The steep cost of electronic health record systems in today's market makes it imperative that you realize a timely return on investment. Heidi Jannenga, co-founder and COO, and Paul Winandy, CEO, of physical therapy software WebPT, outline five areas in which you can achieve financial gains after implementing an EHR.
- Increased patient volume. Once the implementation stage is over, the time typically spent on documentation with paper records can now be spent seeing more patients. And according to Jannenga and Winandy, workflow is an important aspect of spending less time on documentation. “The workflow [needs to] match that of a practicing therapist or physician,” said Jannenga.
- Decreased no-shows. Significant reduction in missed appointments leads to a better bottom line, said Jannenga, with studies proving the impact of automating the reminder process through texts, e-mails, etc. “Cancel and no-show ratios are a key performance indicator to look at because if they can cancel, that no-show rate can decrease and the arrival rate can increase and increase revenue,” she added. ”This is something most clinics are in tune with. If they can improve that by 30 percent, for example, that’s a big gain out of the gate.”
- Increased staff and claims processing efficiency. An efficient EHR system can also eventually mean less time filing, faxing, retrieving charts and moving documents. “Processing claims means claims are paid faster,” added Winandy. “And, before changing from paper, you have charts in multiple locations. It’s the time spent retrieving that chart; you need to have everything in one place. If you can access [a chart] from anywhere, that person who needs the record [can have it] in seconds or minutes.”
- Lowered hardware or IT costs. This is true if the system is a cloud-based EMR, said Winnandy. “The cloud can work on any Internet device, and you can access it at home on a laptop or on a smartphone,” he said. “Cloud-based systems are where the IT industry is going.”
- Improved reimbursements with legible, more compliant documentation. According to Jannenga, compliance is a significant issue. “With Medicare in the news right now and RAC audits, physicians and therapists are under that same scrutiny,” she said. “Many clinics rely on Medicare patients for income, and insurances tend to follow the track of Medicare; if they implement different requirements, most insurances will follow suit.” And when it comes to your EHR, she said, they have to create meaningful use, half of which is addressing compliance issues. “Alerts make sure you’re putting in the right type of document to satisfy requirements,” she said. “No one can police you that way if you’re writing on paper.” Another added bonus? “[Caregivers] aren’t known for their penmanship,” she said. “Legible documentation can be huge to submit to insurance companies – if they can’t read it, they’re not going to pay.”
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