Keep Your Waiting Room and Exam Rooms Full With These 4 Simple Tips

Does Your Waiting Room Sometimes Look Like This – Empty?

empty waiting room

If your waiting room is empty or half-filled, then you have too many exam rooms with this going on…

empty exam room

No Shows.  Cancellations.  Half-Filled Waiting Rooms. Rarely See A Patient More Than Once.

These are just some things plaguing practices right now.

Patient Retention is one of the most important things leading to a successful practice.

These are four simple strategies other practices are using to keep their patients long term!

#1: Retaining & Using Important Patient Information

Sometimes it can be assumed that this contact information for all of your patients is buried in a medical record, unused. Here are some helpful data points to obtain with every patient:

  • Patient’s Name

Keeping a list of every patient you have ever worked with is the best way to keeping them. They will want to feel their visit, every time, is personalized to them. Most medical record solutions will provide reports within their software to run “Patient Lists” to show this data including date last seen on all patients. Here is an example:

Sample_Patient_List

 

  • Best Contact Number for Patient

For the most part, this is a cell phone number for your patient. Text message reminders are very effective, and usually a preferred method of communication. At the very least, make sure each patient has an alternate number on file.

  • Email Address for Patient

The average person will check their emails on their phones more than 30 times a day! Sending reminders, updates or health tips via email to your patients can go a long way towards retaining your patients!

  • Patient’s Birth Date

Receiving a “Happy Birthday” from you can make your patients feel as though you really know them. Its a subtle reminder to them that the office cares and that you remember who they are.

Use all of this information to your advantage. If a patient came to you once, wouldn’t you like them to come back to see you again? Send them a birthday card. Send them reminders of their next visit. Text them to confirm an appointment. Send them health and wellness tips.

With very simple communication your patients will remember you and they will feel like you remember them and want them to come back. So use their contact information to keep in touch!

#2: Appointment Reminders Automatically Sent to Patient Via Email/Text

If you have one (or more!) no-show per week or month, isn’t that too many? If a patient makes an appointment with you, don’t you want them to show up?

Yes, it is very time consuming to personally call all of the appointments that you have each and every day. And let’s be honest, not a lot of people are answering their home phone anymore. Sometimes it feels like a complete waste of time to try and remind your patients about appointment.

You might be doing it all wrong.

Automating communication with patients is a tool that is available to you right now, and if you are using text messaging and email then it will be so much more effective.

Solutions like Auto-Remind allow you to remind patients via text, email or phone about appointments. They even confirm or reschedule for you based on the patients response.

Even if you did have time to call everyone on your schedule, automating your reminders is a much more effective way to confirm appointments and actually get patients to show up.

No more no-shows! No more lost revenue!

#3: Scheduling Ahead

During the check out process with a patient, making a habit of scheduling their next follow up or annual appointment will save you much hassle of having to do this later. It seems pretty rare to see a dentists office that isn’t booking the patients next cleaning for 6 months later at the time of the visit.

Implementing this procedure in your practice will save you time in the future and keep your schedule full!

#4: Newsletter Updates for Patients

A newsletter, whether weekly or monthly, can be a great reminder to patients to keep their health at the forefront of their minds, will establish you as an authority for their health, and the next time they need your services, the doctor they call will be you.

This can be filled with recipes, services your practice offers, health & wellness tips, as well as, how to effectively communicate with your practice about appointments, online customer portals, or social media.

Don’t have the time to do this on your own? No problem. Utilize one of the many newsletter services out there like The Newsletter Pro to help you get it done with little to no effort on your part.

 

No Shows.  Cancellations.  Half-Filled Waiting Rooms.  Not Anymore!

You are now on your way to busy schedules, full waiting rooms, and happy patients!

Follow our blog for more tips & tricks to running a successful practice.

Want to learn more about our automatic appointment reminder system for Medisoft and Lytec? Check out this 60 day free trial!

