This article appears in the December 2012 issue of Managed Contracting & Reimbursement Advisor Staff.
Encounter forms, charge tickets, note cards... when it comes to physician documentation of professional charge information for reimbursement, putting pen to paper (maybe even a napkin) is still a heavily relied upon approach. Despite software advances, high physician adoption of automated processes remains elusive for many practices, and it's costing them money.
Nearly every healthcare professional implicitly understands that eliminating paper from the care delivery process is the right thing to do, says Ryan Secan, MD, chief medical officer of MedAptus, a consulting and technology company based in Boston. And electronic medical records are becoming increasingly commonplace, streamlining clinical work flow. The problem is that the tools aren't often optimized to support a typical practice's variety of charge coding and reconciliation needs, Secan says. So for practices contending with paper at different stops along the revenue cycle continuum, the drag on efficiency is significant, affecting physicians, the business office, and ultimately the bottom line.
"As a practicing physician that firmly believes in embracing technology for helping to make treatment decisions, improve the quality of care, and expedite transactions with payers, I see firsthand how paper bogs my peers down," Secan says. "For many of the doctors I interact with, they have access to an electronic records system permitting entry of patient charge data when they are in the office, but once they leave and head to a hospital for rounds, an entirely different work flow emerges."