The pMD Blog

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pMD Blog...

where we cover interesting and relevant news, insights, events, and more related to the health care industry and pMD. Most importantly, this blog is a fun, engaging way to learn about developments in an ever-changing field that is heavily influenced by technology.


 

As the world around us changes, it’s interesting to think about what actions feel more or less accepted. For example, imagine now walking into a meeting, shaking each person’s hand, then immediately grabbing a pastry with that same hand and then eating it. Right now, that feels shocking, repulsive, and risky. But, back in December of last year, I might have done this without even batting an eyelash. 

It’s exciting to think about what changes are happening right now in health care that was once perceived as outlandish. One of the most obvious examples I’ve experienced is the implementation and adoption of rendering remote health care services - or telehealth. 

pMD began building our telehealth capabilities into our Free Secure Messaging, Clinical Communication, and Charge Capture products over a year ago. Since March, with the advent of the global pandemic, pMD has now helped thousands of patients complete remote visits over their mobile devices from the safety of their homes. 

If you haven’t given telehealth a try yet, let me give you an idea of what it’s like to be one of the patients who has used pMD’s telehealth platform: 

After scheduling your first telehealth appointment with your practice, you receive a text message reminder a few days before your appointment with a link to download pMD’s application. Once downloaded, all you need to do now is wait until your appointment - it’s truly that easy! Your provider initiates the video call, which will ring through to your phone just as any other call would except that the video will be conducted through pMD’s encrypted, HIPAA-compliant app, so your patient information remains completely safe. 

After completing your call with your provider, you’ll be able to securely send photos of incisions, wounds, rashes, or even receive lab results via pMD. Any picture you take in pMD is not saved onto your phone's camera roll, keeping your information private! 

So, why use pMD instead of one of the other video solutions that have emerged in response to the need for remote health care? Beyond pMD’s 21 years in the mobile health care space, below are a few additional reasons:

Quality

Video quality is really important when completing telehealth visits and pMD is extremely committed to great quality and reliability in our app. Crisp video quality is required in many cases to make sure your provider is able to accurately assess the medical situation. pMD was built to be used on a mobile device which generally has a much better camera than older computers, as well as the ability to choose between wifi or cellular data usage - whichever allows for a better connection. 

Ease of connection

Many other telehealth platforms require both the patient and provider to log into a portal at the same time to complete a remote visit. We know that might not always be the easiest, or the most private option, especially if your computer happens to be in a communal spot in your home. Because pMD communication is conducted within our HIPAA-compliant application, your information is secure and a video call rings right through to your phone via pMD’s app, so you don’t have to be logged into pMD to wait for a call. 

Ease of use

pMD’s app only requires a one-time download from either the Google Play store or the App store. Once you download the app, you’ll be able to log into pMD with your cell phone number and biometric scanning (think fingerprint scanning or FaceID) or a password. Once you’re logged in, your secure communication abilities are endless! Gone are the days of having to wait for one-use verification links each time you log in or constantly being rerouted in order to connect with your health care provider.

Exceptional workflow features

If you’re a practice using pMD, you can have pMD automatically enroll your patients on pMD® Secure Messaging™, as well as remind them of their upcoming appointment a day or two ahead. After patients are invited, anyone in the practice can initiate a video call via pMD’s secure website or app to complete a telehealth appointment. Once the call is completed, both parties will receive an automated call receipt that includes the call duration. You’ll then be able to continue communicating via chat, voice call, or video call moving forward, if necessary. 

As a patient, once you’ve downloaded the app, you are set to receive voice calls, video calls, file attachments, chats, and voice memos from your practice! Need to reschedule your appointment or send a picture of a medication that needs to be refilled? Don’t dial a number from a menu only to wait on hold for several minutes. Submit your question to the practice via pMD! You also have the ability to refer back to a message instead of trying to remember what the voice on the other line said about your pre-appointment instructions.  

So how do you feel about the future of health care? Is this a change that will stay for the long run? pMD thinks so! We believe there is great value in keeping communication easy, convenient, and secure for practices and their patients. Please let us know if we can help get your practice set up on pMD’s telehealth platform.

 

To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.


