9 Hidden Costs to Look Out for When Choosing an EMR Software

When choosing an EHR software, you’ll need to look out for a few hidden costs as well. To estimate an accurate ROI, you’ll need to factorize the direct EHR costs of implementation such as licensing and hardware and indirect (or hidden) costs as well. Hidden cost of EMR software usually include employee training, customized changes in the EHR, assistance in implementation, and more. In this article, we’ll be going over some of the high hidden costs of implementing an EMR software you may face.

The top hidden costs of implementing an EMR software include:

These hidden costs may differ based on the EHR you’re implementing. There are a few EHR service providers that minimize hidden costs for physicians.

Patient Portal

A patient portal is one of the most helpful EHR software features that enables you to connect with patients seamlessly. However, a patient portal’s setup costs can go up to $450 with a monthly fee of up to $100. Some EHR service providers have started offering a patient portal as a part of an EHR software and removing the need for additional charges. These include CureMD EMR, AdvancedMD EHR, Athenahealth EMR, to name a few.

Customized Changes

When you install a new EHR system, you might need to tweak and adjust the solution to fit your environment. Practices often require more than the essential services of an EHR. So you would need to customize your EHR software inevitably. However, you can reduce the cost of personalized changes by selecting an EHR service provider that offers extensive user configurations.

Add-Ons & Upgrades

To benefit from the best services that your EHR vendor has to offer, you would need to upgrade your EHR now and then. However, upgrading your EHR software is a costly endeavor. With the new changes in E/M coding coming from Jan 1st, 2021, you might need to upgrade to the latest EHR version. To better facilitate the changes, you might also need to implement add-on services. With add-on services, you might need to pay an additional amount every month.

Temporary Productivity Loss

You might be wondering, why would you experience a temporary productivity loss if an EHR software is supposed to improve productivity? When you implement EHR software, it takes a certain amount of time for your staff to get used to the new system and use all the features required efficiently. So there’s a small learning curve that you’ll have to experience after implementing an EHR software that temporarily reduces productivity.

Some EHR software help minimize this effect by providing an easy-to-use interface and training manuals/tutorials.

Migrating Data and Conversions

EHR software help practitioners view patient information, check lab results, review prescriptions, etc., with ease. However, when you implement EHR software, migrating your patient information from your previous system to the new system can be costly. Multiple factors come into play here that affect how easily you can migrate your data. These include the capabilities of your database, the option to import data within your EHR, etc.

According to an estimate, data migration costs can go as high as $30,000 to $40,000, depending upon the practice’s size, complexity, and nature.

Read: 7 things to know before migrating your data from an old EHR

Implementation Assistance

While most EMR companies cover implementation costs in their setup fees, you will have to pay extra if you are looking for onsite implementation or training assistance. It can be an expensive endeavor as apart from paying for their services, you are often asked to cover their transportation cost, which can be significant.  

For more details, check out our guide on implementing EHR for small practices.

Employee Training

Your staff will need training for the new EHR system. It includes your nursing staff, physicians, office, and administration staff. Although most EMR companies offer 20 hrs of training for free, any additional training hours will come at a cost. Most EHR service providers follow the standard rate of $1,000 per day for further training. You can avoid this cost by using online prerecorded training modules provided by your vendor or having a master trainer trained in your practice who can teach others.

Maintenance

In addition to the implementation and purchasing costs, you might also need to pay a certain amount of maintenance fee annually. However, there are recent trends that indicate a decreasing rate of maintenance cost. Most EHR service providers choose not to charge any annual maintenance fees to improve their client relations.

Security Features

Compliance with HIPAA and HITECH guidelines reduces the chances of a data breach, but they don’t wholly ensure data safety. To maximize your security, you’ll need to implement security protocols and features.

Read: 6 Must-Have cybersecurity Features in your EHR.

Final Words – Steer Clear from Hidden Costs

Whether you implement an EMR for regulatory purposes or to increase your practice’s operational efficiency, there are costs both upfront and hidden that you must be aware of before choosing a vendor. It is ideal to have a conversation about these costs with your prospective EMR software companies from the get-go to avoid any unpleasant surprises in the future. You will enter into long-term contracts with these companies, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

E&M Coding Changes Coming in Jan 2021. Is Your EMR Ready?

If you’re tired of counting bullet points to assign an E/M code to an outpatient, I have some good news for you.

According to the new guidelines by the American Medical Association (AMA), Evaluation and Management (E/M) coding is going to be much simpler than before. As of now, all changes are for outpatient codes. However, changes in other E&M Coding are expected to follow. With such a drastic change in E/M coding, you should also question if your medical software providers like EHR software are ready for the change.

Starting Jan. 1, 2021, practitioners will select their E/M codes based on their total time spent in care for the patient or the medical decision making (MDM) involved in patient care, whichever is most beneficial. Also, Medicare reimbursements will modestly increase for each level.

If you think these are only minor changes and wouldn’t affect your medical practice, you couldn’t be more wrong. The reason is without accurate Coding for outpatients, and you could have increased denied claims, reduced reimbursements, and so on.

In this blog, we’ll be discussing the following:

Before we move on to the changes in E&M coding, let’s talk about why these changes were necessary in the first place.

Was There a Need For change?

The 2021 E&M coding changes were designed with help from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to:

  • Reduce the burden of administrative tasks on physicians
  • Change payments for E&M codes
  • Streamline documentation requirements

CMS’s initial proposal was to break down office visit E/M levels 2-5 to a single payment. While it would have provided a modest increase for level 2 and 3 E/M codes, they would have cut reimbursement for the top-level codes by more than 50%. There was concern that these changes would adversely affect physicians caring for complex patients across medical specialties. Naturally, this proposal faced rejection from the physician communities.

After that, the AMA worked with stakeholders and came up with a proposal that would decrease physician documentation requirements while also continuing to differentiate payment based on care complexity. Resultantly, with these changes, there will be modest payment increases for most office E/M codes beginning Jan. 1, 2021, which may benefit those who manage patients with complex conditions.

