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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.

POSTS BY TAG | Communication

Increasing medical practice revenue


When your life depends on it, do you want the opinion of one specialist or the combined opinions of many? The ‘many’ option seems more appropriate.

IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME 


Second opinions are all about advocating for your own best health care options. According to one study, 66% of second opinions resulted in better-defined diagnoses and 21% resulted in completely different diagnoses. Having the ‘second opinion’ conversation early, before treatment begins can ensure the correct treatment plan, correct diagnosis, and avoid unnecessary costs as well as unnecessary tests and procedures. 

CAN I JUST START SEEING SOMEONE ELSE?


Typically, most providers and many insurance companies require or prefer a referral from your physician. The most efficient way to get an appointment in this century is to have your current provider make a referral on your behalf. Peer-to-peer referrals allow providers to quickly share the necessary details, as well as safely and securely transmit any of your diagnostic tests. In a perfect world, it’s a quick phone call and an electronic handshake, followed by a call to the patient from the central registration department to gather the required demographic and insurance info if your referral will be outside of your current health care system.  

WHY ONE PROVIDER CAN’T BE OUR EVERYTHING


There is this unspoken unreasonable expectation that we place on our providers. Why do we expect them to know everything and be everything to all of us? Providers, just like us, are a product of their environments, their education, and their social and professional networks. We impose an unnatural expectation on them that they are all-knowing and without flaw. Why can’t we shift our mindset and encourage them to connect and communicate better, without judgment? Remove the expectation that they must know all and replace it with an expectation that they will simply help each patient intelligently navigate finding the right answer, the best treatment, and the right provider. Patient outcomes improve when we create health care cultures that promote sharing and discussing differing perspectives, as well as cultures that are receptive to differing perspectives. It’s a two-way street. 

CAN WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?


What is our role as a health care technology vendors and communication facilitators? Shouldn’t our providers have a world of specialists at their fingertips? Is it too much to ask for a built-in network for providers to openly communicate and advise each other? It's not too much to ask for. Science and technology have taken us so far. We can photograph galaxies 13.4 billion light-years away, but we have yet to normalize private community chat rooms and instant messaging for health care providers. Perhaps the most impressive advance in health care technology is simply free and open communication amongst the provider community itself. 

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


The financial process health care facilities and groups use to submit claims to an insurance provider is known as your Revenue Cycle. This can begin well before a patient steps foot in the door and can continue past the final payment of a balance.

What is Revenue Cycle Management?


Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) refers to the process of identifying, collecting, and managing the practice’s revenue from payers based on the services provided. A successful RCM process is essential for a health care practice to maintain financial viability and continue to provide quality care for its patients.

The Revenue Cycle can look a little something like this:

1. Before a patient arrives for inpatient or outpatient procedures, collect any pre-registration information, such as insurance coverage.
2. Collect subsequent patient information during registration to establish a medical record number and meet various regulatory, financial, and clinical requirements.
3. Complete charge capture, which refers to rendering medical services into billable charges. This is what pMD has specialized in for over twenty years!
4. Have a coder review diagnoses and procedures.
5. Submit charges of any billable patient interactions to insurance companies.
6. Afterwards, the billing department can determine patient balances and collect payments.

This is a process where there are a lot of opportunities for hiccups and stalling. What if a patient’s demographic or insurance information was transcribed incorrectly, or a procedure is billed that doesn’t fit coding criteria? What happens when a claim is denied? How often is a patient left completely in the dark until the moment they get a massive bill in the mail? 

Here are some ways to mitigate potential hurdles and ensure that your RCM is benefiting your practice as well as your patients.

1. Maintain a clear line of HIPAA-compliant communication between different individuals in your Revenue Cycle. Ensure that if needed, it’s simple and efficient to verify the information required and receive updates as necessary.
2. Design a patient-oriented experience that prioritizes transparency. When you’re registering a patient, establish expectations with them, and keep them informed on what your staff is doing.
3. If your practice is verifying a patient’s insurance before a procedure, you can let them know if they need to pay a copay, or if they should expect to be billed a coinsurance. Confirming that their insurance will cover a high-cost operation will make it easier for your practice to collect payment, and put your patient’s mind at ease.
4. Provide relevant literature to patients who may require financial assistance. Ensure that they know their options regarding payment plans and if they can apply for charity or hardship.
5. Communicate clearly during the billing process, and ensure that a patient understands what responsibilities they have, whether they’re financial obligations or a need for documentation or additional paperwork.
6. Finally, you’ll want to make sure that your billing team has contact with the payers. Prompt, efficient follow-up is the best way to mitigate denied claims and decrease the turnaround time between submission and payment.

