Why does cyber security matter in healthcare?
Cybersecurity is a crucial aspect of healthcare as it ensures the protection of sensitive patient information from cyber-attacks. With the increasing use of technology in healthcare, such as electronic health records, telemedicine, and an increase in remote workers, the risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks has also increased.
The consequences of a cyber-attack in healthcare can be devastating because it can compromise patient privacy, lead to identity theft, and disrupt the delivery of critical healthcare services. Moreover, healthcare organizations that fail to protect patient information can face legal and financial penalties. All these factors combined mean that understanding your healthcare organization’s cyber security is more important than ever!
Healthcare Cyber-Attacks: The Numbers
Healthcare organizations are highly targeted by hackers because electronic health records contain so much information. These records have patient health information, personally identifying information, and financial information all stored together.
A study covering cyber insecurity in healthcare found that 89% of healthcare organizations surveyed experienced at least one cyberattack in the past 12 months. These cyberattacks have been shown to correlate with a negative impact on client care as well.
Therefore, it is essential for healthcare organizations to prioritize cyber security.
Healthcare Cyber Security: How to do it
Healthcare organizations need to take steps to implement robust security measures such as firewalls, encryption, and regular security audits. If you’re in leadership, work on reframing cyber security from a technology issue to a risk-management issue within your organization and be willing to prioritize your security program.
Staffing can be a challenge in the IT space, and if your healthcare organization is struggling to recruit IT talent to invest in your security, consider outsourcing to a reputable IT company that can help you protect your PHI.
Additionally, all staff members should be trained to identify and prevent cyber threats. Different positions need different levels of training, but if you teach your whole team to view cyber security as a part of providing quality patient care, it empowers them to view themselves as “proactive defenders of patients and their data” and can help everyone on your team vigilantly keep their eyes open for potential cyber security issues and pay attention to security details.
Finally, ensure that any company you work with outside of our healthcare organization takes your cyber security seriously. Practice Management has multiple cyber security features in place – you can check them out here – and any company that has access to your PHI should be openly communicative and diligent with their dynamic security strategy.
In an increasingly digital world, cyber security matters in healthcare because it safeguards patient privacy and ensures the continuity of critical healthcare services. Healthcare organizations and professionals must take proactive steps to protect patient information from cyber-attacks to maintain the trust and confidence of patients.
Outsourcing your Billing – Myths vs. Facts
To outsource or not to outsource – that is the daunting question facing many healthcare organizations. Outsourcing your billing can be a great way to save time, money, and resources, allowing you to reinvest in your practice. But there are many myths surrounding billing companies, the outsourcing process, and the types of healthcare organizations that can use outsourcing services. Today, we’re busting some of the most common myths and serving up facts about outsourcing your medical billing.
Myth 1: Outsourcing medical billing is expensive.
Fact: Outsourcing medical billing is cost-effective.
It can provide you with access to the latest technology and the experience of a team of professionals that are dedicated to your practice. Oftentimes, outsourcing is even more cost effective than employing your own billing staff. Employees at the medical billing companies are experts in their field and come with years of experience and training in billing intricacies. Finding employees to hire with their level of expertise is incredibly difficult and affording them can be even harder. Outsourcing gives you access to extremely skilled billing employees at an affordable rate. Plus, you’ll have access to resources that you wouldn’t have available if you handled billing in-house. The goal of a good outsourcing team is to maximize the money you are collecting, and improve your cashflow, not cost you more money.
Myth 2: Outsourcing medical billing is risky.
Fact: Outsourcing your medical billing is very secure.
Most medical billing companies have industry-standard data security measures in place, including encryption and firewalls. Plus, they have the experience and knowledge to handle any HIPAA compliance issues that may arise. Practice Management takes the security of our clients extremely seriously, employing multiple cyber-security measures including MFA, data loss detection, and penetration testing. A reputable outsourcing company should clearly outline their security processes and protocols.
Myth 3: Outsourcing medical billing will take too much of your time.
Fact: Outsourcing medical billing can save you time.
With the help of a medical billing company, you can streamline your billing process, set up automated payment reminders, and manage claims quickly and accurately. This can free up you and your staff to focus on other areas of your practice. The staff at revenue cycle management companies’ focus is billing, and not only does that make them experts at what they do (as we mentioned in #1) it also means they can work quicker and pay attention to important details as they submit claims and follow up on denials. Having a team dedicated just to billing means you are more likely to submit claims and appeals in a timely manner and follow up on patient payments quickly and regularly.
Myth 4: Outsourcing means less quality work.
Fact: Outsourcing provides quality work and a meaningful connection with your outsourcing team.
The right medical billing company should function as your billing department and focus on providing quality service for your healthcare organization. When you find the right partner, you are leveraging experts who can not only finish your tasks more efficiently but effectively as well. Revenue cycle management companies provide custom reports tailored to your unique needs to keep you in the loop on everything happening in your revenue cycle and ensure you feel informed and in control. Finding an outsourcing company that believes in the importance of connecting with their clients means you will have an outsourced team that feels loyalty to your organization. Getting support and answers to your questions should also be a quick and easy process.
Myth 5: Outsourcing is only for big practices and hospitals.