What Are the Fundamental Changes in 2021 E/M Coding?

Although there are numerous changes made to the E/M codes, there are a few that stand out. Here are some of the more prominent ones:

  •       Deleting level 1 new patient visit (99201)
  •       Prolonged services (15 minutes) can be reported under 99215 and 99205.
  •       No time reference in code 99211
  •       Established new codes 99212-99215

 You can read up on all of the changes made on the official AMA website.

Also, you might need to reorganize your medical practice to fit the requirements of 2021 E/M changes.

Code-level to be determined by medical decision making or time. Elimination of history and physical exam as elements in code selection

Though performing a physical exam and recording patient history are clinically necessary and contribute to medical decision-making and time, these elements will not factor into code selection. Instead, the code level will now be determined solely by medical decision making or time.

Choosing Between medical decision making (MDM) and Total Time in the E/M Documentations

The MDM still includes only three components: the complexity of the problem, risk, and data. However, extensive edits have been made to the way these elements are defined and tallied.  

Redefinition of the concept of time meaning minimum time, not the typical time or “face-to-face” time. Minimum time represents the total time a physician/qualified health professional will spend on the date of service. With this change, physicians will now be reimbursed for non-face-to-face services such as care coordination essential for patient care.

Tweaks in the selection criteria for MDM

One of the significant changes made in the criteria for MDM is specificity. Terms that were vague and possibly confusing have been replaced with specific terms and phrases. For instance, the word ‘mild’ was replaced with ‘acute or chronic”. Secondly, previously undefined terms, such as “Independent Historian’ were also defined and specified.

CMS also plans to add a new Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) on Jan. 1, 2021, which can assess any additional costs that may occur when dealing with complex patients.

Are 2021 E/M Coding Changes for Everyone?

Any changes in the 2021 E/M office/outpatient CPT codes for either new or existing patients apply to Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare Advantage Plans, and commercial bodies. However, E/M of HCPCS codes are only applicable to Medicare, Medicaid, and Medicare Advantage Plans. Commercial payers are not required to accept HCPCS codes.

What Can You Do to Prepare for 2021 E/M Coding?

So there you have it, all of the changes that will be made by 2021 E&M Coding. However, you might be thinking, “How do I plan for these changes?” Here’s a list of precautions you can take to ensure you stay ahead of the curve.

Reach out to your EHR vendor: Talk with your EHR vendor about their plans for incorporating the changes. Mainly about how the EHR’s code calculator inculcates time and MDM. Would the EHR software be able to differentiate between the changed codes and others?

Reach out to your medical billing partner: You may also reach out to your medical billing service provider to determine what they’re doing to facilitate the changes. Likely, some service providers would still prefer their selection criteria to be based on physical and history.

Make sure your staff understands medical necessity: Even if you choose the total time in E/M coding documentation, make sure the time reported is realistic. Chances are, if a doctor reports 60 minutes for a patient with a concussion, they won’t be able to justify it.

Take a glance at your current documentation: Does your current documentation support total time as a measure in MDM? How aligned are you with the AMA’s new guidelines?

Conclusion – Are You Ready for E/M Coding Changes?

Numerous E/M codes for outpatients have been re-aligned to help remove some of the burdens on physicians. It also helps streamline lengthy documentation to help clear up your time. Although these changes can seem scary initially, the change should be better once you get the hang of it. You have time to plan, prep, educate, and implement effectively, but as time is winding down, you better put pen to paper soon!

The Best Medical Billing Services for Small Practices

A medical billing company does more than submit claims on your behalf. It makes sure that the submitted claims and its corresponding documentation are complete. Follows up with patients and insurances for any outstanding payment and ensures that your practice financials are updated so that you can focus on doing your job, i.e., taking care of your patients.

Considering how much is at stake, finding medical billing service provider that you can rely on is crucial. The good news is that you have options to choose from:

  1. You can either select your EHR vendor; most provide revenue cycle management services in addition to EMR software.
  2. You can outsource to a third-party medical billing company that is ideally a local one.

 Both options have their pros and cons:

If you want to learn more about choosing between your EHR company and a local medical billing service provider, read our article on Choosing a Medical Billing Company for small practices.

However, if you have decided not to opt for a medical billing provider near you and instead invest in one of the big guns, continue reading. We’ve compiled a list of the best medical billing companies based on user rankings.

AdvancedMD Medical Billing Software

AdvancedMD is one of the industry’s top players that focus on small and large practices, making it affordable yet scalable. It offers a wide range of services, including an EHR/EMR module, Practice Management (PM) module, telemedicine software, and RCM.

With AdvancedMD Medical billing service, you get their top-ranked EMR and PM for free.

AdvancedMD

Here’s are some of the pros and cons of AdvancedMD Medical Billing:

Pros:

  • Has a 95% pass rate on the first claim
  • Assists with denied claims
  • Checks insurance claims for mistakes before sending them out

Cons:

  • Mobile App is only available for iOS devices
  • Doesn’t code insurance claims on its own
  • Charges extra for after-hours customer support

AdvancedMD offers an extensive suite of features and benefits to its users. Some of their top features include:

  • Appointment scheduling software
  • Patient portal
  • Optimized mobile app for iOS devices
  • Claims management
  • Centralized billing
  • ClearingHouse

AthenaCollector Medical Billing Software

Founded in 1997, AthenaCollector is one of the many healthcare IT modules offered by Athenahealth. Rather than developing a single software for each type of service, Athenahealth has created multiple modules that act effectively alone and as one.

The biggest convenience AthenaCollector provides by automating your billing service yet maintaining in-house control over it. AthenaCollector offers 93% first-pass insurance claims.

Here are some of AthenaCollector’s pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Very easy to use navigation and interface.
  • Robust reporting & analytics features
  • Offers claims management

Cons:

  • A low first-pass insurance claim rate
  • Charges a small fee for denied claims
  • May become complicated for single practices
  • Doesn’t code your insurance claims

AthenaCollector does not code your insurance claims itself, but it does scrub for coding errors with a rules engine and human reviewers. After your codes have been verified and corrected (if needed), they are sent off to the insurance companies.

