Monthly Archives: July 2018

Physicians Complete Guide to Chronic Care Management

        Senior citizens with one or more chronic conditions have a hard time managing their health. CMS was spending a lot of money on patient’s insurance who were suffering from chronic conditions. In order to cut down the expenses on hospital admissions, the CMS introduced the Chronic Care Management program. Patients usually visit their physicians for chronic care once or twice a year. With a Chronic Care Management program, a patient’s health improves due to increased attention and care. They can also spend less time on health issues and more on what they like to do.

What is Chronic Care Management?

Medicare defines Chronic Care Management program as non-face-to-face service provided to its beneficiaries with multiple (two or more) significant chronic conditions. In addition to office visits and other face-to-face encounters (billed separately), these services include

  • Communication with the patient
  • Health professionals being available both electronically and by phone for care coordination, medication management, and being accessible to patients.

Time-consuming process

Despite the increased Medicare reimbursement rates, patients do not get CCM services due to the physician’s time constraints. Chronic Care Management program requires a lot of time and effort from the physician. Unfortunately, providers must meet a number of requirements to qualify for a CCM Medicare reimbursement. These include:  

  • Twenty minutes of non-face-to-face conversation per month with the patient
  • Use of a certified EHR
  • Create a patient care plan based on the assessments and available resources
  • Provide the patient with a copy of the monthly updated care plan and document the same in the EHR
  • Ensure that the care plan is available electronically to anyone within the practice providing CCM services
  • Share the care plan electronically outside the practice as appropriate  
  • Ensure 24/7 access to care management services
  • Ensure continuity of care with a designated practitioner or member of the care team who will take care of successive routine appointments

The list goes on at considerable length defining the care practice must give. The fact sheet offered by the CMS goes up to eleven pages with multiple requirements to bill for CPT code 99490. This can become quite cumbersome for any practice, considering that the Medicare reimbursements are only $42.60/patient/month.

Steps to improve the Chronic Care Management program

1.Building a strong team

If a practice chooses to offer CCM services, it will be an investment. The demands include

  • Additional staffing with additional salaries,
  • Benefits and increased workload for management.
  • Additional office space depending on your current facility
  • It is important for the practice to set up a plan of action to calculate the required additional staff members required and the exact cost of this service. The practice must,
  • Start by assessing how many patients in the practice will be eligible to receive CCM services. 
  • Identify how many people are needed to give quality CCM services to their patients and also additional salaries and benefits, added office space, etc.
  • It is important to analyze the merits and demerits from a financial perspective. Even if a practice is not profiting from CCM in the first stages, it is always possible to derive profit later.

2.Outsourcing Chronic Care Management services

Many private practices and hospitals who want to offer CCM services but cannot the implementation process can opt for outsourcing their CCM. There are vendors who provide this service and understand the new requirements better for reimbursement eligibility. In essence, they become an extension of the practice and require minimal financial investment from the provider. By this, the practice can manage the risk factors, patient experience, and profit better. A study on outsourcing chronic care management for diabetes patients found that those who participated in the outsourced care,

  • Rated the experience more positively
  • Demonstrated better clinical outcomes than those who received clinic-based care

3.Using a Chronic Care Management software

Chronic Care Management software can reduce the time and the manual effort spent in giving the CCM services. HealthViewX Chronic Care Management solution has the following features that make the process simpler,

  • Inbuilt audio, video calling and messaging features – HealthViewX Chronic Care Management solution has inbuilt video and audio calling features. It helps in giving Chronic Care Management services to their patients. Secure messaging is also available through which the physicians and the patients can communicate.
  • Automated call log feature – After a call, care plan creation or any action related to CCM health services, the system automatically adds call logs. It reduces the physician’s manual effort is logging the call logs.
  • Preventive Care plans – HealthViewX solution supports care plans for the Chronic Care Management service for a patient. The physician can create a care plan depending on the patient’s health report. It helps in monitoring the patient’s vitals.
  • Chronic Care Management Analytics – Dashboards with intuitive charts and tables give complete analytics of the Chronic Care Management services. It provides a clear picture of the revenue perspective.
  • Consolidated Report – The physician can generate a consolidated report of the Chronic Care Management services given for a particular period. This makes it easy for the billing practitioner for getting the Medicare reimbursements.
  • HIPAA compliance – HealthViewX Chronic Care Management is HIPAA-compliant. It facilitates secure data exchange. The solution manages all patient-related documents securely.