Fact: Outsourcing is for healthcare organizations of all sizes.
The idea that outsourcing is exclusive to large operations has persisted for decades and it’s fortunately not true. There are outsourcing solutions for medical practices and companies of all sizes. Outsourcing can work for any sized organization if you take the time to find a billing company that will work with you and customize a suite of services that fit your needs. Practice Management has experience working with clients ranging from small group practices with 3 providers at one location to large FQHCs and healthcare systems with over 100 providers spread across multiple locations. With a little research, you can definitely find an outsourcing company with experience working with an organization or practice just like yours.
Consider those outsourcing myths busted!
Outsourcing your medical billing could be the right decision for you and your team. There are many benefits, including increased revenue, efficiency, and quality. Taking the time to research the pros and cons and find a company that fits your needs could be the best decision for growing your practice!
If you’re interested in learning more about Practice Management’s suite of services and how they can maximize your revenue, contact us today!
Dry January – Trendy and Healthy?
Dry January seems like it’s everywhere right now! From social media challenges to local bars offering mocktails in honor of the month, Dry January is bigger than ever.
What is Dry January? Today we’re diving into this health trend and exploring the potential benefits of cutting down on booze for 31 days in a row.
What is Dry January
According to Alcohol Change, Dry January officially started as a public health initiative in 2013 with 4,000 people and has grown every year since. The concept is simple – take a break from drinking any alcohol for an entire month. Technically, this can be done anytime of the year, but January feels like a perfect time for many as it comes on the heels of heavy holiday indulgence and coincides with New Year’s Resolutions.
Why Try Dry?
Alcohol use has been up for the past 10 years, and the pandemic spiked those trends even higher. Not all alcohol use is detrimental, and moderate drinking has even correlated with some health benefits, but heavier drinking and long-term drinking can cause serious health problems. Heavy drinking is defined by the CDC as 8 drinks or more per week for women, and 15 drinks or more per week for men. Especially during the holiday season, you may find yourself hitting those numbers often, and taking a 31 day break can provide physical benefits as well as offering a chance to mentally reset and learn new emotional coping skills.
Chronic heavy drinking is linked to higher cancer risks, weak immune systems, memory issues and mood disorders. Lowering your alcohol consumption could provide you with some immediate benefits in the short term, and help your health improve in the long term if you are able to reset your drinking habits.
- Better sleep: Alcohol messes with the sleep/wake cycles in your brain, and drinking before bed, while it may make you feel sleepy initially, can interrupt your REM cycle, resulting in fitful sleep that doesn’t really allow your body to rest deeply. Cutting out alcohol will help you get good sleep, which means more energy and more time for your body to heal itself.
- Weight Loss: This isn’t a guarantee, as every body and metabolism is different, but alcohol packs a calorically dense punch, and cutting out those liquid calories could lead to a few pounds dropping off without much effort.
- Saving Money: While studies show that the average American household spends $579 annually on alcohol, the number could be much higher if you’re regularly going out for drinks. If you regularly enjoy just 2 drinks each day on Friday and Saturday at $10 each, that totals to over $2,000 annually, not including taxes and tips!
- Blood benefits: According to a study in BMJ Open, regular drinkers who cut out alcohol for one month lowered their blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and cancer-related proteins in their blood.
Tips for Success
Whether you’re nearing the end of your Dry January experiment, or you have decided you want to try a Dry February instead, we’ve got some tips to get you over the finish line!
- Find a substitute drink! For many, having a glass of wine or a cocktail is more a force of habit than anything else. Finding something that still feels like a ritual can help you stay dry. Try crafting your own mocktails at home, or even serving yourself your sparkling water in a wine glass.
- Keep alcohol out of the house. It will be easier to stick to your goals if your favorite drink isn’t within arm’s reach of your couch.
- Let others know your plan and ask for support. If you let your friends and family know your goals around alcohol, they will be less likely to tempt you with drink invitations. You may even get a few friends to join you on your 31 day journey!
Be mindful of your emotions through this process and be aware that individuals with alcohol dependence or addiction could experience dangerous and even life-threatening side effects from a complete detox. If you are worried for yourself or a loved one, consult with a medical professional before attempting a month of alcohol abstinence.
Dry January is a great opportunity to explore the health benefits of lowering your alcohol consumption, but it also provides a moment of reflection on our habits and our coping skills. Some people try dry and never look back!
How to be a Master Delegator: 7 Tips for Leaders
Delegating is a vital skill for managers, but if you don’t learn to delegate effectively, you will not only overload your own schedule, max out your capacity, and prioritize the wrong tasks, but your staff will miss out on valuable training and opportunities to grow.
Delegation, like any valuable skill, takes practice and time. Integrating these tips slowly into your leadership style will help you and your staff grow over the course of the new year.
First things first, what is delegation and why do I need it?
Merriam Webster defines delegation as “the act of empowering to act for another” and that truly captures the benefits delegation can bring to you staff.
When you learn to effectively delegate, you will ensure you have time to focus on important activities that require intense dedication of your skill and time, and your staff will learn new skills, grow as professionals, gel better as a team, and increase both their morale and their productivity.