Some of AthenaCollector’s top features include:

  • Claims management using a rules engine
  • Patient check-in process
  • Automated performance reports
  • Dashboard optimized for revenue cycle
  • Appointment scheduling management

Kareo Medical Billing Software

Kareo medical billing enables practitioners to spend more time with their patients through their all-in-one solution. It includes medical billing, integrated healthcare IT systems, and managed services. Kareo’s objective is to help practitioners treat their patients instead of routine administrative tasks. Referring to itself as the “Only complete technology platform,” Kareo is designed for single practices.

While Kareo offered medical billing services itself in the past, it now has parter vendors that provide this service to Kareo Clients. Here are some pros and cons based on Kareo’s reviews.

Pros:

  • Offers a PM solution
  • Assigns a Success Coach when you sign up
  • Affordable pricing

Cons:

  • Kareo EMR and PM also come as a packaged deal
  • Doesn’t provide claims follow-up in their basic pricing plan
  • Managed billing needs to be purchased separately

With medical billing, EHR/EMR, and practice management combined into one software, you get a few advantages. These include:

  • Appointment scheduling with automated reminders
  • 70+ standard reports available
  • Efficient claims processing
  • Claim tracking

CareCloud Medical Billing Software

CareCloud medical billing is yet another solid choice for your practice. With CareCloud, you can choose how much of your operations you would like to outsource. You can choose to integrate their EHR and PM software with their medical billing software or use third-party ones.

CareCloud

In essence, you can hand-pick the services you want for your practice. CareCloud also has an astonishing first-pass insurance claim rate of 97%, one of the highest in the industry.

CareCloud’s pros and cons are listed below.

Pros:

  • Offers a user-friendly interface
  • Completely customizable billing services
  • Offers consulting services as a plus point

Cons:

  • High cost of implementation
  • Only available on iOS devices

Some of the top features of CareCloud include:

  • Free access to MIPS training
  • Reduces coding errors by using CollectiveIQ
  • Real-time claim management
  • Helps generate patient statements
  • Centralized PM software

BillingDocs Medical Billing Software

If you are looking for good value for money yet comprehensive billing service for your practice, BillingDocs is a good option. As the company solely focuses on providing RCM services, they can provide excellent service and support to their clients. BillingDocs offers credentialing, accounts, receivables management, and medical billing services. As a practitioner, you have the option to  choose which of the services you want to implement

BillingDocs is an all-in-one medical billing platform that focuses on boosting productivity, reduce denied claims, and help you manage your payments faster.

Check out their webinar about credentialing for new medical practices.

The pros and cons of BillingDocs are as follows.

Pros:

  • Compliant with Medicaid and Medicare
  • Reduces billing and coding errors
  • Streamlines cash flow

Cons:

  • Has no EMR or PM of its own

Some of the top features of BillingDocs includes:

  • Reviewing and resolving denied claims
  • Electronic Remittance
  • Posting insurance claims and patient payments
  • Detailed and in-depth insurance claim follow-up
  • Free billing audit
  • Patient insurance verification
  • Assistance with coding

Also Read:  Cost Comparison of Top Medical Billing Companies

Which One's the Right Choice?

At the end of the day, when you’re deciding on a medical billing service, it’s essential to keep your practice’s needs at top priority. Once you have figured that out, you can begin your journey of reviewing some of the vendors out there.
If you need a little help or advice for finding the right billing service, fill out the form at the top of this page

5 Alternatives to eClinicalWorks EMR

eClinicalWorks is one of the best integrated Electronic Health Records (EHR) and practice management solutions. In addition to features like telehealth, healthcare analytics, customizable reminders, and custom messaging campaigns, eClinicalWorks also offers a virtual assistant named Eva. If you’re looking for alternates to such an extensive EHR and PM solution, you’d need EHR solutions of equal strength. Here I’ll go over five alternatives of eClinicalWorks and why they would be ideal for your medical practice.

These include:

Athenahealth EHR Software

Athenahealth EHR offers a complete suite of services that you might need for your medical practice. It’s a cloud and server-based EHR built to help medium and large scale healthcare institutes. Their services include EHR, PM, telehealth software, care coordination, medical billing, revenue cycle management, and patient engagement. 

Athenahealth EHR software was built with the vision of streamlining and simplifying documentation, clinical workflows, and administrative tasks. Their various modules and services enable them to do this with ease. Practitioners don’t have to update files and keep multiple file cabinets. Instead, they can upload all of the information on the cloud. They can also update records in minutes and save time and money.

Some of the unique benefits that Athenahealth EHR offers over others are:

  • Medical billing is close to being flawless, with an average error rate of less than 1%.
  • One of the most robust reporting modules in the industry
  • Athenahealth also offers integration options with multiple 3rd party applications.

Overall, Athenahealth stands with an average rating of 8. Similarly, in ease of access, value for money, and support, it stands at 8.5, 8, and 7.2, respectively.

NextGen Healthcare EHR Software

If you’re a small or a medium scale medical practice, NextGen Healthcare EMR is ideal for you. With its cloud and on-premise EHR modules, you can make your practice run efficiently while taking care of your patients. Practitioners can also customize the dashboard to show what they want to see first, like problems, workflows, allergies, etc.

One of the unique features that NextGen Healthcare EHR provides is workflow management. This feature shows practitioners of the clinical workflow, current appointments, and upcoming appointments as well. The clinical workflow includes patient information like health records, medical history, lab reports, diagnoses, etc. 

Some of the features that set apart NextGen Healthcare EHR from the rest are:

  • Their customer support is one of the best in the industry.
  • They follow a highly customer-centric approach, and their platform is designed by keeping in mind the needs of a clinician.
  • They also have a robust data analytics solution.  

NextGen was also awarded “The best EHR software for small and medium practices.” By Business News Daily.

