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How to Keep Your Office Organized

Keeping a clean and organized office not only looks good to your coworkers, but also helps keep your mind at peace. For many of us, problems keeping an organized work space go all the way back to our parents asking us to clean our room. A messy work space can have a destructive effect on your sense of clarity; sifting through piles of paper and digging through shelves takes valuable time away from projects tasks that need it. Luckily, there are ways you can keep your office organized that will have a significant effect on your work.

Encourage Organization at the Door

How many times have you lost your keys? Although we use them every day, we somehow find a way to misplace them. The same phenomenon occurs in the office, we walk in with literature, keys, coats, and food that ends up scattered around the desk and sometimes the floor. Curb this behavior by adding shelves, hooks, or bins right at the entrance so that you get into the habit of staying organized from the moment you enter.

Get Rid of Paper

Paper accumulates quicker than any thing else in your office, and before you know it that memo or two you receive a day can turn into a massive pile before you know it. Do yourself a favor and get of it, now. Shred or recycle anything that isn’t important, be sure to mark out any personal information. Take your remaining paper and begin organizing it, which brings us to the next organizational tip.

Binders

Buy them, use them. Binders used to be the coolest back-to-school supply when many of us were still young, and now they serve an even more important purpose. Dividing up your literature into separate binders complete with plastic sleeves makes your life a lot easier since you can find what you need without having to dig. The best thing about binders is that they can all easily fit on to a shelf or two, which opens up more space in your office.

Cut the “Home” Out of Your Home Office

More people than ever work in remote jobs from home and doing so requires them to establish a work space. This can range from a table in the corner to a whole room set aside as a home office. If you’re fortunate to have a home office it’s imperative that you treat it as such, an office. Resist the temptation to bring in food, drinks, iPads, instruments, shoes, or anything else that can become a distraction and take up unnecessary space.

It can be hard at first to break the habits attributed to disorganization, but like any habit, they can be broken with time. By implementing these small changes to your work or home office, you can seriously help the way you feel about yourself, which will make people feel better about your work.

How Outsourcing Saves You Time and Money

A growing trend among companies, hospitals, and non-profit organizations is the use of outsourcing. Whether it’s customer service, data mining, network security, or automation services, the benefits of outsourcing have outgrown our expectations. If you were to ask any organization why they chose to outsource, you will probably get one of two answers, it saved them time or money… or both. In fact, Deloitte Consulting reported that 65% of companies utilized outsourcing due to lower costs. For a practice short on resources, outsourcing can provide much needed salvation.

Where Are the Costs Cut?

BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) can help your practice with contract processing, patient communications, and even payroll. Costs can be cut when new employees are introduced to your organization. HR operations are costly, which is one reason many places hold off on acquiring new, much-needed talent. Outsourcing HR operations means that your management team can spend more time training your new employee instead of trying to balance all the paperwork and processes associated with hiring.

Speaking of training, outsourcing can also help train your staff in new software or systems used in your practice. Again, with expert training being handled by a trusted partner, your management can feel confident about the employee’s ability to handle the change. Not only can outsourcing train your employees to use new software, but it can also provide the means to develop and maintain that software for you.

Software development, along with IT services, are extremely popular with companies looking to outsource these days. Patient records, health insurance information, and other important data can require custom software or systems that your in-house IT team is not capable, or doesn’t have the time, to create. Security is also a huge factor in outsourcing these operations, especially in the medical industry. A recent survey of 1,300 physicians found that 83% had experienced some form of cyber attack. It’s because of this that many practices have outsourced their data storage and security operations for fear of a data breach that could result in theft or even lawsuits.

Time is Money

The phrase is all-too familiar, but the fact remains; time spent doing tasks your employees weren’t hired for means time away from their actual job. This ensures that your employees aren’t feeling taken advantage of, which results in stress, and eventually resignation. You have a talented staff, and the addition of an outsourcing partner provides them professional support and lifts a huge weight off your practice. If you feel that your staff’s time is being taken up by menial tasks, or that your business is throwing away thousands attempting BPO on its own, then it’s time you start researching outsourcing solutions.