A healthcare practice following the above steps will find significant improvement in their Chronic Care Management program. HealthViewX Chronic Care Management software has features that suit practices as well as CCM vendors. To know more about our Chronic Care Management solution, schedule a demo with us.

 

References

Wolf, M. S., Seligman, H., Davis, T. C., Fleming, D. A., Curtis, L. M., Pandit, A. U., … & DeWalt, D. A. (2014). Clinic-Based Versus Outsourced Implementation of a Diabetes Health Literacy Intervention. Journal of general internal medicine, 29(1), 59-67.

Improving Patient Referral Management Workflow Between Federally Qualified Health Centers & Specialists Clinics/Imaging Centers

Federally Qualified Health Centers and what do they do

A Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) is a community-based organization that provides comprehensive primary care and preventive care, including health, oral, and mental health/substance abuse services to persons of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay or health insurance status. Thus, they are a critical component of the health care safety net. FQHCs are called Community/Migrant Health Centers (C/MHC), Community Health Centers (CHC), and 330 Funded Clinics. FQHCs are automatically designated as health professional shortage facilities. a non-profitable, consumer-directed healthcare organization. FQHC serves the underserved, underinsured and uninsured people, and provides them with access to high quality and preventive medical health care. FQHCs were originally meant to provide comprehensive health services to the medically underserved to reduce the patient load on hospital emergency rooms.

FQHCs include community health centers, migrant health centers, health care for the homeless health centers, public housing primary care centers, and health center program “look-alikes.” They also include outpatient health programs or facilities operated by a tribe or tribal organization or by an urban Indian organization. FQHCs are paid based on the FQHC Prospective Payment System (PPS) for medically-necessary primary health services and qualified preventive health services furnished by an FQHC practitioner.

Their mission has changed since their founding. Their mission now is to enhance primary care services in underserved urban and rural communities

Patient Referral Management in Federally Qualified Health Centers

Federally Qualified Health Centers comprises of PCPs who offer primary health care services and related services to residents of a defined geographic area that is medically underserved. Many patients visit a PCP in a day. Federally Qualified Health Centers do not have the facilities for giving specialized treatments or for taking advanced tests. So, when a patient requires any specialist medical attention, the PCP refers him/her to the most suitable imaging center or specialty practice.

Federally Qualified Health Centers mostly refer their patients out of the network. The referral workflow from the perspective of a referring provider is as follows.

  • The PCP sends the referral through the EHR/EMR to the referral coordination team.
  • The referral coördinator will study the patient demographics and understand the required diagnosis.
  • The team coordinates for insurance preauthorization to cover the medical expenses for the required treatment/services.
  • Based on these, the referral coordinator will find the right specialist or imaging center for further diagnosis.
  • After finding the right specialist or imaging center, the patient details are sent out as a referral.
  • Community Health Systems sends referrals through various sources like phone, fax, email, etc.
  • The referral coordinator chooses the source depending on the receiving provider’s convenience.

The gap between the Federally Qualified Health Center and specialty care

A referral process may become inefficient and ineffective if the Federally Qualified Health Centers and the specialty clinics/imaging centers fail to communicate. When there is no proper communication from the specialty centers/imaging centers the community healthcare network finds it difficult to understand the progress of the referral. Let us see it from different perspectives to understand why there is a communication gap.      