Automatic appointment reminder system for Medisoft or Lytec - get 60 day free trial

Fly Me To The Moon

moon landing new york times

In a visit to NASA in 1962, President John F. Kennedy approached a man carrying a broom during his tour and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”

The man in the NASA issued uniform was only a humble janitor, but he responded, “Well, Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

From the perspective of most people, this man was just a janitor, there to sweep the floor and clean bathrooms. But this janitor had a bigger purpose. He was there to help put a man on the moon.

No matter how large or small your role, make a contribution to the bigger picture.

I’m an all or nothing kind of person. If I’m going to do something, I’m going all out. That applies to nearly everything in my life, whether taking my wife out on a date, going on a vacation, doing my work, or learning something new.

When I was a kid, my dad and I were fascinated by computers. My dad is an entrepreneur, so what started as something we were almost obsessively intrigued by quickly turned into a business venture for the two of us.

At 14, I was working with my dad delivering, installing, and repairing computers. We knew everything about these machines from the inside out, and while we were hard at work building custom computers for our customers, Dell was bringing the standard PC to people everywhere.

The custom built computer business just wouldn’t survive, so I started to learn more about the software as well as networking and other aspects of computers to branch out.

After serving a mission to Spokane, Washington at 19, I went back to working on computers and a little later started up with Medisoft (still keeping up with my own venture on the side). I was a quick study and became a good support technician for Medisoft. But, it was easy to see that I didn’t enjoy working for someone else. Like my father, I wanted to be my own boss so I could treat clients the way I knew they deserved to be treated.

While being a support rep gave me an inside look into how I wanted to work, it also connected me with what I wanted to do. Doctors are great at being doctors, and they should be since I’m entrusting life and limb to them! And yet, we really shouldn’t expect them to also be billing experts, computer wizards, and software Einstein’s.

When it comes to small and independent practices that is certainly the expectation though.

Most independent practices don’t have a large enough staff or enough resources to keep a full-time computer guy on staff, and an expert biller, and someone who knows all the intricacies of Medisoft and how to troubleshoot any problems, and someone who can research all of the latest and greatest tools available to them, and who can also keep up to date on all the new regulations and industry changes.

Because of this, all too often a simple misunderstanding leads to a whole host of practitioners wasting their time trying to be the expert of the technology world, which makes patient care less intuitive and more complicated than it needs to be.

So, with a dealer partnership through Medisoft, AZCOMP was born in a 250-square-foot room in the back of my dad’s insurance office. We had one goal: to allow our clients to do what they’re good at (be a doctor) while we dealt with the minutia of what we’re good at (computers).

Operating as a turn-key technology service for physicians everywhere, we’re living that dream! These days, we’re well beyond those 250 square feet and are serving close to 10,000 offices, most of those are repeat clients.

Does AZCOMP help doctors be better doctors?

Here is the point: We know we aren’t doctors and don’t even know the first thing about being one, but we do know technology for independent practices.

We know that when we are able to work on your software, train your staff, and manage your computers and network, that is our contribution to helping deliver better patient care. We also know we play a small role in healthcare, but we are also excited when we can partner with a provider to help make their technology world a little easier.

No matter how big or small your role, when you contribute to the bigger story within your life, or your business or organization, it is exciting and incredible things can happen.

 

Five More Facts about ICD-10 from CMS

are you allergic to anything cartoonThe other week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) shared five facts dispelling misperceptions about the transition to ICD-10.  We posted about that and added some comments.  In case you missed it, you can read that one here.

Here are five more facts addressing common questions and concerns CMS has heard about ICD-10:

Five More Facts about ICD-10 & comments about them

1. If you cannot submit ICD-10 claims electronically, Medicare offers several options.

CMS encourages you to prepare for the transition and be ready to submit ICD-10 claims electronically for all services provided on or after October 1, 2015. But if you are not ready, Medicare has several options for providers who are unable to submit claims with ICD-10 diagnosis codes due to problems with the provider’s system. Each of these requires that the provider be able to code in ICD-10:

  • Free billing software that can be downloaded at any time from every Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC)
  • In about ½ of the MAC jurisdictions, Part B claims submission functionality on the MAC’s provider internet portal
  • Submitting paper claims, if the Administrative Simplification Compliance Act waiver provisions are met

If you take this route, be sure to allot time for you or your staff to prepare and complete training on free billing software or portals before the compliance date.