Delegating doesn’t just produce a better work environment – it is also linked to tangible revenue increases. A survey conducted by Gallup found that CEOs who mastered delegation generated 33% greater revenue.
So, we know why we need it – now how do we do it?
Top 7 Tips to become a Master Delegator
- Learn what to delegate
We just spent 5 paragraphs talking about how great delegating is, but even so, not everything can be delegated. Learning what to delegate is step number one. Some tasks require your managerial and strategic expertise, but there are a lot of tasks you can delegate to your team.
Consider handing off:
- Recurring tasks that happen daily, weekly, or monthly
- Tasks that don’t have to be completed in a specific way – allowing for staff creativity and different work styles
- Teachable moments – tasks that would help further your employees’ careers
- Tasks that can be outsourced to third party companies that employee experts in their fields (we’ll talk more about this in #6)
- Anything that aligns with a specific professional goal you know an employee is working towards
- Know your team
Delegating to the right people is vital to the success of each project! Take time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of your team. This will help you select people you know can do the job well, and research shows individuals are more motivated and engaged when they have a high chance of doing a job well.
But you also want to understand the interests of your employees. If there is someone who wants to grow professionally in a certain skill, finding a task in that arena to hand off to them provides a great opportunity for them to grow, and allows you to develop a more well-rounded team. Take time to get to know your direct reports. Ask them what skills they currently have, but also ask them what skills they would like to learn and what areas of your organization interest them the most.
- Guide, don’t micromanage
This is one of the hardest steps for new delegators. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we are the only person on the planet that knows how to accomplish a certain task, and that our method is the only proper method. But, instructing your employee how to accomplish a task step by step and then monitoring each step along the way isn’t empowering, doesn’t save you any time, and doesn’t foster growth. One survey found that employees who felt micromanaged experienced a decrease in morale and productivity.
Instead, make sure they understand the desired goal of the project, the expectations of their work, and appropriate due dates. Check in periodically, have team meetings when appropriate, and make sure your employees have clear and easy lines of communication open with you as they work, but be sure they are allowed flexibility on how they reach the end goal of the project and be open to new ideas when there isn’t a specific protocol or procedure in place.
- Be Patient
Delegating has a lot of benefits, but it won’t be an instant fix. As your team members tackle tasks they have never handled before, they will have lots of questions. Prepare to take time to answer those questions and understand that tasks that normally take you 15 minutes might take 30 minutes as they learn new skills and procedures. Allow them time to master their new tasks and hone their time management skills without expecting perfection immediately.
- Give your team the resources to succeed
Make sure your employees have the practical tools they need to succeed. This means they need access to documents, procedures, and historical data on their new project, as well as clear metrics for measuring success, and expected timelines. Giving them the resources needed to succeed might also mean investing in training. If a staff member requires training to complete a specific task, it may be tempting to write them off and take over the task yourself, but training is an investment in your team, and can encourage employee retention.
- Outsource when needed
Sometimes, your team just doesn’t have a certain ultra-specific skillset, and the training is either too time-intensive or out of the question budget-wise. When you face a task like that, outsourcing can be a great option. Learning to recognize tasks you need done but cannot provide training for allows you to identify prime areas for outsourcing. IT and Medical Billing are great areas to explore outsourcing as a resource.
But the rules of master delegators still apply! Make sure you get to know your outsourcing company well, have access to your outsourced team, and identify a company that has the skills you need to get the job done better than anyone on your current team. If you’re interested in outsourcing your medical billing, send Practice Management a message here – we’d love to get to know you and see if we’re a good fit!
- Share the spotlight
Taking all the credit for a task you delegated out is a great way to tank your team morale. Thanking team members that successfully complete new tasks not only makes your employees feel good, but also increases their engagement leading to more productivity and job satisfaction.
Prioritizing delegation in 2023 can lead to one of your best years ever by freeing up your time for high-level projects, empowering your team, and boosting productivity across the board!
5 Ways to Grow Your Practice
Whether your organization is a group practice, an FQHC, a hospital, or another type of healthcare organization, growth is always the goal, but growing your practice looks different in 2022 than it did in 1992. Patients have turned into consumers, seeking a high level of customer service. Many patients are viewing healthcare as a purchase and are doing more research than ever before – and that research is being conducted online. Attracting new patients and growing your practice now requires a mix of digital and in-person efforts.
How can you grow your practice in the coming year? This month, we’re sharing 5 of our favorite ways to grow your practice!
- Deliver the best experience possible
Before we dive into the digital world, step 1 is ensuring that you are providing the best care and patient experience possible! You want your patients to feel comfortable in your practice and rave about their experience.
Make sure you are prioritizing patient care. This doesn’t just come down to the skill of your providers, but also their workload and bedside habits. Encourage your providers to spend time getting to know their patients, listening to them, providing clear communication, and developing appropriate relationships.
The patient experience goes beyond their interaction with their primary physician. From the very first interaction a patient has with your healthcare organization, you want to create a positive experience. Phone calls should be easy and pleasant, email communication should be courteous, and new patients should be provided with practical information like where to park, how to find your building, and where to check in before they arrive for their appointment.