  • From a referring provider’s perspective, the referral coordinator receives and processes many referrals every day. After sending out a referral, it is very difficult to follow-up with it manually. There are no effective and secure means of communication between the referring and the receiving providers. If the receiving provider or the patient fails to update the progress of a referral to the referring provider, he/she will never get to know what happened with the referral. Closing the referral loop becomes nearly impossible in this case.
  • From a receiving provider’s perspective, the referral he/she receives may contain incomplete information. Without vital details, processing the referral will be difficult. The source of referral are many but there is no single interface to manage it all. Missing out on referrals is common. There is no way of getting a consolidated data on the number of referrals missed and the number processed. Patient referral leakage becomes imminent if the referrals remain unprocessed for a long time.
  • From a patient’s perspective, the physician refers him/her to take tests in an imaging center and then meet a specialist to continue with the treatment. If the patient has to communicate back and forth between the referring and the receiving providers for incomplete information, history of illness, etc, it annoys the patient. It is frustrating for the patient to communicate between the two ends.

Referrals become incomplete, inefficient and ineffective when the participants fail to communicate and share timely information.

Guidelines to bridge the gap between Federally Qualified Health Centers and Specialist Clinics/ Imaging Centers

  1. The referring provider must understand the reason for the referral. The referring provider should also make the patient understand why a referral is necessary and what the patient can expect from the referral visit. Give time for questions and encourage the patient to clarify their doubts during the referral appointment.
  2. When the referral coordinator does the insurance pre-authorization, he/she must make sure that the receiving provider covers the insurance policy of the patient. This will keep the patient better informed of how much the service will cost.
  3. It is better for the referral coordinator to contact the specialist directly. He/She can give information about the patient’s current situation, as well as other medical records, test results, and documents to avoid duplication of effort.
  4. Both the sides have to agree on the urgency of the referral and discuss the duration of the process, frequency of referral updates and the mode of communication.
  5. Any tool that can give prompt reminders on the appointments, follow-ups to both the patient and the receiving providers can help.
  6. After the referral reports arrive, the provider must check the results and recommendations. If the referring provider cannot understand the specialist’s evaluation, he should contact the specialist to understand the diagnosis better.
  7. Referral is an important part of patient care but the patients are not obligated to follow-up with the specialist. If the referral isn’t completed, the referring provider must talk to the patient during the next visit to find out why. Documenting this can help in directing future referrals to the right specialist or imaging center.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution communicates effectively between the referring and the receiving ends. The timeline view and referral status help in tracking the referral. Prompt reminders will never let you miss an appointment or follow-up. To know our solution better, schedule a demo with us.

Why Is Documenting A Medical Referral Not Easy For A Federally Qualified Health Center?

How does referral works in a Federally Qualified Health Center?

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)  are private, non-profit organizations that directly or indirectly (through contracts and cooperative agreements) provide primary health services and related services to residents of a defined geographic area that is medically underserved. Federally Qualified Health Centers are high referral outbound centers, who send out a number of referrals in a day. A Federally Qualified Health Center has many PCPs who attend to numerous patients with different health problems. The PCP initiates referrals when the patient needs an additional diagnosis from an imaging center or a specialist practice. The following are the steps through which a referral flows,

  1. Referral Initiation – The referring provider gives the details of the patient and diagnosis to the central referral coordinating team. A referral coordinator will study the demographics of the patient and the diagnosis required.
  2. Insurance Pre-authorization – If the patient has an insurance coverage, the referral coordinator will validate the same. This step helps in finding out which imaging center or specialist practice will cover the medical expenses.
  3. Finding the right provider – Depending on the treatment required, insurance coverage, patient’s convenience, the referral coordinator will narrow down the search and find the right receiving provider for the referral.
  4. Sending out the referral – After finding the right provider, patient information and the diagnosis details are shared while referring. The physicians can share the information via phone, fax, email, etc depending on the source that suits the receiving provider.

Medical referral history documentation in Federally Qualified Health Centers

Referral history gives details of what has happened with the referral till date. The referral history is equally important to both the referring and receiving providers. Unfortunately, the receiving provider maintains this history through paper-based forms or EHR and it is not easily accessible to the referring provider. Documenting a medical referral is quite a challenge for the provider who initiates the referral. So what factors make it so tedious and challenging?