The Importance of Delegating Tasks

Do you ever feel like you’re too busy? Is your workload becoming so large that it’s impacting the results of your work? Try delegating more tasks to your team or outsourcing to an organization or agency. Delegation can be difficult, because we often feel that we are the only ones who can complete something the “right” way. It can be hard to trust others to take care of important tasks, but it’s important to take that leap of faith to improve business practices. Remember – you hired your staff for a reason, and your time is better served away from administrative tasks. Here are some ways delegation will help you and your team:

Establishing Trust and Self-Esteem

When you delegate projects to your employees, you are fostering a culture of trust within your staff. By giving them important tasks (even the task of outsourcing tasks), you are showing them that you trust their capabilities and talent. This is good for both team morale and individual self-esteem. When your staff’s self-esteem is high, it will motivate them to do their best work and lead to everyone accomplishing their goals.

Increase Team Flexibility and Efficiency

By delegating tasks and projects, you are budgeting time more efficiently. As a result, your team will get much more done. When tasks are moved around among staff members, you are also encouraging your team to learn and develop new skills. It’s impossible to take care of everything on your own (and you don’t want your team to stay idle), so delegating projects provides everyone with an adequate and reasonable workload.

Job Enhancement

Providing your team with interesting projects and tasks makes their work day more enjoyable. When you give your staff more authority and responsibility, they will begin to take their own initiative within their position and use their imagination. This can lead to great ideas being brainstormed, such as solutions to problems that you might not have previously recognized.

Employee Retention

Delegating work to your staff will keep them motivated and interested, making them less likely to leave your team. By demonstrating that your team recognizes and uses everyone’s talents as best they can, you will keep your staff happy. The longer a team stays whole and productive, the more their stability and productivity will grow. This is great for everyone involved!

Delegation is an important skill for effective leaders, and a happy, effective team is great for business. Keep this in mind the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with your work load, and consider assigning additional projects to your staff.

How to Protect Your Medical Practice from a Cyberattack

There was a time when financial institutions and businesses faced the constant threat of having their cash registers and banks cleaned out by criminals. As security systems evolved, so have criminals; where the prize was once money in the drawer, now it’s data in the servers. Medical practices face the prospect of this new threat that will grow and change naturally with the technology available to society: cyberattacks. It’s essential to take preventative measures to protect patient privacy, sensitive information, finances and more. Read on to learn how to protect your medical practice from a cyberattack.

Why Medical Practices?

Despite their lack of coverage in the media, medical practices are successfully attacked every year. A recent survey of 1,300 physicians found that 83% had experienced some sort of cyberattack. Why are they being targeted? Doctors’ offices and hospitals are attractive targets because the information they store is extremely sensitive, which gives hackers an advantage in leveraging payment. A medical practice experiencing this type of attack will undoubtedly be faced with an interruption of services.

An interruption of services due to an attack can cost a practice thousands of dollars, as well as hindering the trust of your future and current patients. Advancements in cyber security and initiatives by the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force have proven effective at deterring attacks, but arguably the most important aspect of cyber security is what goes on inside your practice.

Take Control of Data

Addresses and insurance information alone present a tempting opportunity for cyber criminals. Keeping this information safe should be your first step in securing your practice, and you can do so by educating your employees on what cyber security looks like in their day-to-day work. Emphasize the importance of logging out of systems every time employees leave their computers, and make sure everyone’s login information is unique. Attention should also be placed on access restriction, with only authorized members of your staff given access to the most sensitive information. Employees that have been let go, or have resigned, should immediately be stripped of all access authorization to prevent retaliation or outside breaches.