With these tools at your fingertips, you can ensure that your practice is run in a way that is both financially successful and compassionate to the needs of your patients.

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


Patient adherence within the medical community can mean different things to different providers depending on the specialty. For patients that require therapeutic drug monitoring, adherence to medication can mean the difference between wellness and illness. An estimated 30 to 50 percent of U.S adults are not adherent to long-term medications, so one can only imagine the difficulties that brings for both patients and providers. 

What is therapeutic drug monitoring?


In the simplest of terms, therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) is a form of testing that tells a provider the concentration of certain medications in a patient’s blood and what bodily systems it may be impacting. TDM is used in a variety of specialties to include, but is not limited to, cardiology, internal medicine, neurology, psychiatry, pulmonology, nephrology, rheumatology, gastroenterology, and many others. 

A patient is first deemed a good candidate for a medication requiring TDM based on several factors such as age, weight, current organ function, current medication regimen, or even results from pharmacogenomic testing. Once the medication is prescribed, a predetermined length of time passes before the patient is required to undergo routine laboratory work to test for current medication concentration along with a clinical assessment to rule out signs or symptoms of side effects. Providers then use their clinical judgment to determine if the medication must be adjusted, which then requires the patient to return again at a predetermined time for ongoing assessments. 

The importance of therapeutic drug monitoring


One may ask themselves: “Why does it even matter? The medication works or it doesn’t.” Certain medications have a narrow therapeutic window which can cause concern for patient wellness if medication is taken outside of that window. Providers use TDM to determine important factors such as non-adherence, subtherapeutic levels, and toxicity. The ability to identify if the patient is adherent to prescribed therapies as well as identifying the need to adjust medications to prevent patient injury is important in the long-term wellness of the patient. 

Studies have shown that patients undergoing TDM and who were adherent to medication protocol experienced fewer adverse effects, improved their ability to meet their own daily needs, and lowered overall medical costs as a result of fewer hospital admissions. 

The problem is that as medical practices grow, the ability to track a patient’s needs during TDM can become convoluted. Providers and medical staff must check when each patient’s labs are completed, document the results, communicate the need for medication changes to the patient, and repeat these steps for every designated time period. What would be the best practice for tracking TDM patients? And communicating with them about their missed appointments or the dangers associated with missing TDM steps such as laboratory work or patient assessments? The ramifications of non-adherence to medications coupled with the endless possibilities of communication errors can result in an increased risk of patient injury or even death. Some long-term effects of unmonitored medications can result in cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, thyroid disease, liver disease, and other chronic or life-threatening conditions. 

An easier way to communicate and track patient needs


With pMD's HIPAA-compliant messaging products, we are dedicated to making life easier for providers and patients alike by helping decrease communication errors, increase adherence, and improve patient outcomes. For each new customer, pMD takes the needs of the practice to heart and has the ability to build out custom fields for patient populations such as those who may require therapeutic drug monitoring, for example. In addition to this simplified way of keeping track of patient needs, pMD offers a secure telehealth platform with unlimited HIPAA-compliant text, voice, and HD video for communicating with patients. While therapeutic drug monitoring may be associated with certain patient populations, pMD is dedicated to helping a variety of different patient populations and specialties.


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

As a member of pMD’s sales team, I have the distinct pleasure of speaking to a large number of individuals in the health care industry that are seeking better, more intuitive methods of communication amongst their internal team and with their patients. Most of the time, this outreach on behalf of the prospective client is done with this sole purpose in mind. However, these individuals are mostly surprised at the level of functionality and the communications risks that they can mitigate with a more robust health care communication solution product, like pMD,  that actually serves multiple purposes other than securely texting.