- Prioritize your website
77% of patients use search engines prior to booking appointments, and the top Google result receives 33% more clicks than other search results. Your website matters!
Since your website will likely be the first impression a potential patient gets of your practice, you want it to contain accurate information. Ensure that all the information, from addresses and phone numbers to physician names and photos are up to date. You also want the site to be aesthetically pleasing. Consider paying a web developer to design your site or use one of the many simple softwares that allow you to build your own website so you can keep your site looking clean and modern. And don’t forget mobile users when creating your design!
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is also important for your website, and will help boost you into that top spot in Google search results. SEO sounds scarier than it is – we promise! SEO will improve organically for your practice website if you keep your information accurate and produce content that relates to the patients who will be searching for your practice.
- Consider outsourcing your billing
If you want to grow your practice, it’s no secret you’ll need money! Increasing your revenue allows you to reinvest in your programs, hire new staff, and purchase new technology, enabling you to comfortably and effectively handle a heavier patient load. But how do you increase your revenue before you increase your patients?
Outsourcing your billing could be the answer! Practice Management has been helping our clients increase their revenue since 1995 – one client experienced a 64% increase in revenue while seeing 25.7% fewer patients overall (check out more testimonials here). Outsourcing your billing means your team will have more time to focus on their everyday tasks and get traction on their projects. You will have the financial freedom to grow your client base at a rate that is sustainable and built around providing the best care possible instead of trying to bring in more patients to make up for revenue shortages.
This type of growth is sustainable, helps avoid staff burnout, and helps you focus on the important work of keeping your community healthy.
- Word of mouth matters! But it looks different in 2022.
71% of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor, and those online reviews are often the first impression a new patient will get of your practice.
As potential new patients begin their search for a new physician, online is their first, and often only, stop. Getting your happy patients to leave positive reviews is one of the most powerful things you can do to create growth for your practice. When your practice shows up online with dozens of glowing reviews, you begin to build trust with your potential patients before they even make their first appointment.
One of the easiest ways to increase the number of positive reviews is simply to ask for them! Make it a part of your standard operating procedures for reception staff to remind patients to leave a review online as they are checking them out, and then implement an automated system with reminders to leave a review. The flow could include:
- In person requests for reviews
- A follow-up request for review via email
- A review request included in appointment reminder emails and texts
- A link to review on your website
- Occasional social media requests for reviews
- Don’t be afraid of social media
Social media is a powerful tool for growing your practice! It may seem intimidating, but keeping it simple and focusing on just one or two platforms, can create a large impact.
Focus on creating content that your potential patients would be interested in. According to Forbes, this generally means content about conditions, treatments, and FAQs. Your objective in managing your social media pages shouldn’t be just to gain followers, but instead to attract new potential patients and establish a good reputation in the online space. Pick topics you’re familiar with and subjects that allow you to quickly and easily create content from your current wealth of knowledge.
With just one or two social platforms under your belt, and a modest advertising budget, you can build a social media brand that establishes your practice as a trusted expert for treatment in your community.
Which one of these tips do you want to try for the new year?
Burnout Busting in Healthcare
As we come out of the years-long pandemic and explore new routines, habits, and workplace cultures, employee burnout has become less of a buzzword in the healthcare sphere, but the problem has not gone away. A survey taken in late 2021 found that 38% of healthcare workers were experiencing PSTD, 74% suffered from depression, and 75% coped with anxiety.
New procedures have been implemented over the last two years in the healthcare space, and as protocols change, technology changes, and healthcare administrators find themselves managing new protocols and remote teams across the country, we decided it would be a good time to revisit burnout busting in the healthcare field with some of our favorite and most practical burnout busting tips!
- Provide access to helpful and evidence based resources
Burnout is less of a mystery now than it was decades ago when the term was coined, and research has taught us a lot about what options truly make a difference for overwhelmed staff.
While flashy burnout busting ideas like a staff yoga retreat sound trendy, research shows that tangible benefits such as paid sick leave and explicit encouragement from supervisors provide better burnout busting benefits.
Ensuring your employees understand their treatment options, and how to access psychiatric treatment through their insurance or other organizational arrangements is vital. Knowing where they can turn for help empowers your employees to seek treatment when they need it and discussing available treatment options openly as a staff is not only practical but also helps destigmatize those treatments in the workplace.
- Advocate for your employees
One big factor in successfully preventing or coping with burnout is support. When your team feels support from leadership, they feel like their place of employment is a safe space and that they are a priority, not an afterthought.
There are many ways you can advocate for your employees, protecting their mental, emotional and physical health while on the job.
Implement realistic sick leave and paid time off policies
This lets your employees know their physical health is important, and their emotional well-being and quality of life matters too. Simply taking a break can help prevent burnout and creating policies that give your employees the opportunity to take these breaks makes a big difference.
Create realistic staffing policies
Workload is a big factor in burnout. By building an organizational structure and staffing policies that require you to have enough employees to efficiently accomplish the work at hand, it protects your whole team from burnout caused by overworking.
