day- to-day needs against long-term goals. Implementing an EHR, preparing for ICD-10 and getting today’s claims out the door, for example, are all equally important tasks.


www.healthmgttech.com


T e key to developing an eff ective practice-management strategy is to continually plan for the future as you monitor daily indicators. For instance, in my years as a reimbursement manager, I spent time every day tracking charges entered and payments received. I checked to see if hospital charges were en- tered within 24 to 48 hours, whether offi ce charges were timely and whether denials were worked within 48 hours. With technology, practice managers can quickly track these kinds of daily metrics and use the data to analyze trends and identify opportunities for improvement. T at’s where the long view meets the daily routine. Although my short-term goal was simply to ensure we were paid, my long-term objective was to develop processes that would result in faster, more accurate and more effi cient reimbursement. Our goal was to keep in mind the larger eff ects of not being paid – each day that we weren’t paid could weaken our revenue cycle. T ose dollars might be earmarked for EHR implementation or ICD-10 training, for example. It’s easy to get stuck in day-to-day operations. Using straight-


forward data, practice managers can measure both where they stand today and how close they are to reaching their long-term goals.


Michael Brozino, CEO, simplifyMD


Easing fi nancial and practice operations During medical school and residency, physicians learned


how to diagnose and treat patients, not become accountants, coders and offi ce managers. Nevertheless, every successful prac- tice requires attention to the fi nancial side of medicine – some- thing everyone in a practice must understand to some degree. While the goal of EHRs is to allow physicians to monitor


and analyze their patients’ health outcomes, PM systems should allow them to monitor the fi nancial health of their practice. More so, fl exible, cloud-based PM systems can make it easier for physicians to visualize their practice’s revenue and expenses. At a glance, physicians can assess collections, claims success rate, accounts receivable trends, copays and other indicators on dashboards. On the operational side, verifying eligibility and benefi ts, scheduling appointments, and coding and submitting accurate claims should be intuitive and streamlined on these systems. If data from PM systems can seamlessly integrate with a


practice’s EHR data, it will eliminate data entry time for clini- cians and allow offi ce staff to promptly code and bill claims. T is translates to cleaner claims, higher acceptance rates and faster cash fl ow for the practice. Practices should demand PM systems that will automate


and streamline the time-consuming fi nancial and operational tasks necessary for everyday operation, regardless of specialty. T ese systems should also minimize the complexity of practice business operations and allow physicians more time to focus on their patients.


HMT HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY October 2013 11


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