Here's The Latest in Health Care:


Can patients be as satisfied with virtual interactions as they are with in-person encounters? According to a new Press Ganey survey of more than 30,000 respondents, that answer is yes. The rapid adoption of telehealth has in fact enabled caregivers to meet the needs of patients with the same levels of attentiveness, expertise, and empathy provided during an in-office visit. Patients have been overwhelmingly positive about their virtual interactions with their care providers, even when technical issues posed challenges. Read More

Psychologists say anxiety and uncertainty prompt irrational decisions — like turning down a transplant when an organ becomes available. In a world seeded with anxiety, fear is gripping not just people who are ill with the coronavirus but those in urgent need of other medical care. Even as the number of COVID-19 cases declines in many places, patients with cancer, heart disease, and strokes, among others, are delaying or forgoing critical procedures that could keep them alive.  Read More

The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on hospital finances in the last couple of months, with organizations reporting volume declines of up to 99 percent for some revenue-driving procedures. Nearly two-thirds of surveyed hospital executives expect full-year revenues will decline by at least 15 percent due to the outbreak. Given the financial pressures on provider organizations, almost 30 percent of surveyed executives said the outbreak has increased the likelihood that their organization pursues a merger or a new partnership. Read More

As physicians around the country are working to get their practices up and running again many are thinking about measures to keep patients and employees safe. Building upon the CMS phase one guide for reopening healthcare facilities, the AMA developed a comprehensive checklist for providers to follow to ensure medical practices are ready for reopening.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software.


Here's The Latest in Health Care:


This week CMS releases Medicare payment rates for COVID-19 test CPT Codes. The AMA introduced three new CPT codes, 87635, 86769, and 86328, which can be used by healthcare providers and laboratories to bill payers for testing patients for SARS-CoV2.  Medicare will pay $51.31, $42.13, and $45.23, respectively for the codes.  Read More

Telehealth is more in demand than ever during the coronavirus crisis, and a new report from Frost & Sullivan suggests its uptake will increase by 64.3 percent nationwide this year, given the disruptions of COVID-19. Researchers predict that the pandemic will continue to reshape care delivery – and open big opportunities for virtual care in the near-term future.  Read More

More than 70 percent of consumers have already delayed or plan to put off health procedures due to COVID-19, according to a new survey. The survey underscores the issues providers face in convincing consumers to return for in-person care that has been delayed due to the pandemic. While the majority of consumers may be nervous about seeing a doctor, nearly half of the respondents reported feeling very comfortable picking up a prescription at their local pharmacy.  Read More

When commercial payers and providers come to the negotiating table this year, they will do so during a pandemic. The unprecedented financial and public health challenges payers and providers face will, in turn, affect the types of agreements they strike. Jackie Selby, a member of the national law firm Epstein Becker Green, outlines five trends that may affect payer-provider contract negotiations given the COVID-19 pandemic, including shoring up lost revenue for providers.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software.

I am certainly not the first or even hundred-and-first person to write about how COVID-19 has changed my working life, but I do hope to offer a unique or at least an interesting perspective on what it’s like to directly support and interact with patients, many of whom are participating in telehealth for the very first time.

pMD’s user base grew by nearly 300% from March 1 to May 1 of this year, due in large part to the highly increased demand for telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic. The vast majority of these tens of thousands of new users are patients. Medical practices are enrolling their patients in pMD by the hundreds and thousands, easily providing an avenue for patients to receive care even when it’s not safe or possible to come to their doctor’s office in person.

I am proud to be part of a team providing patient care tools during such a critical time, even though that means working harder than ever. We have quickly learned that a rapidly-expanding user base does come with some challenges, one of which is an increased volume of customer support.

Unparalleled, 24/7/365 customer service has been an integral part of pMD’s company culture since day one, and that has not changed even - or especially - during these unprecedented times. Being able to provide exceptional, real-time support to medical practices and patients ensures that health care is not interrupted despite the current situation.

The past two months at pMD have been even more fast-paced than usual, and our team has had the opportunity to speak with many patients and medical professionals alike. Here are the most important things we’ve learned: 

Be empathetic. 

This truly is an unprecedented time for everyone. Medical practices are extremely busy, oftentimes trying to handle a distributed workforce and safety concerns in addition to patient care. Patients, whether they have an acute condition or need a routine follow up, are often anxious or overwhelmed, both at the prospect of having to go into a doctor’s office or the alternative (a virtual visit), which can be a daunting prospect for first-time telehealth users. When someone calls into pMD to get support, we aren’t just helping them log into an app on their phone, we’re also there to reassure them that they have all the tools needed to connect with their doctor and get the care they are expecting. Whether a user calls in initially feeling anxious, frustrated, or confused, after speaking with a member of the pMD team, our goal is to not only answer their question but to leave that user with a smile on their face.