Support their boundaries
When an employee feels overwhelmed with work, they may feel that the solution is to work more in an attempt to catch up. But in reality, this often creates the opposite effect, draining your employee physically and mentally. If you notice a team member struggling with burnout, take the time to discuss their work-life balance and their boundaries. Leadership initiating a conversation about healthy boundaries sets the tone for your entire healthcare organization’s culture and ensuring that you do not expect your employees to answer their phone or email when they are not on the clock can provide relief to stressed out employees and help them feel like their boundaries and normal and healthy, and not a sign of laziness.
Ask them what’s causing their burnout
Talking to your employees is a simple step, but incredibly important. Ask them how they feel about their workload or what changes they would make to their responsibilities. This will provide insight into your team, and clear communication could reveal a problem in the workplace infrastructure or operating procedures that can easily be remedied.
- Build a great team
Building a great team is more than just hiring talented staff. Be sure you’re hiring enough staff! And then make the most of your team. Spreading the workload out across multiple employees helps prevent burnout and makes the best use of the talent on your team.
Are there tasks that can be removed from a clinician’s workload and placed on the shoulders of an administrative team? Can you organize extended teams to support physicians and nurses handling documentation and scheduling? Would outsourcing some of the current daily operations help strengthen your team, lessen their stress and increase their productivity without burning out? Check out this blog covering the top reasons to consider outsourcing your billing or contact Practice Management to see if this service would be a good fit for your team. Think creatively about your team, and you may just find new ways to build your bench of talent and protect your current employees!
- Be realistic in your timelines
Keeping a schedule is vital in the healthcare world but be realistic when you are creating these deadlines. Allow time for what matters, like time with patients and creating real connections. Valuing people over productivity gives your patients and your staff the time they need to create trusting relationships and deliver quality care.
- Use technology
Technology is a vital part of healthcare work in 2022! Selecting the right EHR and spending time developing streamlined and efficient standard operating procedures that utilize the most helpful technology available to your health center saves time and stress on your team! Be picky about your software, seek input from the individuals using it every day, and consider regularly surveying your staff to gain insight into which procedures are working and which are sucking away valuable time and adding stress to daily operations. For example, Hawaii Pacific Health’s “Getting Rid of Stupid Stuff” program asks employees to submit poorly designed EHR tasks regularly, and one suggested change ended up saving about 1,700 nursing hours per month!
Taking care of your team now is an investment in the future success of your employees and your healthcare organization. Busting burnout in the healthcare field will continue to be an important part of taking care of your team and your community!
Revenue Cycle Management vs. Medical Billing: What’s the Difference?
We all know money is important in the healthcare sphere – you want your healthcare organization to be financially healthy so you can invest properly in your staff, your programs, and your community. But financial health is bigger than just your billing – financial health encompasses your entire revenue cycle and your management of that cycle. But how exactly is revenue cycle management different from medical billing? And when is revenue cycle management right for you and your team? Let’s talk about it!
What is medical billing?
This question is relatively simple to answer. Medical billing is the process of submitting claims for services you have provided to patients, and then following up on those claims. It includes the process of reviewing claims, gathering data, and resubmitting rejected claims.
This process can be incredibly slow, and many practices will have entire billing departments or will outsource for their medical billing needs.
But even though billing can be complex and time consuming, it doesn’t truly provide the full picture of your revenue and overall financial stability. That is where revenue cycle management comes in.
What is the difference between medical billing and revenue cycle management?
Who remembers the term “A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square”?
Revenue cycle management (RCM) and medical billing are a little like the rectangle and the square. Medical billing is a part of revenue cycle management, but RCM goes above and beyond. RCM encompasses all the financial processes surrounding medical encounters, and includes processes like scheduling, credentialing, contracting, collections, patient portals and more. The goal of effective RCM is to examine all clinical and administrative tasks that work together to help your healthcare center successfully book appointments, bill patients, and collect payments.
RCM focuses on four big-picture areas:
- All the ways your practice generates revenue
- All the ways you capture revenue through patient payments
- All the ways you capture revenue through insurance collections
- Learning how to improve your cycles and change processes to fill any gaps through regular reporting
The main way healthcare centers generate revenue is by providing services. In order to be able to provide services to individuals and families in your community, it is vital that your physicians and other providers are credentialed and contracted correctly (and stay that way!) with the insurance companies you will be billing.
RCM should also take into consideration the patient experience when trying to make and keep an appointment at your practice. Can they schedule an appointment online, or do they have to call into your center? Are your appointment times flexible, taking into consideration single parent families and older patients? Do you provide appointment reminders via email, call or text? The easier it is for your patients to get in to see your providers, the easier it will be for you to help them stay healthy.
Collecting patient payments is another area traditional billing may gloss over, but it’s an important part of revenue cycle management. This can be one of the most difficult parts of capturing revenue, because once a patient leaves your office, collecting payment from them becomes exponentially more difficult.
Training your staff on how to collect in-person is a part of RCM, as is implementing standard policies and procedures on when and how client statements are delivered. Effective RCM would also consider implementing a user-friendly patient portal that allows individuals to pay their balance online.
As you can see, RCM isn’t just about collecting the payments, it’s about examining the policies and procedures that will help your staff collect all the revenue your healthcare organization is earning.
Download our “Making Patient Payments Easier” guide here for some ideas on how to tackle the intimidating world of patient collections.