Practice Fusion EHR Software

Practice Fusion EHR is a web-based that offers an extensive suite of integrated features like lab integrations, e-prescribing, charting, patient scheduling, etc. It’s an ideal EHR and medical practice management solution for small-scale medical practices. Practice Fusion EHR was built to help medical practices go paperless by streamlining their clinical and non-clinical tasks. As long as you have access to an internet connection, you can view patient information, check medical billing and manage claims, etc. 

You can also sign up for free training videos by Practice Fusion if you face any problem. Furthermore, Practice Fusion dedicates a support team to any medical practice that implements their EHR. So you’ll never run into any delays when reaching out to customer support.

Some of Practice Fusion’s EHR unique benefits include:

  • Low monthly costs and no hidden charges make it an ideal EHR solution for small scale practices.
  • Their services also include a free patient portal.

Learn more about implementing EMR software for small practices in our guide.

Alternative to eClinicalWorks

AdvancedMD EHR Software

AdvancedMD EHR is a web and cloud-based EMR and PM software that helps automate clinical workflows and streamlines patient information management. AdvancedMD focuses on keeping patient information up to date in real-time to ensure you can focus on your patients more effectively. 

AdvancedMD EHR also offers a wide range of add-on services like telehealth, e-faxing, and integrations with iOS that enables you to focus more on your patients and not worry about administrative tasks. The objective of AdvancedMD is to help your practice improve the quality of its clinical workflows, be more efficient, and cut any extra costs that may arise.

Here are some of the unique benefits that AdvancedMD EHR offers:

  • It offers a smart dashboard to enable practitioners to view and navigate easily.
  • AdvancedMD includes one of the best telemedicine solutions in the industry.
  • It also includes a client referral bonus program.

DrChrono EHR Software

DrChrono EHR is a software that combines EMR, PM, revenue cycle management, and medical billing to provide high quality product and services to medical practices. DrChrono EHR is designed for medical practices to enable simplified and streamlined workflows and to create an effective patient management process.

Although it’s not been in the market for long, DrChrono has attracted physicians from all over the US. The reason is scalability and flexibility. DrChrono offers extensive scalability capabilities and is flexibles enough to help medical practices grow.

Some of the unique benefits that you get from DrChrono are:

  • If you’re looking for a template, you can also check out the templates that other users have made and edit them.
  • DrChrono offers complete customizations of their software.

Which One Should You Choose?

When you’re looking for alternatives to eClinicalWorks EHR, make sure to check out Athenahealth, NextGen Healthcare, Practice Fusion, AdvancedMD, last but not least, DrChrono. If you’re looking to implement any of these EHRs, the first thing to consider when choosing an EHR software is your practice’s needs. Whichever EHR can fit those needs is the ideal choice for your medical practice. Once you figure out your needs and which EHR software can cater to them, the choice is easy. 

Trump vs. Biden on Healthcare: Comparing Two Perspectives

Trump-vs-biden

President Donald Trump and democrat Joe Biden have distinctively opposing views when it comes to healthcare in the United States. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare has become the top priority for US citizens. Both candidates have unique strategies that focus on solving the problem of providing inexpensive and accessible for all healthcare.

29% of Americans consider healthcare even more important than the economy in this pandemic. COVID-19 has left no choice for US citizens but to focus on their safety and healthcare. However, catering to these rising concerns of Americans is not an easy task. Here I’ll guide you to the different perspectives of both the candidate on how they believe they can tackle these concerns.

The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act helps Americans by making health insurance affordable for the public, emphasising preventive care strategies, and implementing new processes and technologies for improved healthcare. It includes creating accountable care organisations, implementing technology such as  Electronic Health Records (EHR), funding healthcare training etc.

Here are the views of both the candidates towards the Affordable Care Act

Trump

Trump has been against the ACA for almost four years and has continuously tried to undermine it. However, it is yet to be decided, whether the Supreme Court would overturn this law on Nov 10. If it’s overturned, the President, along with the Congress, would have to deal with millions of Americans becoming uninsured.

Moreover, Trump does not support ‘Medicare for All’; neither does he support any optional public health plan. In his words, he claims these plans follow “Socialism.

Biden

Biden has stated that he would defend the Affordable Care Act from any legal or congressional problems. He also said that he plans to “build on” the Affordable Care Act by expanding subsidiaries on the exchanges of the act.

Although Biden also does not support ‘Medicare for All’, he is open to accept an optional public health plan based on the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges.

Medicaid and Medicare

Medicare and Medicaid together provide healthcare and insurance coverage to almost 115 million people in the US. Medicare aims to help citizens 65 or above, pay their medical expenses. In comparison, Medicaid aims to help low-income groups with healthcare facilities and costs.

Here are the views of both candidates when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid.

Trump

Trump promotes the use of private insurance companies through the Medicare program. It would create problems for people who do not have private insurance. However, Trump has included telehealth in Medicare coverage and increased Medicare advantages. It creates ease for both practitioners and patients by enabling virtual patient visits. Under this change, healthcare providers can offer virtual care through telemedicine software and expect pay parity.

Under his vision, Trump has also stated that new immigrants would not receive Medicare and Medicaid benefits unless or until they can prove they have health insurance. Moreover, he created a ‘Public Charge’ rule. According to this rule, there would be a restricted entry for people to use Medicare or any other public program. However, this rule faces legal challenges right now.

Biden

Biden follows a more open-minded approach when it comes to Medicare. He proposes to lower the minimum age of people who can benefit from Medicare from 65 to 60. He also offered to make the vision, dental, hearing healthcare standard in Medicare. After all, it’s quite natural for the elderly to develop dental problems and hearing or vision loss.

Biden also proposes to offer more federal support to Medicare during the pandemic to help the people. He has also stated that it is his goal to provide healthcare services to at least 97% of the American population.

One of the significant changes Biden would make for the immigrants would be to reverse the ‘Public Charge’. Instead, he would allow any illegal immigrant to buy unsubsidised plans.

