Better Practice Efficiency Comes with Automation

Managed Contracting & Reimbursement Advisor Staff , November 12, 2012

Stop 3: The bank

For a practice that is realizing greater physician ­coding efficiency, better back-office staff productivity, and access to operational data insights, there is another ­winner in the charge capture technology equation: the revenue cycle. Medical groups are able to get coding and billing done more accurately and faster than ever-­ultimately increasing revenue, Secan says.

This improvement stems from eliminating missed charges, which for many groups come in the form of consults that are never scheduled and thus expected. Then there are physicians who learn that they underbill E/M levels or habitually miss a ­procedural component that reduces reimbursement. And when groups get charges in for payment quicker, the revenue cycle shortens.

"At practices I have interacted with around charge capture technology, as much as $15,000 per provider has been experienced thanks to reduced charge lag, well in line with consensus industry estimates," Secan says.

The clock is ticking

This is a critical time for medical groups to take a step back and evaluate their overall efficiency in administrative tasks related to coding and billing, Secan says. While the ICD-10 deadline was recently pushed out one year to 2014, many experts agree the government is unlikely to delay it any longer given the resources and expense that groups have already invested in preparations.

"It seems that hardly a day goes by without a consultant or industry group recommending how to approach implementing ICD-10," he says. "Advice tends to vary by group size or specialty, but one common theme is clear: come October 1, 2014, paper isn't going to cut it any longer. Beyond 8-point font, there is no way one sheet of paper could effectively provide all of the possible diagnosis codes a physician will need for charge capture in ICD-10."

Therefore, the time is ripe to evaluate a system capable of organizing and presenting these codes for both physicians and support staff in intelligent ways that can reduce the burden of ICD-10 adoption. Groups that adopt technology to provide ICD-10 code sets for practice (alongside the ICD-9 codes used for current billing) will benefit greatly from the additional physician training and education, Secan says.

Gain efficiency, boost your bottom line

Physician practices seeking to improve ­productivity have several options to investigate. While reducing patient load or hiring more staff would mitigate administrative overhead, these approaches also hurt financially, which is simply not feasible in this reimbursement environment.

"For a group relying on paper at any point along the professional revenue cycle, or a group with an electronic records system lacking robust coding and reconciliation functionality, charge capture technology is an easy-­to-implement-and-use offering that can quickly deliver widespread productivity enhancements from the point of care to the back office," Secan says.

This article appears in the December 2012 issue of Managed Contracting & Reimbursement Advisor Staff.

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