  • Physicians get busy – After the referral is initiated, the referring provider gets busy with other appointments and forgets about the referral until the receiving provider gives updates. Not to forget the receiving provider is also a specialist or from an imaging center who will also be busy. The receiving provider or the patient fails to communicate with the referring provider regarding the progress of the referral which makes it difficult to document the referral.
  • Lack of effective modes of communication – There is no effective platform to share patient’s sensitive data or communicate with the referring or receiving provider. The physicians are not available over calls or messages which makes the situation worse. There is a need for a standard HIPAA compliant application that the referring and receiving providers can use to share information which helps in referral documentation.
  • Manual effort making the referral process tedious – The referral process has manual intervention at every stage. This frustrates the providers and the referral coordinating team. Giving timely updates to the referring provider regarding a referral is too much of effort for the receiving provider. Documenting the referral manually becomes a challenge.

Why document a medical referral?

  • Patient’s need – The patient may come to the clinic at any time looking for the medical history of the referral. At that point, the clinic should be able to give the patient the medical referral history. So documenting a referral becomes a necessary process.
  • Clinic’s records for future reference – It is important for a Federally Qualified Health Center to maintain a history of its patient’s demographics and referral records. If the patient comes back to the clinic with an illness, these records will help in understanding the patient better and giving the best treatment the patient needs.
  • Direct future referrals – A history of medical referral records will help the physician in figuring out who responds quickly and who does not. The next time the physician sends out a referral, he/she will choose the most responsive and the most suitable receiving provider for the referral.

Information Technology to aid Federally Qualified Health Centers

Information Technology is transforming healthcare to a great extent. Documenting a medical referral is easy for a healthcare based software application like HealthViewX. HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution simplifies the referral process by the following steps,

  1. Referral Initiation – The patient demographics and diagnosis required are already in the application. The referral coordinator can create the referral through a simple three step form which includes insurance pre-authorization, finding the appropriate receiving provider with the help of  “smart search”, etc. The receiving provider is notified of the referral.
  2. Referral status and timeline view – With the status, a referral is tagged to, the referring provider can get to know in what stage the referral is. A timeline view shows a history of stages through which the referral has progressed.
  3. Referral and timeline view reports – The timeline view and the referral analytics data can be generated as a report in any form chosen.
  4. Referral closure and feedback – If the referral is completed, the status can be changed to closed. A feedback form is generated for the patient and the receiving provider. This can help the referring provider in making the referral process better next time.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution smoothes out the referral process and reduces the burden of the referring and the receiving ends of Federally Qualified Health Centers. Do you want to know more about HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution? Schedule a demo with us.

 

How can Federally Qualified Health Centers Ensure The Progress Of Patient Referrals?

What are Federally Qualified Health Centers and what they do?

Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the United States is a non-profit entity comprising of clinical care providers, that operate at comprehensive federal standards. The care providers in FQHC are a part of the country’s health care safety net, which is defined as a group of health centers, hospitals, and providers who are willing to provide services to the nation’s needy crowd, thus ensuring that comprehensive care is available to all, regardless of income or insurance status.  FQHC is a dominant model for providing integrated primary care and public health services to low-income and underserved population. There are two types of FQHCs, one receives federal funding under Section 330 of Public Health Service Act and the other meets all requirements applicable to federally funded health centers and is supported through state and local grants. To receive federal funding, FQHCs must meet the following requirements.

  • Be located in a federally designated medically underserved area (MUA) or serve medically underserved populations (MUP)
  • Provide comprehensive primary care
  • Adjust charges for health services on a sliding fee schedule according to patient income
  • Be governed by a community board of which a majority of members are patients at the FQHC

Federally Qualified Health Centers are community-based health care providers that receive funds from the HRSA Health Center Program to provide primary care services in underserved areas. They must meet a stringent set of requirements, including providing care on a sliding fee scale based on ability to pay and operating under a governing board that includes patients.