2. Practices that do not prepare for ICD-10 will not be able to submit claims for services performed on or after October 1, 2015.

Unless your practice is able to submit ICD-10 claims, whether using the alternate methods described above or electronically, your claims will not be accepted. Only claims coded with ICD-10 can be accepted for services provided on or after October 1, 2015.

3. Reimbursement for outpatient and physician office procedures will not be determined by ICD-10 codes.

Outpatient and physician office claims are not paid based on ICD-10 diagnosis codes but on CPT and HCPCS procedure codes, which are not changing. However, ICD-10-PCS codes will be used for hospital inpatient procedures, just as ICD-9 codes are used for such procedures today. Also, ICD diagnosis codes are sometimes used to determine medical necessity, regardless of care setting.

4. Costs could be substantially lower than projected earlier.

Recent studies by 3M and the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management have found many EHR vendors are including ICD-10 in their systems or upgrades—at little or no cost to their customers. As a result, software and systems costs for ICD-10 could be minimal for many providers.

5. It’s time to transition to ICD-10.

ICD-10 is foundational to modernizing health care and improving quality. ICD-10 serves as a building block that allows for greater specificity and standardized data that can:

  • Improve coordination of a patient’s care across providers over time
  • Advance public health research, public health surveillance, and emergency response through detection of disease outbreaks and adverse drug events
  • Support innovative payment models that drive quality of care
  • Enhance fraud detection efforts

What this means for smaller independent practices (from our perspective)

First – Don’t put yourself in a position where you are scrambling to try and figure out a work-around at the 11th hour.

It is very nice that Medicare offers some options for you in the event that you haven’t gotten your act together in time.  The problem with this is that you will still be scrambling to figure things out, to learn a new system, to learn what crazy hoops you have to jump through just to get by.  This will still cripple your operation.

Don’t rely on some duct tape patch job free software program provided by MAC.  The software may be free but your time is not.  Remember this is free software for sending a claim – period.  It is not a Practice Management software and it will not integrate with Medisoft or Lytec.

In the free program, you won’t be able to post payments, send statements, run reports, track aging, etc.  This means you will still need to log all of the information into your Practice Management software (Medisoft or Lytec), and then rekey it into the “free software” so that you can submit the claim.

If you are already using Medisoft or using Lytec for your billing, your best bet is to continue managing all aspects of your billing from one place in a program that you are already familiar with.

We also recommend getting the ICD-10 ready version early.  Get it early so you can practice and be prepared.  Get it early so you don’t get caught in a tidal wave of other practices who are waiting till the last minute.

 

Second – if you are using the Medisoft or Lytec EMR systems, the ICD-10 billing components are included.

When you use McKesson Practice Choice EMR that is integrated with either Lytec or Medisoft, your ICD-10 ready version of Lytec or Medisoft is included with the EMR subscription.  Same with Lytec MD or Medisoft Clinical EMR systems.  If you have already been using these systems then the ICD-10 features you need are already available to you.

If you are one of the hold-outs for implementing EMR, and if you have not upgraded your PM software, then maybe now is the time to consider implementing an EMR.  Aside from all the regular advantages of implementing EHR (which are many), and also aside from the fact that when you implement a Medisoft or Lytec EHR you will get the ICD-10 features for free, there are many aspects of our EHR systems that will make your life easier with the transition to ICD-10.

Do you want to learn how to make the transition to ICD-10 easier on you?

Click here to opt-in to our ICD-10 webinar recordings.

 

Start Practicing Using Your ICD-10 Codes As Soon As…Now!

Even if you have all of the tools that you need, if you wait until October 1 to start using everything, then it will be a rough transition.  If you haven’t worked out your own kinks, then you could see significant delays in getting your claims paid and you will be frustrated with the process.  Don’t do that to yourself.  You can start practicing today!

Here are a couple tips to help you start practicing.

