Ingenious Med sponsored a webinar with RevCycleIntelligence in late May in which two of our clients shared five ways they optimized financial efficiency during the pandemic. Our speakers were Robin G. DeShields, Professional Revenue Cycle Business Partner, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, and Debbie Wright, Director, Revenue Cycle Management, Community Health Systems. Highlights of their discussion are captured below.
2020 was a tough year for both healthcare systems and physician practices, and many of its operational and revenue challenges persisted through the first half of 2021. According to an MGMA survey, 82% of healthcare leaders say that some or all of their providers’ compensation has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. A Moody’s Investors Service survey found that 42% of non-profit and public health systems had operational losses in 2020 vs. 23% in 2019; and their forecast for 2021 financials remained negative. And a Medscape Physician Compensation Report found that 15% of surveyed physicians did not get a raise last year; and only 28% of PCPs and 32% of specialists who lost pay have seen it restored.
As growing vaccination rates and declining COVID cases create a brighter outlook for the second half of 2021, it’s a great time to reflect on lessons we can apply from the pandemic to future revenue cycle operations.
1. Efficient Mobile Charge Capture
The first step to a more efficient revenue cycle is ensuring that clinicians are accurately capturing charges at the point of care using mobile tools. Having a solution with automatic prompts and code filters to deliver specialty-specific, pre-populated charge information will speed the task. Wright noted that using the Ingenious Med® app has enabled their physicians to eliminate nearly all charge entry delays.
DeShields reported that her organization had a similar experience, eliminating paper delays and enabling providers to use their cell phone to capture charges for the services provided as they’re exiting from a patient room. “Long gone are the days of waiting for charge slips from the providers to be coded and manually entered into the billing system,” she explained. “Ingenious Med’s Master Coder function has enabled our physicians to maximize efficiency by entering the charges as they occur.”
Additionally, Wright noted that CHS was able to eliminate charge entry staff because charge data feeds from the Ingenious Med app into CHS’s billing system without manual entry. “Providers can easily find and enter their most frequently used CPT codes, and even physicians who don’t code at all can use this system,” she said. “Coders could then check the data within Ingenious Med to ensure the claim was ready before it went out the door.”
AtlantiCare now expects its providers to capture and submit their charges on the same day that services are delivered. DeShields said, “They can see at a glance how they’re doing utilizing the Charge Lag report, which holds them accountable. Senior leadership also uses the same Charge Lag report to manage resources and keep the team on point,” she commented.
Wright now runs daily Charge Lag reports to hold all physicians to the same standard and agreed with DeShields that these are powerful tools for improving revenue cycle efficiency, since no physician wants to be on the late list.
2. Automation eliminates paper and time
DeShields noted that the second step to efficient revenue cycle management is using automation to ensure that each provider has the right patients attributed to them. With the Ingenious Med app, assigned patients auto populate each physician’s list so they know which patients to see. The application is effective in appropriately assigning revenue to specific providers at specific locations for reporting purposes at month’s end.
Wright added, “Also, clinicians can scan the bar code on the patient’s arm band and automatically pull patient demographic, insurance, and other information. Automating those functions makes providers happy. They always worry that they may be missing a charge or submitting a duplicate charge. Ingenious Med provides an icon for missing bills so providers can quickly see if they’ve missed any charges.”
3. Analytics reports and dashboards deliver information at a glance
Being able to track key performance metrics on a daily, weekly or monthly basis has also proved invaluable for enhancing financial efficiency. DeShields noted that the Unsent Bills report plus the Bills Matrix report help them to manage physician workflows and reconcile bills every day to ensure that charges that should have been captured have not been missed. “It’s the key to efficient revenue capture,” she said. “And with the My Work RVUs report, physicians no longer spend hours looking through their own hand-written records.”
DeShields said that the ability to have both canned and customized reports is helpful. If a hospitalist is concerned that they aren’t getting credit for their RVUs, her administrators can quickly bring up their wRVU report to show them the exact data that they themselves have entered.
Wright appreciated having reports that were continually updated and consistent across the enterprise, so that CHS could compare performance from one state to another, or one provider to another. It also allowed them to compare current and prior volumes.
She found the dashboard’s bar graphs to be useful for physicians, who don’t have the time or interest to analyze reams of data. “Physicians like graphs and want to see their arrows going up,” she explained. “Busy practice managers also appreciate having engaging, colorful visuals to quickly pinpoint issues. And the data transparency builds trust in the system.”
4. Chat functionality streamlines communication
Streamlining communication between clinicians and among physicians and administrative staff is another way to save time and boost efficiency. Wright said that the chat function in Ingenious Med proved especially useful during COVID, when many billing staff were working remotely for the first time. “They could talk to each other or to physicians using the chat function or leave a message at any time of day or night,” she said. “Intensivists also found it useful to leave patient notes for the next physician during the handoff at the end of their shift.”
5. Telehealth reduces time for patients and clinicians
DeShields recalled that AtlantiCare’s usage of telemedicine skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which helped to maintain continuity of care in some areas and soften the impact of revenue lost when elective procedures were abruptly halted due to the health crisis.
“Telehealth enhanced our provider efficiency because they can see multiple patients via telehealth if they have a gap in their schedule,” Wright said. CHS also used telehealth to enable residents of a small town in Mississippi to continue receiving care even when both of its physicians became ill. “With telehealth, they could be seen the same day and get their prescriptions refilled. It didn’t matter how far away the physicians were.”
Of course, getting paid for those services is critical. Wright noted that the ability to integrate their practice management system, EHR and Ingenious Med systems enabled them to send out telemedicine reminders and enable the physician to enter their charges immediately after a patient visit.
To see and hear more about how Ingenious Med has helped to improve financial efficiency, please watch the full, on-demand webinar at RevCycleIntelligence.com.