Be Proactive

In addition to removing permissions from ex-employees, it’s imperative that you change your passwords afterwards. Choosing a new password doesn’t mean adding one more character to your current one or reverting to passwords in the past. Passwords should be unique to each system, device, and employee; cutting corners only leads to more problems in the future. Software also presents an opportunity to cut corners; whenever you’re notified of a new update for your software, notify your IT team, and then wait for their assessment of the patches, updates, and possible risks to your systems.

Plan for the Worst

If you have not moved all or the bulk of your data into cloud storage, then your practice is playing a dangerous game. Not only does a cloud keep information off vulnerable in-house servers, but also gives your practice a safety net in the event your data is held ransom. Risk assessments should be performed regularly, and your staff should be informed of each new security threat or process. The rate of recovery after a cyberattack depends on the measures your practice has taken ahead of time. Communication among security personnel and unaffected data in a cloud are your practice’s best bet at bouncing back from an attack.

Tips for Marketing a Medical Practice

Like any business or organization, a medical practice needs to invest in the proper marketing to ensure a steady influx of patients who know and trust the practice with their healthcare. Whether through social media marketing, print marketing or networking events, medical practices must be willing to make an effort – as it doesn’t matter how amazing the practice’s care is if no one can find any information on it. Check out these helpful tips for marketing a medical practice.

Establish Branding for Your Practice

Branding will help potential patients instantly recognize your practice across many forms of media: social media, newspaper ads, and your website, for example. Choose a color scheme and business name that appears professional and symbolizes your practice. It helps to make your logo stand out from others as well – so, don’t use other logos as “inspiration,” rather come up with something that will relate to your practice’s unique philosophy. Keep this branding consistent throughout all of your marketing materials so patients can easily recognize that the information is coming from your practice.

Be Accessible to Internet Users

Most people who will be looking for services will use the internet to search for providers, look at reviews, and email/message to ask questions. It is a good idea to have a mobile-friendly, professional website with frequent blogs as well as active social media pages to ensure your practice’s services and contact information are readily available to the masses. In particular, social media provides an avenue for you to be personable and professional with users – as well as run ads in your local area, increasing your outreach. Make sure to post at least 5-10 times per week to help your business appear more frequently on the feeds of people in your community.

Give Out Health Tips

By providing health tips, you are reassuring patients that they are being considered and that you care for their well-being, even when they aren’t in your office. You can provide health tips through physical or digital newsletters, social media, or blog posts. Including these in your marketing plan reaffirms your practice’s professionalism in its field, as well as the compassion of its staff.

Send Out Appointment Reminders and Follow Ups

Patients notice and appreciate attentiveness, especially in the form of appointment reminders and follow ups. If your practice uses a HIPAA-compliant reminder system, it’s very easy to set up. However, if your practice is smaller and you have the staff available for it, personal text or phone call reminders are useful as well.

Be Active in Your Community

Maintaining a presence at sporting events, health fairs, town festivals, and anywhere else you can set up a booth will lead to more people knowing your practice’s name. At these booths, run small raffles, or at the very least hand out pens, small fridge magnets, and other accoutrement advertising your business. This way, your practice will be on the fridges and in the offices of local residents.

Another effective way to be active in your community is to donate a physical or other basic service to a local charity auction. You should also be available to local news centers for interviews that can advertise your practice. These methods will help spread your practice’s name to the community and potentially those that surround it.

 

For any medical practice to succeed, it’s paramount that patients can have access to information and be able to easily spread the word. Start by establishing branding, maintaining an active website and social media pages, following up with current and potential patients and being an active presence in the local community.

The Rise of Telemedicine

Convenience is the name of the game in modern days. Whether it’s the meals we prepare for our families or the shows we stream online, the ability to do things with relatively less effort has gained appeal worldwide. In the world of health and medicine, convenience’s appeal is no different, and telemedicine is answering the call for a more streamlined and efficient industry.

What is Telemedicine?

