New research has found that Electronic Health Records don’t reduce the administrative costs of medical billing. In a large academic health care system with a certified EHR, “costs for processing a single bill ranged from $20 for a primary care visit to $215 for an inpatient surgical procedure, or up to 25 percent of revenue.” That’s a staggering drain on the bottom line.
Worse yet, the researchers did not find any obvious process issues within the institution’s central billing office that could be streamlined. They said that “the high costs were not caused by wasteful, inefficient processes, duplicate or redundant tasks, or the inappropriate use of high-wage personnel to perform low-skilled tasks.” So what gives?
One factor to consider is the quality and the timeliness of the information that reaches the central billing office. If the institution is relying on EHR software to capture billing information as part of the patient’s progress note or op report, then it may take days or weeks for the physician to finalize and sign that note. Additionally, it may be missing information that is needed for billing. For example, it may have the patient’s complete problem list, but a coder may be required to determine which specific ICD-10 diagnoses this physician was addressing during their visit on this date of service. Charge entry lag and requiring coders to look at every charge would both contribute to billing overhead that can’t be streamlined away on the back end. In other words: garbage in, garbage out.
This is where mobile charge capture software is like delicious revenue peanut butter that complements the EHR’s clinical chocolate. It can get complete and accurate billing information to the central billing office in less than a day, regardless of how long the EHR progress note takes to complete. And that charge already has just the ICD-10 and charge codes that are specific to the physician’s specialty and to the date of service. The charge even acts as a “ticket” to find missing notes and thus lost revenue.
Desktop EHRs were never meant to be mobile charge capture systems, and they don’t reduce the cost of billing for medical services. And it’s expensive to try to patch up and work around issues with charge lag and coding, especially when those originate on the front end, with getting accurately and timely information to the central billing office. Fortunately, pMD Charge Capture and MIPS Registry solves this problem at its origin and results in a much faster and less expensive billing process.