Today's world is a busy place and a premium is placed on our time. Efficiency is at the forefront of the majority of people's minds and any step we can take to make better use of our time is a must. Health care providers are often at the extreme end of this lifestyle. There is a lot to do, a lot of people depending on you and often there is not enough time in the day. 

Having a consolidated means of communicating with your team and managing your day can be a great time saver and allow for accurate and transparent communication amongst a care team. This is a reality for most of us in our personal lives. At this point in America, most of us have a smartphone that keeps us connected with the ones we love and a calendar to keep us focused on our day. However, in our professional lives, we are relegated to a team calendar in one location, printing our rounding or patient list from another, and sending vague, often cryptic text messages to our colleagues or office staff to communicate any number of items dealing with a patient's care. We have all done it and are equally guilty. It's the world we live in.

pMD Pro the Solution to Managing Healthcare Communication & More

pMD recognized this need to have patient, schedule, and communication management in one location and made it a reality in our pMD® Pro solution. Now, providers and their support staff have the ability to manage their rounding list, view their appointment schedule, and communicate contextually with their colleagues. Taking one step further, providers now have the ability to enter a shared clinical note for a patient on their rounding list. Since this is a shared note, all providers in the practice are able to view this note as well as make additional entries in the event of weekend on-call or cross-coverage. 

Private, Secure Communication Outside of Your Practice

All of this is very helpful and efficient being in one location, however, in today's world, the need to communicate securely goes outside the confines of our practices and colleagues. Due to the rise of COVID-19, the world has seen a drastic shift in many industries and health care businesses have been uniquely challenged because, pandemic or not, people still get sick and need to see their provider.  This has pushed telehealth from a minimally utilized novelty to an imperative must-have in providing care to our population. This brings to mind several questions: How do I do this securely? How do I keep my personal contact information private? What is the learning curve and success rate for my elderly population going to be?

All of these questions are valid and deserve to be addressed. Using pMD’s health care communication solution, the ability to communicate securely through chat, voice calls, and video calls is not limited to only members of your business. All of these methods of communication can be utilized with patients in a controlled fashion that does not expose your personal information as a provider. pMD’s solution from a patient's perspective is intuitive and simple. This is why it has been so effective for our current customers who have already deployed pMD telehealth to their patient population. If your patient has ever sent a text or received a FaceTime call from a friend or loved one, then they will be immediately successful in completing their virtual appointment with you.

Efficient, Automated Appointment Reminders

To bring the communication loop full circle, automated appointment reminders have been developed and put into place to confirm with patients in advance and drive adherence to appointment times. These reminders, once put into place, are automated and allow patients to confirm or cancel their appointment well in advance of the scheduled date. Having a confirmed cancellation gives the practice more time to either fill that open time slot or give the provider time back into their day, reducing wasted time. After all, efficiency with our time and diverting that newfound time towards more important tasks (like providing the best possible patient care) is the goal, right?


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.



Healthcare communication


Coordinating a patient’s care is complex. Professionals from a variety of disciplines deliver care to a single patient at various times throughout the day. Specialists may be traveling from several different locations from across a city to where this one patient is receiving care. And all of this complexity limits the chance for care teams to reliably connect with each other regarding the current plan for a patient’s care.  This is when inefficiencies and medical errors arise.

Ineffective Healthcare Communication Causes Medical Errors

The growing body of research on medical error prevention reveals that ineffective or insufficient healthcare communication among care team members is a significant contributing factor to adverse events. Ineffective communication is at the root of nearly three of every four medical errors. Industry studies have classified communication errors that led to inefficiencies and medical error into a few buckets:

1) Communication that was simply too late to be helpful for the patient.
2) Failure to include the whole care team in communication about a patient.
3) Communications that proposed an action where that action was not completed.

Thus, access to a common healthcare communication platform that can link up multiple providers and support clarity in communication during the critical seconds of need must be implemented to help stop avoidable medical errors.

Reduce Medical Errors with pMD’s Healthcare Communication Platform

At pMD, we’re passionate about reducing those avoidable medical errors and saving lives. pMD’s HIPAA-compliant clinical communication and free secure messaging platforms are one key way we’re doing just that.