Healthcare and Medicine Costs

In healthcare and medicine costs, both candidates have similar objectives. Trump and Biden both want to put an end to surprise billing and lower drug costs. However, they differ in their approach to reduce drug prices.

Here are the views of both candidates when it comes to healthcare and medicine costs.

Trump

Trump’s strategy for reducing drug costs is by importing prescription drugs from other countries. As per experts, this could be effective in the short-run, but it is not a sustainable solution for the long run.

When it comes to surprise billing, it is something Trump wants to ban completely. Although Trump had previously tried to ban surprise billing in Congress in December, it didn’t go as planned. Also, he has put pressure on ensuring price transparency in healthcare institutes. His policy aims to pressurise hospitals and insurance companies to disclose hospital expenses to the patient. That may seem like a small step, but it could have long-term benefits.

Biden

Biden believes in supporting a bill passed last year that would enable him to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, instead of importing from other countries. He would also ensure that any new drug prices don’t increase more than the inflation rate to keep drug prices affordable.

Similar to Trump’s beliefs, Biden also supports a complete ban on surprise billing. To rein in hospital prices, Biden plans to open new public option programs to talk and negotiate fixed prices with healthcare institutes.

In conclusion, both candidates have pretty diverse policy statements on the model for providing healthcare to Americans. While Trump would repeal the Affordable Care Act in favour of more private sector involvement, Biden wants to build on the existing structure. However, both agree that the pricing of life-saving drugs and surprise billing is a huge problem that will need to be catered to if America wants to improve its healthcare system. Whatever position you support, you must go out and vote!

What’s the Latest News in the World of EHR Softwares

Are you looking for your fix of daily Health IT News? Here is what went down over the last few weeks in US Health IT.

  • Allscripts sues CarePortMD
  • Lyft Joins Hands with Epic for patient ride scheduling
  • Athenahealth to Hire 100 more employees over the coming months
  • Strategies EHR Vendors use to stay stress-free amid the pandemic

Allscripts vs. CarePortMD.

Who knew the EMR market could get this fierce, right?  According to news sources, Allscripts has sued CarePortMD for using the brand name “CarePortMD” which they claimed is the same as one of their software offerings. 

Allscripts believes that this would confuse potential clients and customers as both companies operate in the same healthcare IT space. On the other hand, CarePortMD maintains that they have followed all guidelines put forth by the US office of Patent and Trademark against which they were issued a lawful trademark on the name. 

 In the lawsuit, Allscripts has:

  • Asked for an injunction against CarePortMD to stop it from using the CarePortMD name. 
  • Transfer of the registered name to Allscripts 
  • Asked for the compensation caused by the alleged infringement. 

Lyft Joining Hands with Epic

In another news, Lyft announced that they are integrating with Epic‘s Electronic Medical Records (EMR) software in an attempt to deepen its ties with healthcare providers. It will allow medical practitioners and hospital staff to schedule rides for their patients quickly. Epic is one of the largest electronic health record (EHR) companies in the telemedicine industry, and Lyft is the first ride-sharing company to integrate with them.

The primary aim was to enable hospital staff to schedule a ride for their patients directly from the Epic EMR application rather than shifting into a separate tool. For this purpose, Lyft is working now with Epic to create the integration successfully.

The ability to arrange a Lyft ride at the time of discharge will eventually lead to shorter waiting times, improved patient throughput, and less crowd in the waiting rooms. Apart from this, the patients can easily travel to the appointment and back home without any hassle or application needed. It will also allow the hospital staff to monitor appointment adherence and no-show rates of patients.

As a part of their integration program, Lyft is also enabling healthcare systems to generate reports to measure the impact of ride-sharing features on the overall health system in terms of their spending and population health outcomes. It will also include tracking patient segments to identify those that benefit from a Lyft ride. It also reduces the keyboard time and effort for our staff members and speeds up the process for ordering a Lyft ride.

Athenahealth to Hire 100 More Employees

While many companies around the world have let go of employees due to financial constraints brought about by the pandemic, athenahealth recently announced that it would be adding 100 new employees over the coming year to its Belfast, Maine-based office. This expansion comes as a result of rapid growth and demand for athena EMR and medical billing services. New hires will be trained remotely and continue working from home as will all existing employees for the foreseeable future.

Strategies EHR Vendors Stay Stress-Free Amid Pandemic

This pandemic has been stressful for all of us worldwide. For EHR vendors, this stress causes new pressures to provide prompt and quality service to healthcare organizations without compromising the safety of their employees. 

Luckily, most EHR companies knew what to do and when. Here are the top strategies that they implemented.

  • Timely, relevant and effective communication with various departments/teams reduces stress and anxiety and enables employees to talk about their problems.
  • They connected with their employees by talking to them casually to create a connection, instead of having formal meetings to discuss problems.
  • The HR would frequently reach out to new staff to see if they require any assistance or even to talk to them to increase morale.
  • Some EHR vendors even started new traditions within the company that focus on virtual meetings. Meditech EHR launched a water cooler service where any member of the company could come forth and talk about any topic with a virtual gathering. It enabled Meditech to create a new tradition where employees could also socially connect.
  • They would offer their esteemed employees care packages to help increase the morale and spirit of their teams.

The importance these EHR vendors give to their employees is because it’s the collection of all the people in the company that make the company. So to make sure, your practice receives the best of healthcare services, EHR vendors have spent countless hours ensuring employee satisfaction. EHR vendors that have followed in these strategies have also shown profitable growth even in times like these.

5 Security Misconceptions about Cloud-Based EHRs

5 security misconceptions

The advent of cloud technology has not only spoken of the marvels of human development; it has also created a few misconceptions about security as well. By definition, ‘Cloud Technology’ refers to the system of ‘Digital Cloud’ where you can store your data and files online with the use of applications. The myths surrounding cloud technology are common in the world of cloud-based EHR as well. It is one of the common factors why many healthcare organizations are hesitant to adopt it.