What began as a concept that was more sci-fi than medical, telemedicine has evolved since its original beginning during the 1950s. The original intent of the practice was to reach patients in rural areas who did not have access to medical services nearby. While telemedicine still serves the same purpose for people in said locations, the practice has grown beyond strictly lengthy commuting purposes primarily due to its general efficiency. The ability to stay home and contact a health professional without having to worry about driving to the nearest office is having a serious effect on the healthcare industry as a whole.

Effect on Patients

Mobile health apps – one aspect of telemedicine – have had a rolling effect on future patients, changing their behaviors and attitudes toward their own health. The convenience of medical websites and tracking apps has inadvertently made patients more proactive when it comes to their own health. More patient engagement means better communication between doctors and patients, allowing for better care and follow-up when necessary. Telemedicine also helps smaller hospitals that may not have access to a specific set of specialists on staff – with consultations just a video call away, there is always someone who can address a patient’s needs.

Although it seems like telemedicine is a no-brainer solution to the health industry’s problems in the future, it is not without its faults. Not all service providers have the same policies regarding reimbursement and other fees, so its best to check benefits beforehand.

Effect on the Industry

Telemedicine is having a huge effect on the overall industry, and everything from consultations to apps are playing a unique part. For instance, iBlueButton allows a patient’s medical records to be stored into one single app, which simplifies the process of filling out extensive paperwork at the doctor’s office since its readily available. Another app, MyChart, connects patients directly with their doctor and service providers to schedule appointments and set reminders for not only them, but their whole family. A move toward scheduling automation will surely change the nature of medical office staff’s role in the appointment process.

Telemedicine is having a major effect on healthcare costs as well; whether it’s a decrease in ER visits or more self-discipline concerning medications, the industry can take comfort in knowing that unnecessary costs are dropping. While unnecessary costs may drop, it does not mean all costs will follow suit. The technology needed for telemedicine can range from a simple web cam to a large dedicated server or system – which will require training to use. It will be up to healthcare facilities to decide whether these costs will outweigh the benefits already evidenced by telemedicine’s growth in popularity.

For more information about telemedicine services, see:

https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNProducts/downloads/telehealthsrvcsfctsht.pdf

RCM Tip of the Day: Consider Revenue Cycle Outsourcing

Guest Post by Kelly Gooch

Outsourcing the revenue cycle management process can prove beneficial for healthcare organizations, according to Joel Gleason, senior vice president and global market head of the provider segment at Cognizant.

Mr. Gleason shared the following tip with Becker’s Hospital Review.

“For hospitals and standalone healthcare providers, it’s all about delivering top-quality care, not necessarily managing the revenue cycle. Collecting payment is crucial to success. But chances are it’s not a core competency.

“In fact, 57 percent of businesses outsource because it allows them to concentrate on what they’re good at, according to Deloitte. Focusing on the core business is the second most popular reason to outsource, just two percentage points behind cost-cutting. Outsourcing revenue cycle management to an organization that understands the process often is an excellent choice.

“While most companies outsource to save money, I’d argue it’s equally important to get outside help because it allows a healthcare organization to focus on what it does best, which is providing patient care.

“By outsourcing the revenue cycle management process, healthcare businesses can reallocate human and financial resources to use them in other parts of the business, and utilize the most up-to-date services.”

 

5 Keys to Following Medicare Reimbursement Rules

Medicare Reimbursement is the practice in which Medicare beneficiaries are not billed directly for services, but instead utilize Medicare to pay physicians or hospitals who offered the service. In some events, you may have to pay the bill up front, and file for reimbursement afterwards. This can be tricky, and there is a lot to take into consideration when filing for reimbursement. Here are a few basics can help keep healthcare providers in compliance with Medicare rules.

  1. Go directly to the source.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) and its Medicare contractors publish detailed information related to most any question or concern. Assume that the answer is out there, you just have to find it. The sheer volume of information available can present its own challenges to answering a precise question but odds are that you will find what you need. When you do find the documentation, save it along with the original question as reference for any future inquires.