This is the part of RCM that everyone is likely the most familiar with – the medical billing! This encompasses ensuring all the services provided are coded correctly, all claims are submitted in a timely manner, and that any denials are corrected and resubmitted to ensure maximum revenue collection.
Another key difference between billing services and revenue cycle management is the post-reporting and regular procedural adjusting. Regular reporting is a vital part of RCM as it allows you to take a closer look at what procedures are working and identify where the weakest links in your cycle are. Custom reports built just for your organization allow you to improve the existing systems and processes, which will remove stress from your staff, simplify office procedures, save valuable time, improve patient experience, and ultimately, maximize the revenue you are bringing in the door.
When is revenue cycle management right for your healthcare center?
Revenue cycle management reflects the ever-changing healthcare system here in the United States. Billing is no longer just a back-office effort – it now involves administrative staff, clinicians and other providers, as well as patient procedures and office processes. But it may not be the right fit for every practice.
Smaller private practice clinicians may not need the robust, big-picture view that RCM provides. However, if you are a healthcare organization that is ready to grow, RCM could create a huge impact. Bringing in an RCM partner can help you critically examine your procedures and begin to collect the revenue that will help you grow your programs and reinvest in the community you serve.
Staffing changes could be another reason that RCM is right for you. If you previously conducted your billing in-house but have recently experienced staffing changes and are struggling to grow your billing team to keep up with the demands of your organization, outsourcing your RCM can help relieve overburdened staff and open their time to other critical tasks.
RCM isn’t for everyone – but it could be right for you!
There are lots of software options that provide the framework for RCM and allow for your organization to tackle its own robust RCM! But sometimes, using these programs to their fullest, especially when dealing with complex codes and billing procedures, may require more manpower or expertise than your staff has available. If you are faced with some of the challenges mentioned above, or feel that your revenue cycle management could improve, finding an RCM partner that can use the system you are already working in is an important step.
Check out Practice Management today to see if our suite of RCM services can help you maximize your revenue, improve your processes and procedures, and get your revenue where it belongs – re-invested into your team, your technology, and the communities your serve!
Already have an RCM process in place, but wondering if it could be improved? Check out our consulting here!
Creating a Company Culture of Self-Care
Nobody enjoys being pushed to their breaking point, but in 2022, as many healthcare organizations struggle to catch up with projects put on the backburner during the height of the pandemic, address staffing changes as seasoned staff leave their positions and are replaced with greener employees, and face a greater need for their services than ever before, burnout has become the word of the day. Creating a company culture of self-care can help prevent burnout, but it’s really about something bigger. A company culture of self-care lives beyond the next few months and reaches past the pandemic recovery years, well into the future of your healthcare center, protecting your hardworking team now and attracting top talent later.
So, what exactly is a company culture of self-care, and how do we create it in the healthcare space? Let’s dive in!
Company culture is defined as “how you do what you do in the workplace.” Indeed describes it as the personality of a company. And SHRM.org outlines the different elements that make up a company’s culture as:
- Human nature – What qualities do people in your organization possess? Are they kind? Ambitious? Proactive or reactive?
- Emotions – What emotions are employees encouraged to express and which ones are discouraged or seen as not fit for the workplace?
- Effectiveness – How does your organization measure success?
Clearly, company culture is multifaceted, develops over time, and there are many different factors to consider as your grow and shape your organization’s culture. But bringing self-care in as a wing of your company culture can have long-lasting benefits on your team.
Well-being in the Workplace
Many workplaces have what are known as “Wellness Programs” – we’ve all probably received those free pedometers to wear around the office, competing for steps to win a coveted coffee shop gift card. But in 2022, these wellness programs are taking on new life. A survey conducted by Fidelty and the Business Group on Health found that 83% of employers surveyed would be making employee well-being a critical focus in 2022. They planned to build these programs around mental health, physical health, and work-life balance efforts.
Healthcare Workers and a Culture of Self-Care
Healthcare workers have entered a field dedicated to taking care of others, and there are many healthcare workers that don’t feel they have the time, resources or energy to dedicate to taking care of themselves. Administrators are overworked and providers are overwhelmed. Creating a company culture of self-care will make it easier for your employees to care for themselves in the long-term, and when the company prioritizes its employees, they are able to do their jobs better.
So, how do we do that for our healthcare teams? Each organization will be different but here are a few ideas to try with your team:
- Invest in your employees
Employee wellness programs can be a form of investing in your team. Doing the research and dedicating the time to craft a useful employee wellness program that fits the structure of your organization and motivates your team to take advantage of the resources available can create real change.
In addition, offer programs that pay for certifications and continuing education. These make your employees feel valued and can help them get out of the office for a much-needed change of scenery while allowing them to work on something that makes them feel accomplished. Investing in your employee’s growth shows them you care about their future, teaches them investing in themselves is something your healthcare center celebrates, and will increase your employee retention.
- Benefits matter
Not every healthcare center has the budget for extravagant benefit packages but consider offering more than just a salary. Providing benefits in the form of stipends, bonuses, paid time off, or even a flexible work schedule can go a long way towards giving your employees the breaks they need and attracting more talent to your organization. Additionally, show your employees that these benefits are meant to be used. Some companies have amazing benefits that employees never use because their company culture implicitly discourages things like taking your vacation days off or calling in your flextime when you need a break. Encouraging your team to use their benefits shows them your company culture values self-care and the wellbeing of your people over the bottom line.