Be meticulous (a.k.a. if you don’t log it, it didn’t happen). 

Our engineering team is hard at work continuing to improve the telehealth experience for practices and their patients. An accurate and complete list of the most frequently asked questions and common concerns is key in prioritizing these projects. If 100 users reach out with the same question about starting a video visit, we know addressing that concern will help at least 100 users right away! If 100 users call in with the same question, but only 10 of those conversations get logged, we have no way of knowing this is such a high-priority topic, and it likely won’t be addressed with the same expediency. 

Be grateful. 

Even at the end of my longest or most difficult days at pMD, I can finish up work feeling thankful. Not only is the pMD team lucky to be hard at work during this time, but we’re also able to serve as a partner to medical practices and a resource to their patients. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time in quarantine!

To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.


Here's The Latest in Health Care:


For years, revenue cycle executives have talked about modernization, but in many health care organizations, a lack of time, money, or will—or all three—have stood in the way of moving forward. Projects once on the back burner, such as having a remote workforce, paperless patient communications, and electronic signatures, have now been pushed into the spotlight and implemented faster out of necessity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   Read More

Telehealth has become a go-to for health care providers and patients as they navigate the logistical and practical challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. For many health care organizations, the utilization figures have been staggering, going from a few virtual visits per week to several hundred per day in many cases. Overall, the general consensus when it comes to telehealth during the pandemic has been very positive, which will likely keep telehealth in the spotlight well after the pandemic is over.  Read More

• While you may be concerned about how patients are feeling when it comes to returning to your office during the coronavirus pandemic, it is easy to forget what your staff is going through as well. They most likely feel a driving need to help while at the same time are quite nervous about staying safe themselves. When reopening your practice it is important to remember that your staff may feel uneasy once they come back and realize the office they imagined will not be the same.  Read More

• As hospitals and physician practices struggle to make up lost revenue due to canceled visits and procedures a new survey found that a majority of consumers are expected to spend less on healthcare visits or prescription drugs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers with complex chronic illness and those in healthy families were more likely than other groups to say they would adjust their spending on health care visits or medications.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software.

COVID-19 has spurred an unprecedented uptick in the demand for telemedicine. As of March 17, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that clinicians may even deliver telemedicine via technologies that do not comply with the requirements of the HIPAA rules. This temporary relaxation of regulations has allowed many new players to enter the game of telehealth. However, not all telehealth platforms are created equal. pMD’s HIPAA-compliant communication platform stands out as the telehealth MVP. What does it take to be an MVP? In the NBA, it requires that a player be on a winning team, have unprecedented stats on both ends of the floor, and consistently impact the game in all facets. These standards can also be used to gauge the stand-out performance of telehealth with pMD. 


Winning team

To win the MVP in basketball, individual excellence is not enough. Only one player in NBA history has ever won the MVP while playing for a team that did not make the playoffs. To add the most value, the MVP must do the most for his team. At pMD, we understand that our team performance is crucial to the success of our telehealth platform. 

pMD has again been named the #1 Best Place to Work in the Bay Area and received the #1 Workplace Wellness Award for the second consecutive year by the San Francisco Business Times. We also have thousands of customer reviews on our website gushing about the quality of pMD. To quote one of them, “pMD is the best software ever! I’ve been using pMD since 2013 for inpatient rounds and internal communication. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, our practice had to make a decision quickly to be able to support our patients at this time. Thank goodness for pMD because they responded quickly and helped our practice implement customized patient communication and telehealth. I do not know what we would do without them.” Across all of our product offerings, we aim to win.

Unprecedented stats

Every player who has averaged over 30 points per game on a 65-win team has won the NBA MVP. An individual’s stats can be crucial to MVP determination because they prove that a player is valuable, beyond the ‘eye test’ of what he looks like in the game. pMD certainly measures up.

pMD has enabled more than 80,000 patients to connect with their clinicians since the outbreak of COVID-19. In addition, over 75% of patients who are invited to use pMD by their practice have successfully downloaded the pMD app. That seems like the equivalent of a telehealth triple-double to me. 

Excellence on both ends of the floor

Rather than excelling at offense and defense, pMD succeeds in helping both patients and their providers. At pMD, we provide practices with the tools to seamlessly integrate telehealth visits into their existing workflows. We find this to be critical to our success because it has been named as a key priority by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to avoid fragmenting care and potentially impacting patient safety. 