  1. Only seek documents or references from CMS.

Unsubstantiated advice is not a compliance plan. This type of advice usually comes in the form of free advice, be wary. Having said that, sometimes advice may be useful in the search for the source reference material.

  1. Avoid payment-based advice.

The question “Can I get paid for that?” is a loaded one. Medicare claim processing is built on the premise that providers know the rules. This is the most dangerous kind of advice. The ability to get paid is not equivalent to following the law. A quick search of “Medicare fraud arrest” will detail the practices of thousands of people that got paid.

  1. Don’t trust Medicare customer service staff.

The customer service staff at the Medicare carriers are line level staff that do not have extensive knowledge to answer your specific question. In fact, there is no person that could possess all of the information possible to respond to general incoming calls. Any advice you may receive from a customer service representative is a guess based on limited information at best.

  1. If all else fails, hire a consultant.

Hiring a consultant who can locate the definitive answer and provide documentation from CMS is the best place to turn when you hit a roadblock. Consultants come in many varieties and costs. Just remember that you are looking for the “gold standard,” which is CMS documentation.

When filing for reimbursement, it’s essential to stay informed and have confidence in your decisions. Always assume the answer is out there and never hesitate to seek outside assistance. Don’t rely solely on Medicare representatives for answers. Doing a little research beforehand may seem tedious but can save you time and money in the long run.

ACA Preventive Services to Promote Wellness: A Bust?

Popular media talks about “free” preventive exams or physicals offered through the Affordable Care Act (Hey reporters! They aren’t free). Millions dutifully head to their doctor each year to receive their preventive exam. But are these exams truly effective in preventing future health issues?

Did the ACA create a “wellness culture” across society as hoped with these preventive programs? Unfortunately not. It seems the ACA created more healthcare services that otherwise would not have been necessary or utilized. There may be isolated exceptions, but the U.S. healthcare system still focuses on sickness rather than wellness. Preventive care exams are mostly to detect sickness, not to promote wellness.

Annual visits may be described as preventive but seem to be merely annual physicals that create a record of basic measures and perhaps catch illness earlier. Sometimes the incentives for preventive or wellness exams are the sole reason for a patient to attend them. Many large employers offer bonuses, gift cards, and other rewards for completing a wellness exam.

The ACA disappointment is that wellness seems to be missing. Do we need to pay a doctor to tell us annually that we eat too much, drink too much, or smoke too much? Yes, many of us do. Maybe we need a doctor to translate the effects of habits into disease process, pain, and death to help us understand the importance. Instruction on how to change habits would be a powerful method to promote wellness.

We live in a time where a high percentage of U.S. medical care, disease processes, and healthcare costs are caused by lifestyle choices. Do preventive exams address lifestyle factors such as a taxing career, mental stress, family dynamics, and more? Does the ACA overall address these lifestyle choices? In most cases they do not and require extra effort on the part of the patient to address said issues.

Let’s face it, traditional medicine is not designed to promote good lifestyles. Medicine can, however, keep you living a long time despite your lifestyle. Many see medicine as the solution and forego any attempt at living a healthier life.

The cost of preventing future sickness will no doubt be less than those incurred once an illness or condition is diagnosed. We tend to think of costs in purely financial terms, but there are costs to our health if we do not live a healthy life. It can be more expensive to join a gym, eat more natural foods, and live an active life, but those costs are preferential to the result of not engaging in these practices. It’s time we start focusing on wellness from the start and commit to good habits before a physician or medical professional advises so.

AMA News – EHR uses half the primary care workday

Primary care physicians spend more than half of their workday at a computer screen performing data entry and other tasks with electronic medical records (EHRs), according to new research from experts at the University of Wisconsin and the American Medical Association (AMA).

Based on data from EHR event logs and confirmed by direct observation data, researchers found that during a typical 11.4-hour workday, primary care physicians spent nearly six hours on data entry and other tasks with EHR systems during and after clinical hours. The study was published today in the Annals of Family Medicine.

Click here to read the full AMA article.

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