- Lighten the load
Being overworked is a huge factor contributing to healthcare staff burnout, so look for ways to lighten the load on your staff. If you have the budget to hire new employees and grow your team, move that to the top of your to-do list. Growing your team is a great way to boost morale and lighten the load on your current staff.
If hiring isn’t an option right now, look at ways you can redistribute the workload. Are there certain tasks that leadership may be handling that could be passed down to a different employee? Can you offer administrative staff more variety in their tasks, giving them different areas to learn in?
Another option is outsourcing tasks to free up time for your current employees. Many organizations worry that outsourcing may cost jobs by replacing their current employees. However, outsourcing is more about optimizing than replacing. By handing a process, such as your medical billing or revenue cycle management, off to experts, you are freeing up your current staff to focus on more pressing issues and increasing their bandwidth, along with maximizing your revenue. Many billing companies, like Practice Management, take their payments from a percentage of the revenue they collect for your healthcare center, so you’re at no risk of losing money. If you’re interested in learning more about our billing services, check out this page or contact us here.
Communicate with your team daily. Make this communication open, informal, and collaborative. Think of this like a pre-game huddle for your day and use the time to set your team goals, ask for concerns, check in with your team emotionally, and praise successes. Listen more than you talk. This type of communication shows your employees they matter, and they should feel free to express their needs to their leaders. Keeping these lines of communication open throughout the day will foster a company culture, or personality, that encourages teamwork and doesn’t shame employees for needing to care for themselves.
- Talk about boundaries
When an employee falls behind, they may feel like working longer hours is the solution, and some companies push that narrative on their teams. However, working overtime all the time usually has the opposite effect and decreases an employee’s productivity, rushing them towards burnout even faster. Discussing boundaries openly with your staff shows them saying no is okay, and that your healthcare center wants a team that takes care of themselves while taking care of others. Practical ways to encourage this kind of culture would be to encourage your employees to take their lunch breaks every day and to truly clock-out mentally when they’re off the clock. Make it clear that your expectations are not longer hours, but accomplishing what they can while maintaining boundaries.
These five tips should help you look at the culture of your healthcare center and see ways you can move the needle towards a company culture of self-care. These tactics will not change everything overnight but putting in the work long-term will slowly but surely move your company culture in the right direction, protecting your staff now and making your healthcare center the kind of place attracts top talent in the future.
The Modern Patient – How to Navigate Patient Experience in a Digital World
The world we live in today is a digital space. Increasingly more of our daily tasks can be completed from the comfort of our couch through the screens of our smartphones, from grocery shopping to job applications to business meetings, and the healthcare space is no exception. As a healthcare provider, how can you navigate patient communication in a digital world? What effect does digital access have on patient payments and your revenue cycle management? This month, we’re diving into these topics and offering ideas on keeping up with the latest tech best practices at your healthcare center.
Your Patients are your Customers
The world of retail and customer service prioritizes experience to ensure that their customers return for their product or service again and again and that repeat purchases are easy to make. These business owners think through every step of their client experience and constantly update their products and portals to maintain a seamless and positive experience for their paying customers. As healthcare providers, thinking of your patients as customers can help you understand all the barriers they might face when it comes to obtaining their healthcare or completing their payments.
Conceptualizing a visit to your healthcare center from the point of view of a paying customer AND a patient can lead towards a more positive experience for the individuals and families you care for and can increase your revenue by making patient payments easier to complete. Check out our guide on making patient payments easier, written by Practice Management President John Zulaski.
Telehealth is Here to Stay
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth became the primary way individuals received routine healthcare, particularly behavioral health services, and while request for telehealth services has declined as the pandemic waxes and wanes, there are still many patients that prefer a virtual option. And it works! A study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that telehealth interventions reduced mortality and hospital admissions in chronic conditions like cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
Integrating a hybrid approach to your practice, especially if you provide mental health services, lowers your overhead, reduces no-shows, and provides much-desired flexibility to your patients. However, collecting patient payment can feel tricky with telehealth services, so be sure you provide your patients with an easy way to pay online.
Online Portals are the New Patient Experience Standard
Buying things online is no longer considered a luxury convenience, but a standard option for all services. Providing your patients with an easy way to pay bills, update their information, and schedule appointments online increases your collection volume and reduces your administrative overhead. Check out one of the portal options we implement with some of our clients here.
Patients want Payment Options – Staff Education is the Key
According to a research report sponsored by Synchrony, 45% of all U.S. adult patients surveyed would be interested in using some kind of payment plan in the future.
There are multiple options for patient payment plans, from companies like CareCredit to in-house payment plans, but ensuring that every staff member understands the options available to patients is vital. All staff, from physicians to administrators, need to be able to offer patients an explanation of their options up front, depending on who a patient interacts with before, during or after receiving their treatment. Doing this will help patients feel informed and less anxious about their medical costs. It can also improve your collection rate as a healthcare center by enabling patients to set up these payment plans early and begin making payments immediately.