Our second webinar recording shows you how to put your software (either Lytec or Medisoft) into “testing mode” so that you can submit test claims.  In our third webinar, we outline how you can test your ICD-10 claims with your clearinghouse.  We provide specific information from Relay Health because that is our preferred clearinghouse, but we give you the info you need so you can enquire with your own.

There is also a feature in your ICD-10 version of the program that allows you to just start coding everything in ICD-10 right now, but your claims will still be submitted in ICD-9 right up until September 30th!  In the program, you can set a date for when to start submitting your ICD-10 claims.  Set that date right now so you don’t need to worry about making any changes on the morning of October 1.  Learn how to do this by watching the webinars.

Doing all this will allow you to practice coding in ICD-10 now and so that you and your staff can get comfortable with the changes, but without the added stress of potentially delayed payments.

Good luck!  Please comment below if you have any questions, need any help, or have any success / failure stories to share with the community.

 

Disclaimer: AZCOMP Technologies, Inc, (AZCOMP) is providing this material as an informational reference for practices who currently submit claims using ICD-9 codes. Although every reasonable effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information within these pages at the time of posting, the Health Care industry is constantly changing, and it is the responsibility of each provider to keep themselves up to date of industry requirements.

Five Facts about ICD-10 from CMS

quick fix icd-10 conversion team cartoon

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently talked with providers to identify common misperceptions about the transition to ICD-10 in order to help dispel some of the myths surrounding ICD-10.  Some of the most common questions and concerns about ICD-10 are covered in these five facts written by CMS.

The Five Facts about ICD-10 & CMS comments about them

1. The ICD-10 transition date is October 1, 2015.

The government, payers, and large providers alike have made a substantial investment in ICD-10.  This cost will rise if the transition is delayed, and further ICD-10 delays will lead to an unnecessary rise in health care costs.  Get ready now for ICD-10.

2. You don’t have to use 68,000 codes.

Your practice does not use all 13,000 diagnosis codes available in ICD-9.  Nor will it be required to use the 68,000 codes that ICD-10 offers.  As you do now, your practice will use a very small subset of the codes.

3. You will use a similar process to look up ICD-10 codes that you use with ICD-9.

Increasing the number of diagnosis codes does not necessarily make ICD-10 harder to use.  As with ICD-9, an alphabetic index and electronic tools are available to help you with code selection.

4. Outpatient and office procedure codes aren’t changing.

The transition to ICD-10 for diagnosis coding and inpatient procedure coding does not affect the use of CPT for outpatient and office coding.  Your practice will continue to use CPT.

5. All Medicare fee-for-service providers have the opportunity to conduct testing with CMS before the ICD-10 transition.

Your practice or clearinghouse can conduct acknowledgement testing at any time with your Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC).  Testing will ensure you can submit claims with ICD-10 codes.  During a special “acknowledgment testing” week to be held on June 2015, you will have access to real-time help desk support.  Contact your MAC for details about testing plans and opportunities.

What this means for smaller independent practices (from our perspective)

First – if you feel you aren’t prepared, there is no time like today to get started.

What do you need to do to get prepared?  That answer is different for each different practice, but we have some resources available for you.  Use the ones that fit best with where you are at.

ICD-10 Planning Tools

ICD-10 Webinar Series – A few months back we hosted a series of ICD-10 webinars.  You can access the recordings now by clicking here.  In these 4 short webinars (each recording is between 30 to 45 minutes) we provide a lot of information to help with planning, to help you learn how to use the ICD-10 tools that are built into Medisoft v20/v19 and Lytec 2015/2014, how to conduct testing with your clearinghouse, and give other tips on how to become ICD-10 ready.

Quick ICD-10 Planning Checklist – This 1 page (front and back) checklist summarizes in simple terms what you need to consider for your practice to get ICD-10 ready.

ICD-10 Impact Summary – This 1 page (front side only) info sheet summarizes how ICD-10 might impact different aspects of your practice to help you understand what changes you might need to make.

Roadto10.org – They have some videos you can watch, a “Build Your Action Plan” tool you can use and many other articles and other resources.

Second – you need to upgrade to the ICD-10 ready version of your software.