The scope of services of a Federally Qualified Health Center

  1. Basic Health Services
    • Health services related to family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, or gynecology that are furnished by physicians and where appropriate, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives;
    • Diagnostic laboratory and radiologic services;
    • Preventive health services
    • Emergency medical services;
    • Pharmaceutical services as may be appropriate for particular centers
  2. Referrals to providers of medical services and other health-related services ;
  3. Patient case management services (including counseling, referral, and follow-up services) and other services designed to assist health center patients in establishing eligibility for and gaining access to Federal, State, and local programs that provide or financially support the provision of medical, social, educational, or other related services;
  4. Services that enable individuals to use the services of the health center (including outreach and transportation services and, if a substantial number of the individuals in the population served by a center are of limited English-speaking ability, the services of appropriate personnel fluent in the language spoken by a predominant number of such individuals);
  5. Education of patients and the general population served by the health center regarding the availability and proper use of health services

Patient Referral Program in a Federally Qualified Health Center

Federally Qualified Health Centers constitute Primary Care Providers (PCP) who serve the underserved population. FQHCs are high outbound referral setups i.e they send out numerous referrals. A patient visits the clinic when he/she is suffering from an illness. Depending on the severity, the physician might refer the patient to an imaging center for further diagnosis or to a specialist practice for advanced treatments.

Any Federally Qualified Health Center is recommended to have a dedicated referral coordination team to send out referrals and ensure effective referral coordination. With the help of the patient demographics and diagnosis details available, the referral coordinator does the insurance prior authorization and finds the right imaging center or specialty practice for the patient. Following that, the coordinator creates a referral that includes the details of patient demographics and the required diagnosis. Then the referral is sent to the relevant imaging center or specialty practice.

Challenges faced

The referral creation involves tedious manual work due to the following reasons.

  • Finding the right specialist/imaging center – The number of imaging centers and specialist practices is increasing day-by-day. It takes a lot of time and effort for the referral coordinator to narrow down the referral coordinator’s search and find the right one.
  • Time Spent – As the referrals are handled manually, a referring coordinator spends about half-an-hour to one-hour for a creating referral on an average and even more time in following up the same.
  • No Updates –  After a referral is sent, both the referring and the receiving providers get busy. It is not possible for both of them to be updated on the referral progress. So the specialist/imaging center and the patient fail to update the clinic on the progress of the referral. This results in open referral loops.

Why are referral updates important to a Federally Qualified Health Center?

  1. The patient’s well being – Any physician would always want to check on his/her patients’ health. So it is essential for a provider to want to know if the receiving provider accepted the referral, scheduled an appointment with the patient, the patient recovery status, or how severe is the illness, etc.
  2. Referral loop closure– Open referrals are a result of the referring provider not getting to know the referral’s progress. The ultimate aim of a referral process is to give the patient better treatment. Closing a referral loop is very important because it indirectly proves that the patient was taken care of.
  3. Data Analytics – PCPs require concrete data of how many referrals were converted to an appointment by a specialty care or an imaging center. It will help in analyzing who responds quickly and to whom the PCP can direct future referrals.
  4. Referring to the right person – Depending on the progress of the referral and the patient’s feedback, the physician can get to know how good or bad the referral process has been. This will help the physician in knowing to whom he can refer and to whom he should not.
  5. Schedule follow-up appointments – After the referral is done, the physician has to schedule an appointment for the patient. For eg: If the physician is referring his patient to an imaging for X-ray, the physician must be notified once the test is done so that he can schedule an appointment and give treatment to his patient depending on the results. Structured appointments scheduled in a well-managed referral system is a constant source of new patient revenue.

Monitor your referral pipeline better with the HealthViewX solution

The major problem with an FQHC not getting updates is that everything is manual. A software solution can solve this problem quite easily. HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution enables creating a referral in three simple steps thus providing a successful referral program. After the referral is created, it can be tracked with help of the status. Both the referring and receiving providers will be notified of the appointments, test results, treatment recommendations, etc. HealthViewX can integrate with EMR/EHR and can also coordinate between the referring and the receiving sides. Any referral has a timeline view which is common to both the receiving and the referring providers. In the timeline view, history of the referral can be seen for eg: notes related to the patient’s health, previous status of the referral, etc. Documents attachment and status change can also be done at any time of the referral process. HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution can always keep you updated on the progress of the referral thus simplifying the referral process and helps in closing the referral loop.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution helps the referring provider to track the referral progress. Schedule a demo with us and our patient referral management experts will guide you through our HIPAA compliant solution.

 

Reference

(source:http://ldh.la.gov/index.cfm/page/797)