Incoming telephone calls should be a good thing in a medical practice, right? Requests for appointments from new patients and established patients are the lifeblood of the practice. But for many practices, the phones are an overwhelming burden for everyone, from the receptionist and nurse to the provider with an inbox full of patient messages to sort through. In general, approximately 25% of incoming calls to a medical practice are repeat ...

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Much is being made of the meaningful use requirement to use secure online messaging to communicate with patients about relevant health information. The new Stage 2 measure requires that more than 5% of unique patients seen by the eligible professional during the reporting period were sent a secure message using the electronic messaging function of certified EHR technology. But to meet that goal, we have to get our patient population engaged ...

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The calendar says it's time to think about the holiday shopping season, and planning for ICD-10. Oct. 1, 2014 is the date for submitting ICD-10 diagnosis codes. What's your plan for the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10? The breadth of changes will have an impact your entire office. It's obvious that your billing staff and coding staff will need training, but have you considered your other staff -- those who schedule surgeries or ...

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Eligible physicians are dropping out of the HITECH incentive program. Why? Often, it's because a practice implements an EHR and then tries to mimic all their old paper processes and workflows. That can get them through the vendor's initial implementation, but it is not sustainable for the long term. Workflows and operational processes must be modified to optimize the new tool. Technology changes what is feasible, and to adapt, we need to ...

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Your front office staff are the face of your practice -- an expression of your practice's philosophy, attitude, and values. So it should be a top priority to hire and retain top-quality people to fill such roles as receptionists, phone operators, medical secretaries, and transcriptionists. But it can be a challenge to keep these people and keep their morale high because these positions often include high levels of stress for low ...

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What is the measure of successful technology adoption? Is it never having to hunt for a missing chart? Is it a reduction in specific operating cost line items? Is it about access to clinical information when you need it and where you need it? Technology implementation has a significant effect on profitability. The Medical Group Management Association Cost Survey Report beginning with 2010 data shows that total medical revenue after operating ...

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Why do you need a population health management (PHM) IT system? In our last column we discussed the fact that reimbursement tied to outcomes will demand a greater level of patient management. Greater, perhaps, than your EHR can deliver. The early focus of new pay-for-performance and bundled payment systems is on preventive care for top chronic illnesses. The 15 most expensive health conditions account for 44% of total ...

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Office-based medical practice is changing fast. The government is providing incentives to those practices that use electronic prescribing and electronic records systems and will soon penalize those that don't. Health reform will shortly deliver many newly insured patients to your office. A host of new patient care models aimed at making healthcare more team-based are emerging. Reimbursement tied to outcomes will demand a greater level of patient management and engagement ...

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Should physicians use a consultant to help choose a practice management system or EHR for their practice? According to recent Medical Group Management Association surveys more than 50% of physicians used the services of a healthcare consultant or firm at least once in the previous 3 years. But did they have to? Was it a smart move? The answer: It depends Not every practice needs a consultant's assistance when replacing and choosing ...

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You're using an EHR. You're e-prescribing. You've eliminated pulling the old paper chart (most of the time!). That's good. But how about those orders? Are you still writing on the bottom of your fee slip or encounter ticket that you want the patient to be scheduled for a test or with another physician? That's not good. Get the order in your EHR. Instead of taking the time to write on paper, keep your hand ...

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