Providers on pMD can coordinate care for a patient by communicating with everyone involved in the patient’s care all on the same application. This includes the patient themselves, support staff, referring providers, or specialists. We go beyond providing just a video chat platform. On pMD, providers can further connect with their patients via appointment reminders, follow-up chat routers, and secure voice calls. pMD telehealth is definitely a two-way player. 

Consistency

More so than in basketball, consistency in health care is critical to success. Telehealth with pMD works on all iOS and Android mobile devices to deliver consistent, high-quality video. 

At pMD, customer support is our #1 priority. If a provider or a patient has a question, they can call us 24/7 and always speak to a full-time employee. We also provide unlimited usage, no cutoff times or upgrades are required. Our consistency helps practices to establish long-term workflows that can extend beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that habits that practices form now will grow into preferences and default behaviors and that most patients won’t want to return to a pre-COVID-19, less-convenient form of health care. The pMD telehealth platform, which was created in 2018, provides the dependability that is crucial to a most valuable player. 

The results are in! Telehealth on pMD stacks up well with its winning team record, unprecedented stats, excellence on both ends of the health care space, and unparalleled consistency. pMD’s HIPAA-compliant communication platform, which offers secure chat and video and voice calling really stands out as the Most Valuable Player in Telehealth.


To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.

Source: HealthLeaders

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) are offering up some guidance for how providers should code and bill COVID-19 care delivered in alternate inpatient settings such as parking lots and convention centers. New diagnosis and billing codes have been introduced to capture these activities and ensure proper payment, but clinicians and insurers are struggling to keep up with seemingly constant changes in how they are expected to bill and adjudicate claims.  Read More

The American Hospital Association projects that the nation's hospitals will see $202.6 billion in losses through the end of June due to the coronavirus pandemic. America's hospitals and health systems have stepped up in heroic and unprecedented ways to meet the challenges caused by COVID-19. However, the fight against this virus has created the greatest financial crisis in history for hospitals and health systems.  Read More

The COVID-19 crisis has taken a significant financial toll on practices. But where can private practices that are or think they will soon be in a financial bind because of the COVID-19 crisis turn for help? For starters, many practices are asking banks to extend their lines of credit, which have become much more flexible. Other options include tapping into the CARES Act or an SBA loan.  Read More

Telehealth is no longer just a nice-to-have, but instead a must-have for patients and health care professionals during these uncertain times. While we all wish that it hadn’t taken a pandemic to propel telehealth forward, for better or for worse, it has. Telehealth was already experiencing significant momentum and growth prior to this public health emergency and it has become quite clear the ever-evolving power of telehealth will be one of those solutions that become part of our new normal.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software.


Like many around the country and the world, everyone at pMD is currently practicing social distancing by staying at home for all non-essential activities. While at home, the nature of our business has given us the ability to continue to support health care providers in caring for many of their patients. Tens of thousands of patients are now relying on pMD to stay connected with their doctors via our telehealth platform. As we all continue to go through this transition in our professional lives, I have begun to reflect on the importance of company culture in the new home office.

The challenges and opportunities of distributed work are nothing new to pMD. For many years, we’ve had colleagues working from all over the country. Yet overnight, like many other companies, we’ve had to transition to a 100% distributed setup. As an engineer based out of the San Francisco office, I was one of those whose daily pMD rhythm changed significantly. Yet for the most part, it’s been a smoother transition than I expected, owing to the fact that we were already using many of the collaboration tools with our colleagues who were already remote. I simply had to use them a lot more. 

There is a perennial debate, however, that digital collaboration tools can never replace in-person interactions. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been wondering how true this is in my own work, and if there are other variables that determine if a team succeeds or fails in a distributed environment.

Anyone who works remotely has faced communication challenges that aren’t present when they are face-to-face. No matter how perfect your technological tools are, there are interactions and information that cannot be captured by text, images, video etc. That’s simply the nature of compressing three-dimensional information into something smaller. This creates a gap, and in some cases a chasm, between intention and perception especially when attempting to communicate complex or subtle information. Yet from discussing this with friends in varying work situations, it still seems that this gap affects some organizations more than others. During this period I’ve become convinced that building a successful distributed team cannot be accomplished by only using more technology. A critical piece that can bridge the communication gap is as simple as it is difficult to implement.