Your software is not ICD-10 ready if you are not on Medisoft v20/v19, or Lytec 2015/2014.  Medisoft v18 or any other earlier model is not ICD-10 ready.  Lytec 2013 or any other earlier model is not ICD-10 ready.

Call us today at (888) 799-4777 to get your ICD-10 ready software.

Third – consider additional software solutions to help make the transition easier.

In addition to upgrading to Medisoft v20 or Lytec 2015, there are additional tools that can help make things easier.  Fact number 3 above provided by CMS states that electronic tools are available to help you with code selection.  Here are the tools that we have to offer.

Codes on Disk

If your time is valuable then you are going to truly appreciate this simple tool.  Import the latest CPT-4, ICD-10, and HCPCS codes for your specialty into Medisoft or Lytec to assist you with implementing the standard code set requirement for HIPAA.  Save yourself hours of manual labor entering all those procedure and diagnosis codes.  This tool can be used by existing Lytec and Medisoft users alike.  It will not erase your existing codes.

Encoder Pro

Encoder pro enables users to simultaneously search across ICD-10, CPT, and HCPCS codes to get integrated search results, code details, and descriptions.  This will save so much time compared to searching a physical code book by hand.  If you have Google or Bing at your fingertips, would you ever go pick up a phone book or encyclopedia or dictionary?  Take advantage of Encoder Pro the way you use Google to find things out.

EMR

Has your practice implemented an EMR yet?  If you are not using EMR yet, let ICD-10 be another reason to consider it.

How can EMR help with ICD-10?  The short answer is that we cover 5 ways an EMR can help make the transition to ICD-10 easier in our webinar series mentioned above.  Feel free to watch the webinar recordings.

Still not really a direct answer, but here are two questions to consider to get you started thinking about it.

Question 1: What is your paper superbill going to look like with the expanded list of codes you will use in your practice?

Question 2: With an increased need for documentation, how are you going to retrain yourself or your staff to be better at documentation?

With the transition to ICD-10, even though you won’t need to use all 68,000 codes, you will definitely see an increase in the number of codes you are using on a regular basis.  This could significantly increase the size of your superbill.  If you are seeing patients with a four or eight page superbill, how fun will that be to manage?

By implementing an EMR, you will make the switch to an electronic superbill which will be so much better for managing all those codes.  Additionally, the documentation needed with your ICD-10 claims will be taken care of for you while using the EMR program.

There are several other ways an EMR can help with ICD-10, which are covered in our webinar replay you can watch.  And of course EMR helps in many other aspects with amazing tools like e-prescribing, lab-interfaces, eliminating paper charts and helping to improve patient care to name just a few.  To learn more about our Medisoft and Lytec EMR options or to schedule a demo, just give us a call!

Lastly – practice using ICD-10 codes starting ASAP!

Practice!  Practice!  Practice!

Even if you have all of the tools that you need, if you wait until October 1 to start using everything, then it will be a rough transition.  If you haven’t worked out your own kinks, then you could see significant delays in getting your claims paid and you will be frustrated with the process.  Don’t do that to yourself.  You can start practicing today!

Here are a couple tips to help you start practicing.

Our second webinar recording shows you how to put your software (either Lytec or Medisoft) into “testing mode” so that you can submit test claims.  In our third webinar, we outline how you can test your ICD-10 claims with your clearinghouse.  We provide specific information from Relay Health because that is our preferred clearinghouse, but we give you the info you need so you can enquire with your own.

There is also a feature in your ICD-10 version of the program that allows you to just start coding everything in ICD-10 right now, but your claims will still be submitted in ICD-9 right up until September 30th!  In the program, you can set a date for when to start submitting your ICD-10 claims.  Set that date right now so you don’t need to worry about making any changes on the morning of October 1.  

Doing all this will allow you to practice coding in ICD-10 now and so that you and your staff can get comfortable with the changes, but without the added stress of potentially delayed payments.

That’s it for now.

If you’ve been working on getting ICD-10 ready at your practice – feel free to share your successes or your failures with the community so we can learn from each other.  Share with us in the comments below!