In this article, we’ll clear up your top 5 security concerns and misunderstandings about cloud-based EHR systems. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Myth #1 Cloud-based EHR has Security Issues

For years, there has been a common myth that whatever you place on the internet, it means it’s in the hands of anyone on Earth. However, we need to understand that cloud-technology is a little different than simply ‘putting stuff on the internet’.

With the evolution of technology, cloud-based EHR systems have evolved into a more advanced and comprehensive solution. Even though the entire concept is only a few decades old, cloud-technology is now the future of any successful business.

Cloud-based EHR systems are, in fact, a very secure method for storing sensitive patient data, files, and documents. The EHR software providers use advanced security tools, such as data encryption, to protect their customer data against potential data breaches.

Myth #2 Data saved on Cloud-Based EHR Software is vulnerable to Malware and Viruses

One of the most common misbeliefs about cloud-based EHR is that it makes the data vulnerable to Malware and Viruses. With millions of malware files and viruses lurking in the corners of the internet, this no surprise people have security concerns about cloud-based EHR systems. The critical thing to understand is that these types of viruses and malware only attack end-computing devices or files. It means the data saved on your cloud-based EHR system is entirely safe from such attacks.

To protect their customer data, EHR software providers hire professional hackers to maintain the health of their system from potential viruses or malware. Furthermore, every good quality cloud-based EHR has a security department where they are continually trying to improve their service. They do this by making sure no one is trying to access their customer data and continuously upgrading their system with the latest technology.

Furthermore, multiple-layer security processes, such as client logging aggregations, firewalls, and intrusion detection alerts, also helps to defend customer data from malicious attacks.

Myth #3 It is One-Size-Fits-All-Solution

Every business comes with its own set of requirements and problems. It means the cloud-based EHR that worked for your friend’s company might not give the same results for you. For this reason, cloud-based EHR systems offer different options for different organizations based on their needs, size, and specialty. It will also depend on what type or level of support you want for your business. If you already have an in-house IT department, you might not need to go all out on the security packages. However, for most of the businesses in the healthcare industry, you need that extra layer of security for optimum data protection.

Myth #4 Cloud-based EHR Systems do not offer Multi-Level Authentication

If you are using a manual health record for your patients, it is very easy for someone to potentially access, view, copy, or even destroy protected health information. However, with a cloud-based EHR system, you can easily track down any suspicious activity that tries to access patient files.

With login tracking features, you can immediately spot and stop the source of data breaches. However, with paper records, it is tough to spot illegal access to confidential data. With cloud-based EHR systems, you can immediately flag inappropriate behavior and deal with it accordingly.

A good quality cloud-based EHR system will designate users according to the different levels of access based on their roles within the organization. Assigning a tiered level of duty-specific security clearance to your employees will reduce the chances of data breaches.

This type of role-based security hinders your staff from unwittingly accessing and changing information that doesn’t fall under their precinct. It adds a layer of security to an already protected system.

Although the thought of keeping your information in a far-off warehouse is not exactly a calming idea, however, the truth is that your data will never be safe anywhere else. These types of EHR systems provide their customers with different sizes of practice the comfort of cloud-based security advantages associated with data accessibility and costs.

Myth #5 Cloud-based EHR gives no Other Benefit than Lower Cost

Apart from the general benefits of EHR systems in healthcare businesses, Cloud-based EHR services give more than just the benefit of lower cost. It gives you the convenience to store your data in one place without any hassle or worry. It helps to streamline your entire processes and increase efficiency and productivity. In the end, you are technically paying for a service that will boost your business positively and securely for an extended period.

What’s the Final Take?

With so many misconceptions and misunderstandings surrounding cloud technology, the majority of healthcare businesses are hesitant to adopt cloud-based EHR systems. The majority of these concerns revolve around the fact that cloud-based EHR is not secure. With cloud technology merely a few decades old, business owners have trust issues whether their data is safe or not. They believe that the files stored on cloud-based EHR systems are prone to malicious and virus attacks.

However, EHR companies undertake multi-level authentication and security protocols to protect their client data from potential data breaches and malware. With cloud-based EHR, the solution is not one-size-fits-all. For this purpose, it offers additional security services to meet the different requirements of different organizations.

We hope we cleared all of the misconceptions you have about cloud-based EHR security system. In today’s time, implementing EHR solutions in the medical industry is an immediate need for the present. So, push all your doubts and disbeliefs about Cloud-based EHR software, and start thinking about it for your business!

Related reading:

5 security infographic

Using Telepsychiatry to meet Mental Health Challenges during COVID-19

Mental Health

Telepsychiatry has seen growth under COVID-19. Will this growth sustain beyond the pandemic? In this article, we discuss:

  • Telepsychiatry- Challenges & Barriers
  • Best practices for implementation
  • Top behavioural health telemedicine vendors
  • Will telepsychiatry survive?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought numerous catastrophes both at the individual and collective level. People have suffered from the loss of loved ones, job losses, economic recession and diminished face to face interaction with friends and family. Such circumstances would take a toll on anybody, but the impact is higher for someone with a mental illness.

In such an environment having access to mental health services becomes crucial. Thanks to Telepsychiatry, many physicians and therapists were able to continue providing care to their patients throughout the pandemic. However, the transition has not been easy for most practitioners. Confusion around deployment rules and reimbursements for televisits are some of the leading reasons a lot of mental health practitioners continue to stay away from Telepsychiatry.

Telepsychiatry – Challenges and Barriers

Sudden changes in our routine often disrupt our behaviors. One of the most significant changes for mental health practitioners was the introduction of telehealth software for behavioural health. Here are some of the barriers that practitioners face while trying to make it work:

Comfort

When mental health practitioners have to move from in-person appointments to online meetings, the change can be disturbing. Although some medical professionals are relatively comfortable talking through a screen, some are not. Particularly the elderly who are not well equipped with technology and its usage. There are a lot of psychiatry EHR platforms that are simple to understand and are made specifically to cater to this bracket. 