Trust can fill in the gaps where communication fails whether that’s between two people sitting next to each other or across the country. It has the ability to self-correct for errors introduced during transmission. A misperceived gesture or tone in an electronic medium is less likely to derail the actual intention when it’s contextualized in a larger relationship. In the ideal scenario, trust reduces the demand for what information even needs to be communicated since the parties trust they are already aligned along many dimensions. 

Building trust in an organization is never easy but is a core piece of the team’s culture. Companies that can find and retain people that share core values and are given a worthwhile mission to rally around will succeed when face-to-face communication is less frequent. This is why it's so important for organizations that are shifting to remote work to continue to invest in their culture and the mission of the company in order to thrive during transitions like what we are all currently experiencing. Trust has been a core part of pMD’s culture and a natural result of our focus on mentorship and has allowed us to continue delivering solutions for our customers during this period. As we all navigate this period together, remembering to continue to invest in your team’s culture can be the ultimate deciding factor in success.


To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.


Here's The Latest in Health Care:


This week CMS issued another round of sweeping regulatory waivers and rule changes to deliver expanded care during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as making it easier for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to get tested for COVID-19 and continued expansion for access to telehealth services. Changes to telehealth include waiving limitations on the types of clinical practitioners that can bill for telehealth services, broadening the scope of audio-only visits, and more.  Read More

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to dramatically affect health practices across the country, it is important for practices to take a step back and ensure their internal processes and administrative workflows are prepared for the coming weeks and months. By reviewing and planning at a fundamental level, practices will be better prepared to address any challenges that COVID-19 presents. A few tips include optimizing administrative processes, expanding telehealth utilization, and readjust revenue and cash flow forecasts.  Read More

The American Medical Association (AMA) has published new guidelines to help physicians provide care during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Seventeen separate documents have been shared so far, with more to follow, as questions continue to emerge. Example guidelines include issues such as “graduating early to join the physician workforce,” “prescribing medications responsibly in a pandemic,” and “access and health equity during a pandemic.”  Read More

Earlier this week CMS said it would no longer expedite Medicare payments to doctors and be more stringent about accelerating the payments to hospitals as well. The agency is not accepting any new applications for the loans from Part B suppliers, including doctors, non-physician practitioners, and durable medical equipment suppliers. CMS will continue to process pending and new requests from Part A providers, including hospitals, but be stricter with application approvals.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software.


It’s 8:00 AM, my phone is ringing, and I’m at serious risk of burning my 3-year-old’s pancakes. I’ve always been accustomed to providing phenomenal customer support, but now my most demanding customers are the toddlers sitting in front of me, awaiting their breakfast. I flip the pancake, pick up the phone, and tag in my husband. Another workday in our shelter-in-place world begins.

Business as usual while working from home

I’d like to start off by saying, I feel incredibly lucky that I am able to continue working from home, while others are facing employment difficulties or are putting themselves at a higher risk for exposure while clocking in. At pMD, we have been fortunate to offer services such as telemedicine, secure communication, and the ability for billers to access charges remotely, which has put us in the unique position of maintaining and growing our business. It is an honor to know that so many practices we work with are putting trust in our solutions to maintain exceptional standards of care for their patients, and this is a partnership we take seriously. 

What are we doing to support our practices during COVID-19?

Providing unparalleled customer support, to start. pMD offers 24/7/365 customer support. When you call pMD, you are going to talk to an actual pMD employee (and possibly their 3-year-old), someone who can answer your questions in real-time. And yes, that includes nights, weekends, holidays, and everything in between.

Hands-on remote implementations for all pMD product lines are happening every day. Although COVID-19 has put many businesses on pause, we realize that our health care workers are on the front lines and are more important than ever. We are here to support our practices from the first introductory call to post-implementation and beyond.

Implementing and evolving our telehealth platform is something that has become increasingly important in the past couple of months. We realize most medical visits are now happening over a screen, and we want to ensure that our providers are still able to provide exceptional care to their patients. We are working with our practices, and their patients, to ensure a smooth transition to telehealth during these trying times and also making changes to our platform based on the feedback we receive.

Here at pMD, our workspaces may have changed, and my coworkers may oftentimes be more immersed in the world of Sesame Street than telemedicine, but we continue to stay focused on the same things we have always strived for as a company: unparalleled support, innovation, and partnership. In this way, our practices can focus on what matters most to them: providing the best patient care possible.


To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.