If you are interested in learning how revenue cycle management with Practice Management not only maximizes your revenue, but also provides a top-notch patient experience, contact us here! We would love to discuss your unique needs with you and build a plan that fits your organization.
Top Tips to Boost your Productivity and Protect your Wellbeing!
Medical billing work requires intense attention to detail, diligence, and a passion for helping our clients grow to their maximum potential. The clients we work with also need to stay productive, working hard to keep their communities healthy!
Healthcare workers, both direct care workers and administrators like our billing team, all have long to-do lists and packed work weeks, but self-care and personal wellbeing cannot be ignored. Culturally, our workforce is obsessed with productivity, but here at Practice Management, we focus on productivity without burnout. This month, we wanted to share some of our favorite, and surprising, ways to make sure you and your team stay productive while also taking care of yourself.
1. Can this meeting be an email?
The trope of “this meeting could have been an email” has been repeatedly memed and joked about in the last few years, and we agree! Meetings are an important part of professional teamwork, but when used incorrectly, they can stifle productivity. One survey found that 67% of workers feel spending too much time in meetings keeps them from making an impact in their workplace. Having less meetings and more one-on-one collaborative conversations can not only boost productivity, but also save valuable time for your team.
2. Take short, frequent breaks
When facing deadlines, our first instinct might be to skip our breaks and work through lunch. But research suggests that 90 is the magic number – working for 90 minutes before taking a short 15–20-minute break helped people focus and keep their energy up. Another survey found that 52 minutes before a break produced the best results in the top 10% most productive workers. Either way – do not skip that break!
3. Delegate and collaborate!
Our employee team is just that – a team, designed to work together. If you are overwhelmed with too much on your plate, turn to a teammate and delegate. For this to work, teams need to have transparency about their workloads and trust their colleagues. Leaders can set an example by both delegating their own tasks as needed and offering to complete tasks for their employees when they are able. Fostering a community of teamwork and collaboration can empower your workforce to speak up when they need help, and delegating can increase the productivity of your entire team.
4. Automate where you can
Many tasks need to be completed by an employee. They require human attention to ensure they are completed correctly. However, if you find yourself repeating one or two simple tasks over and over throughout your work week, automation may help boost your productivity. Identifying the tasks that can be automated effectively ticks items off your to-do list and clears your mind so you can focus on tasks that require your specific expertise.
5. Build your day around your internal rhythms and use time blocks
While we may all share common workday hours, we are each unique when it comes to productivity during those hours. If you are familiar with the concept of Night Owls versus Early Birds, you probably are not surprised to learn that each of us have our own unique circadian rhythms. Identify the time of day when you personally are at your most productive, and structure your day around that. For example, if you are a morning person and really get going from 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., block out that time for some of your more demanding or creative tasks and leave a chunk of your afternoon for slogging through emails or sitting in meetings you are not leading. Understanding and hacking into your own brain’s rhythms can help you maximize your motivation and accomplish more in the same amount of time.
Something else we love to use is time blocks. This refers to blocking out chunks of your calendar based on specific tasks. Knowing that you have blocked out an hour at the end of the day for emails helps you silence your alerts during the morning while you tackle that big project you are working on. Separating your day by projects and tasks also helps provide structure, which we love!
6. Chew gum
Keep chewing gum at your desk and dip into your stash when you need some extra focus. Chewing gum has been found to speed up your reaction time, boost cognitive abilities and help you stay alert.
Meditation has become a hot topic in the workplace wellness space recently, and there are a host of benefits associated with meditation and increased productivity. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, calm the mind, and enhance creativity. Meditating does not need to be time consuming or difficult. Try a simple breathing exercise or search for a short, guided meditation on YouTube to gain some benefits during your workday.
8. Build a list, then do the hardest thing first
A good to-do list can work wonders for productivity! Whether you prefer pen and paper or a more technological approach, there is a solution out there that will work for you. Regardless of how you build your list, experts say you should tackle the hardest task first. Getting the least appealing task off your list first will help you stay motivated through your less energetic afternoon hours because the hardest thing is already done!
9. Set boundaries
Boundaries are of great benefit to mental health. Setting boundaries on your time and communicating them with your team can help you stay focused on projects you need to accomplish and boost your productivity at work. If there are certain hours you need to block out for a project or certain hours you would like to make yourself available for questions and collaboration, block those out on your calendar and let your team know. This will help cut down on unnecessary distractions, which research shows can take 23 minutes to recover from.
While it may seem counterintuitive, sometimes the best way to get more work done is to stop working. One study of 4,188 U.S. workers found “significantly worse productivity, performance and safety outcomes.” All-nighters are often praised as a sign of dedication and hard work, but next time you face a looming all-nighter, it might just be that the best thing you could do is to go home, get a good night of sleep, and come back refreshed and ready to go in the morning.
Which of these productivity tips do you use? Which ones are new to you?
Share this article with your coworkers and let us know what tips your employee team will implement.
If you’re thinking about implementing tip #3 and want to know how delegating your billing to Practice Management would benefit your healthcare organization, check out our Revenue Cycle Management services here or send us an email here.