Implementation

Implementing Telepsychiatry software for primary care physicians is yet another common problem. Even today, no federal state has declared that practitioners are to be given the same reimbursement with Telepsychiatry as with face-to-face meetings. Even before COVID-19, only five states had implemented laws to ensure that practitioners will receive the same or equivalent amount with Telehealth as compared to in-person meetings.

During COVID-19, 21 states decided to invest in Telepsychiatry software for psychiatrists. However, only 13 of those states were able to establish parity laws successfully. However, that still leaves out a lot of states who are not yet ready for the change.

Another deterrent to telehealth implementation is the cost involved. Telepsychiatry software cost around  $300. However, providers have the option of low-cost telehealth software ( $35 to $50) albeit with lesser functionality.

Licensure laws

A health practitioner wishing to practice across state lines must be licensed in all those states.  All states have different licensing process and laws, which makes this process troublesome for most. Exceptions are available during the pandemic; however,  there is little clarity around them.

So far, 12 states offer special licenses to practitioners for Telepsychiatry across state lines. Also, six states have a special registration process for practitioners that enables them to practice across state lines.

Although not all, many states have started reimbursing practitioners for private payers and Medicaid.

Reimbursement (Medicaid)

  • Twenty-two states reimburse for online patient monitoring.
  • Fourteen states offer reimbursement for the store and forward.

Reimbursement (Private Payer)

  • Forty-one states manage and govern telehealth reimbursement policies in regards to private payers.
  • Six states have successfully implemented private payer parity laws.

Best Practices to implement Telepsychiatry software

Now that we’ve talked about some of the significant problems that COVID-19 had brought upon us when it comes to Telepsychiatry. It’s time to talk about how you can reach out to your patients online with a Telepsychiatry solution. Here are some of the best practices to keep in mind when implementing your Telepsychiatry solution.

Creating an Internal Implementation Committee: An internal implementation committee can help guide the integration process and seamlessly introduce Telepsychiatry to your practice while keeping costs low.

Maintaining Patient Experience: When implementing such a massive change to your organization, make sure you don’t start missing out on the patient experience. After all, the patients are the whole reason you’re implementing a Telepsychiatry EHR Solution.

Start Small: Instead of implementing the change in your whole practice at once, take it step by step. Introduce one service at a time and shift to it gradually.

Every Penny Counts: A Telepsychiatric solution can be as simple and as extensive as you want. However, make sure to include all of the costs of implementation such as warranty, subscriptions, add-ons, support. This will also help you determine an accurate ROI.

Choosing Your Telepsychiatry Solution

The right software for you will depend on the functionality you need as well as your budget. If you intend to  include Telepsychiatry as a long term service in your practice make sure you have the following:

  • The telepsychiatry EHR shoftware should be HIPAA compliant
  • The video and audio quality should be good
  • You should have a strong internet connection

Here are the top rated full-suite EHR products available in the market:

AthenaHealth EMR: Athenahealth EMR is suitable for medium to large scale practice where you want to save time and ensure your patients receive timely mental health. What makes AthenaHealth unique is that it’s fully embedded with all of the services you would need from patient scheduling to billing management. Also, they also offer group video meetings to help you and your caregiver team to talk extensively with your patient.

AdvancedMD EMR: AdvancedMD EMR, as the name suggests, is ideal for large-scale practices where you want to ensure medical diagnoses, patient support, and seamless online appointments with your mental health patients. To help your practice stand out from the rest, AdvancedMD offers you an appointment dashboard, one-click EHR scheduling system, as well as a separate patient portal. 

Drchrono EMR: Drchrono EMR was built keeping small to medium-scale practices in mind. This solution ensures a cost-effective approach to providing you with all the services you need to cater to your patient’s mental health. Drchrono is a bit more creative telehealth solution than the others. It offers patient portals, online scheduling, automated emails, and Kiosk mode. If you want to reduce your administrative burdens, then Drchrono is the ideal choice.

If you are looking for low cost options and would be willing to compromise on functionality check out low cost Telehealth Software.

 You can also check our telehealth software reviews and pricing

Conclusion - Going the Extra Mile

There is no telling how long COVID-19 might last. So to ensure your psychiatry practice stays afloat during the pandemic, you must shift to a Telepsychiatry solution.

If you’re looking for support in finding the right solution, contact us today at (661) 384 7070 for a complimentary session with one of our experts.

telepsychiatry infographic

What to Look for in Physical Therapy Software

Physical therapy software

As with any other medical practice, physical therapists also require a fully integrated specialty-specific EMR solution that offers functionality different from software programs geared towards primary care and related specialties. A suitable EHR framework helps the therapists to improve patient care and reduce traditional paper recording of patient data. An EMR system for these practices should help therapists to integrate and streamline all aspects of patient care. While there may be some features similar to the ones offered in primary care software, a physiotherapy EMR program must support robust documentation, billing, scheduling, treatment plans, compliance, and assessments for multiple patients being seen on a regular and recurring basis. 

Here’s what you should add in your list of considerations while looking for a better quality physical therapy software:

Simple, Robust, and Customizable Documentation

A physical therapy practice management software should allow for fast and simple note-taking, accelerating the entire physical therapy documentation process. This will enable therapists to focus on patients instead of note-taking. Look out for a system that allows you to create a tailor-fit documentation template and control your notes’ objective and subjective aspects. 

The EMR system should be flexible enough to let you narrate your clinical decision pathway. It must adapt to the workflow of your practice, not the other way around.

Faster Billing

As it is hard for medical practitioners to deal with the billing tasks, a physical therapy billing software should allow clinicians to perform quick billing and reduce the overall time to complete a task. Therapists should be able to bill the claims and follow up with the patients to increase referrals. A claim should be automatically scrubbed and submitted to the billing software for biller review. An ideal EMR system enables billers to push a button to edit and scrub the claim against millions of pre-programmed payer rules. With another click, the claims should be submitted to the insurance company electronically.

Consider a system that is built with the ‘end in mind,’ so you can run a profitable and streamlined practice.

