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BILLING & CODING

Telehealth policy to change after the COVID-19 public health emergency

The COVID-19 public health emergency has been extended to Oct. 13. Of particular interest to medical practices is the continuation of telehealth flexibilities, which will expire at the end of the public health emergency. US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra officially renewed the declaration in mid-August. The emergency declaration has been in place since January 2020, and the latest renewal came as the Omicron offshoot BA.5, the most contagious variant yet, continues to stake its claim in the US. Daily case rates, though vastly undercounted, are the highest they’ve been in months, as are COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. Data published in August by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than half of the country’s population lives in a county with a… . . . read more.

COMMUNICATION

Interpreters improve patient care

Do you have interpreters on staff or on call for your medical practice? Interpreters are essential for medical care when language is a barrier. Consider the results of a study reported in this article from Boston Children’s Hospital:  By Veronica Giarla Sharing medical concerns with clinicians can be hard for anyone—a challenge that’s amplified in patients when English isn’t their first language. The results are troubling: One recent study by Boston Children’s pediatric hospitalist and researcher Alisa Khan, MD, MPH, found that patients and families who have limited English proficiency are three to five times less likely to speak up and ask questions of their care team. “There are many ways patients who don’t speak English experience health care differently from those who do,” she says. It’s a challenge that Esterlina… . . . read more.

PATIENT EXPERIENCE

14 good ways to cut your appointment wait times

Long patient wait times cause frustration for patients, stress for reception desk staff, loss of confidence in the practice—and, ultimately, loss of revenue. Here are 14 things you can do to reduce patient wait times, courtesy of Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, a team of specialists who partner with healthcare clients to profitably deliver results through data-driven marketing. 1. Offer digital check-in services that allow patients to submit medical forms before their appointment. 2. Offer hassle-free online appointment scheduling and rescheduling. 3. Integrate virtual care services like telehealth/telemedicine. 4. Stay on schedule by leveraging physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) for routine or non-urgent visits. 5. Develop better new patient lead workflows to improve efficiencies and productivity. 6. Conduct patient surveys. 7. Send patient appointment reminders to lower your risk of no-shows (which… . . . read more.

MARKETING

Take the sting out of bad reviews from patients

It is important to address every online review—good or bad—publicly so that others reading the review will know you are responsive to patient communication and concerns. Here are some simple steps to addressing a bad review, potentially resolving the patient’s complaint and showing possible future patients how you deal with patient concerns. Keep your cool As much as we want to think that we do the best we can for every patient, we do make mistakes, said Mary Pat Whaley, founder and president of Manage My Practice. “I spoke with a patient recently and told her the practice had failed to send her prescription in and she was dumbfounded,” she said. The patient was surprised and pleased the practice owned up to the error. Read it again “First blush reads… . . . read more.

MANAGING PATIENTS

Make your patients happier with these communication tips

By Mike Rigert Even though modern patients appreciate the ease and convenience of digital communication with your practice through automated text reminders and real-time communication, we can’t lose sight of the importance that personal interaction has in keeping those relationships strong. A HealthGrades study showed that patients’ communication with front office staff are primary factors in online reviews—both positive and negative. The research found that of nearly 7 million patient reviews, the most frequently used phrases in negative comments were related to front office staff interaction. In the busy and chaotic environment your front office staff operate in, it’s easy to forget that patients still expect human connections and quality customer service during a visit. This includes everything from how to greet a patient to individual personal connections that lets each and… . . . read more.

MOM WEBINAR

Learn about changes and updates to telehealth

There’s a lot you need to know about telehealth. That’s why Medical Office Manager is offering a webinar, Telehealth—What Managers Need to Know, on April 6. It’s free to Medical Office Manager members. Presenter Jen Bell of Karen Zupko and Associates will give you the tools and knowledge you need to comply with new telehealth regulations. Meanwhile here is Jen’s update on telehealth changes to early 2022. POS 10 Telehealth Provided in Patient’s Home Patient is located in their home (which is a location other than a hospital or other facility where the patient receives care in a private residence) when receiving health services or health related services through telecommunication technology. Home may be defined to include temporary lodging (hotels, homeless shelters) and patient travels of short distance from the exact… . . . read more.

TECHNOLOGY

3 tips for better patient education

The link between patient education and outcomes is clear: When patients understand their diagnosis and treatment plan, they’re more likely to become and remain healthy. In fact, health literacy—the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions—should be a top priority for medical practices seeking to move the needle on value-based care. This social determinant of health is a critical component of value-based care, and addressing it ultimately helps patients take better control over their own health. Why patient education is important Patient education is critical for many reasons, most importantly because it helps patients make informed decisions. This is one of the tenets of patient-centered medical care—to engage patients in the decision-making process. When patients understand their diagnosis and… . . . read more.

WORKING WITH PATIENTS

How to fix failing patient engagement initiatives

Patient engagement initiatives are a dime a dozen across healthcare organizations. From patient advisory groups and patient-centered portals to social media outlets and secure messaging, healthcare organizations understand that it’s important to get patients involved in their care. Studies prove that engaged patients result in better outcomes, lower costs, and a higher quality of life. But a survey indicates that while most healthcare organizations have patient engagement programs, nearly 50% felt they were only moderately or not at all mature. Perhaps many patient engagement programs fail because they neglect to connect with patients in a way that is meaningful to them. Sure, your practice is checking off the patient engagement boxes. But, are your patient engagement strategies actionable and relevant to the people you are dedicated to caring for? Traditional… . . . read more.

PATIENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

3 ways to hook up your patients with drug payment help

By Lisa Eramo One out of every eight patients with cardiovascular disease fails to take their medication due to cost barriers. The New York Times has even gone so far as to label nonadherence as an “out of control epidemic.” Unfortunately, job disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more difficult for patients to afford their medications. Drug copay cards can help patients afford medications that physicians determine are the best treatment options. Copay cards are tied to financial need and can help reduce the total out-of-pocket expenses for patients. These cards can also boost price transparency, helping patients better manage their finances. When patients use a copay card, their health insurance pays some of the cost while the drug manufacturer covers part or all of the… . . . read more.

SELLING THE PRACTICE

Due diligence in practice acquistions and physician employment

By John W. McDaniel Many hospitals and healthcare organizations are being approached by private practice physicians and physician groups seeking refuge from the unstable state of the healthcare economy and what lies ahead. While many healthcare organizations are employing physicians in order to solidify their market position, others (particularly in rural areas) find this method of physician recruitment most effective in terms of their overall medical staff development plans. Regardless of the reasons why hospitals and/or physicians are seeking to affiliate with one another, one of the most critical components to ensure that a successful transition occurs is performing a Due Diligence Analysis of prospective medical practices. Some of the most critical due diligence components which are a part of any medical practice acquisition are as follows: Rights to Payment… . . . read more.


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