1) We know that texting is a quick, easy method to connect a team and convey information that can save lives. So, we’re proud to provide a proven, secure communication platform to support healthcare teams - for free.  

2) Sending images securely, including labs, diagnostic images, skin conditions, or wounds post-surgery, can link internists to specialists, residents to attendings, and patients directly to triage nurses.

3) We know that with text alone, a message can lose the inflection, emotion, or intensity intended by the sender.  So, we’ll be adding the ability to send and receive voice memos, giving messages back the volume, pitch, rhythm, and speed that can help convey a clear message.

4) And we know that verbal and non-verbal aspects of communication can be vital in ensuring clarity. Therefore, we’ll also be adding HIPAA-compliant video communication capabilities, even to our free secure messaging platform, to execute care team huddles from anywhere, to facilitate the integration of specialists, and to even host telemedicine encounters directly with patients or medical decision-makers.

At pMD, we know a text, picture, voice memo, or video encounter can vastly improve the clarity of communication. By utilizing a common secure healthcare communication platform which includes the right individuals at the right time, we can reduce medical errors and save thousands of lives.  For more information, or to easily sign up for free pMD® Secure Messaging™, please visit us here!

Find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our MIPS registry, charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.






250,000. That is the number of deaths from medical error calculated in a study by patient safety researchers at Johns Hopkins. That would make medical error the third leading cause of death in the United States, outnumbered only by heart disease and cancer. Medical error is a problem that can affect anyone. Unfortunately, this doesn’t get the same amount of attention as other issues facing health care. Comparing medical error to the current drug epidemic in the United States, the Johns Hopkins report would put the death toll from medical error at 3.5 times the number of individuals killed by drug overdoses in 2016. However, thanks to great work being done by groups like IHI and AHRQ, as well as patient safety researchers, there are steps the health care industry can take to reduce medical error.

It is worth saying that Johns Hopkins’ estimate of 250,000 isn’t without criticism. Health care systems in the United States differ dramatically by location and finding a reliable estimate of the number of patients severely affected by medical error is no easy task. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not register medical errors as a formal cause of death and that the causes of medical error are hard to solve. Studies have found that common causes of medical error include fatigue, inadequate supervision, inadequate experience, and faulty communication. These causes are often institutional failures and can't be addressed by simply flipping a switch. So, what can be done in the face of a problem with such a broad scope and no single solution? And what can an individual practice do to start addressing medical errors in their own backyard?

One example of something hospitals could do to begin addressing this issue is to implement common sense systems to catch errors before they affect a patient. For example, medication errors, a common source for medical error, can be dramatically reduced by implementing systems like Barcode Medication Administration (BCMA), where a doctor or nurse scans the medication before giving it to the patient. This simple step gives the computer a chance to check the provider’s work. But, it isn’t necessary to implement new systems that can cost a practice thousands of dollars a year. For smaller clinics, simply applying “Do not Disturb” rules whereby those administering medication are able to work in a quiet place, free from interruption, was shown to reduce the error rate of those administering medication by roughly the same amount. Another key focus of patient safety research is patient handoff. Because of the complexity and variety of patients’ conditions, patient handoffs must adjust to fit the patient's situation and do have the potential to be a large source of communication errors. However, one study looking at patient handoffs found that implementing a mnemonic device, called I-PASS, to guide physicians through patient handoffs reduced adverse events by almost a third. Simple changes like using the I-PASS method are inexpensive and are designed to ensure that all critical patient information is communicated effectively and in a timely manner. Implementing these changes doesn’t have to come at the cost of reducing the quality of patient care. The same study found that there was no increase in time spent conducting patient handoffs and there was no decrease in time spent with patients.

Humans are prone to making mistakes, and doctors are no exception. One report says that rather than blaming individuals for mistakes, institutions can create a culture of safety in the workplace and design their systems to protect patients, making patients safer while unburdening doctors with the stress of being one simple mistake away from being on the bad end of a tragic statistic. pMD is proud to work with health care teams to promote communication in the hopes of preventing medical error and improving patient care.

Find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our MIPS registry, charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.