Alert System

The billing system of a physical therapy EMR solution should have an automated alert system that notifies users to append the KX modifier if a patient exceeds the therapeutic gap. This prevents denials from payers who cite the reason “Maximum Benefits Reached.” Additionally, there should be alerts for upcoming reevaluations, progress notes, documents that need to be reviewed, physician clarification requests, and canceled appointments.

Look for a system that includes a whole package and not just supports a few basic features.

Better Quality Control

An EMR solution for physical therapy practices should help users manage their overall quality of services. It must enhance clinical productivity by supporting physical therapists in the diagnosis procedure. Ensure that the solution you opt for is secure and offers data integrity, so your records will not be misplaced, lost, or damaged.

Keep an eye on the solution that promises to offer data security. 

Automation of Tasks

A physical therapy software solution should be able to automate multiple tasks, such as documentation and prescription management, that otherwise are difficult to manage if manually done by the staff. The software should streamline all the processes and procedures of the practice so as to allow the staff to provide the optimal level of care to patients.

Remember, automation is the key.

Forwards ICD-10 Codes

A physiotherapy EMR solution should take forward ICD-10 codes from one visit to another. Most of the time, the diagnosis code remains consistent with physical therapy encounters. The billing system of your software should automatically extract the diagnosis codes from the previous visit and give complete control to the biller. It must also enable the biller to edit the diagnosis field before the claim is billed out in case changes are required in the codes for the current visit.

So, add ICD-10 notes in your consideration list.

Easy Scheduling Management

The EMR solutions for physical therapy practices store patient records digitally, making scheduling tasks easier to manage. It should enable healthcare experts to easily track and manage their patients without struggling with complex-to-navigate paper records. So make sure the it comes with physical therapy appointment scheduling software!

Consider an EMR that takes all your scheduling woes away.

Creation of Payer Specific Rules

The billing software for your practice should be customizable and flexible enough to let you set up checkpoints. It must allow clinicians to set up payer-specific rules to ensure clean claims submission and prevent denials. Medicare will accept G0283 instead of CPT 97014 for physical therapy practices.

Look for a system that sorts this for you.

Custom Physical Therapy Billing Reports

Physical therapists should be able to generate customized physical therapy reports that help them diagnose the overall functioning of their practice. If your physical therapy report billing software can generate customized billing reports, you can track your practice performance and determine important revenue cycle metrics.

Don’t forget to consider this aspect while selecting the EMR solution for your practice as this makes for a better quality physical therapy software.

We have listed the basic features that a physical therapist should look for when selecting an EMR system for their practice. It is also suggested they ask for demos before making an actual purchase so you can ensure you’re getting the best fast billing physical therapy software.

Physical therapy software infographic

Merit-Based Incentive Payment System Update During COVID-19

merit-based incentive payment

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released multiple updates to account for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System reporting. Information about the COVID-19 is kept fluid and regularly updated by the CMS. MIPS also recommends clinicians to check state and federal health department websites for regular instructions and updates.  So the details below can also serve as merit-based incentive payment system pros and cons.

Second-year performance results are out

We present you with five notes on MIPS payment adjustments and scores from the 2018 performance year which serve as merit-based incentive payment system quality measures:

  • A good percentage of clinicians in MIPS — 98 percent — avoided negative punishment adjustment in 2018. A year before, about 5 percent of clinicians received a negative payment adjustment.
  • Almost 84 percent of clinicians earned an “exceptional performance” position, which resulted in positive payment adjustments ranging from 0.2 percent to 1.68 percent.
  • Some clinicians — 13 percent — received payment adjustments of 0 percent to 0.2 percent.
  • About 356,000 clinicians participated in MIPS through Advanced Alternative Payment Models in 2018, a 15,000 clinician increase from the last year. 
  • About 84 percent of small practices and 97 percent of rural practices earned a positive adjustment in 2018, and almost 74 percent of small practices and 93 percent of rural practices received a positive payment adjustment in 2017.

CMS has introduced guidance for MIPS during COVID-19

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance documents on 2nd July, 2020. The documents provided information on the allowance of telehealth encounters for the Eligible Clinician and Eligible Professional electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) used in CMS quality reporting programs for the 2020 and 2021 performance periods. The guidance is directed towards eCQMs used in the including advanced alternative payment model:

  • Medicaid Promoting Interoperability Program for Eligible Professionals
  • Quality Payment Program: The Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Advanced Alternative Payment Models (Advanced APMs)
  • APM: Primary Care First (PCF)
  • APM: Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+)

A lot of clinicians were also wondering what is merit based incentive payment system and hopefully their confusion will be cleared by this information. The guidance documents released by the CMS show the telehealth-eligible eCQMs for their particular performance periods. There are 42 telehealth-eligible eCQMs for the year 2020 but only 39 for the 2021. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) explains that where an encounter can be included in an eCQM if it is identified with a telehealth-eligible code regardless of whether the encounter was provides via telehealth or in-person unless otherwise indicated by CMS in the eCWM definition statements or in the guidance. 

CMS also informs that there may be some instances when quality action can’t be executed during the telehealth encounter and states, “it is the eligible professionals’ and eligible clinicians’ responsibility to make sure they can meet all other aspects of the quality action within the measure specification, including other quality actions that cannot be completed by telehealth.”

Medicaid Promoting Interoperability Program for Eligible Professionals

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken multiple measures to promote interoperability programs for eligible professionals during COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know:

  • CMS allows medical professionals who have been rattled by the coronavirus pandemic to submit an Extreme & Uncontrollable Circumstances Application. If approved by the authorities, they will reconsider MIPS performance categories for 2020.
  • Clinicians must be able to show how their practice has been affected by the pandemic for payment adjustment based on the merit-based incentive payment system.
  • According to the American College of Cardiology’s summary of the rule changes, CMS will not be using data from the first six months of this year to calculate any of its quality metrics for 2020.  
  • Participating COVID-19 clinical trials can earn MIPS-eligible professionals 20 points as reminded by ACC. Members need 40 points to get the maximum score in the MIPS Improve Activities category.