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Bridging The Gap Between Community Health Center & Specialists Clinics/Imaging Centers

Community Healthcare Centers and what do they do

A Community Healthcare Center (CHC) is a non-profitable, consumer-directed healthcare organization. CHC serves the underserved, underinsured and uninsured people, and provides them with access to high quality and preventive medical health care. Since 1965 Community Health Systems have provided comprehensive health and wellness support services to more than 22 million Americans, who otherwise would not have had access to quality care.

Community Healthcare Network receives funds through federal and local grants and payments from patients and insurance companies. CHCs must compete once every three years for federal grant funding and use these federal grant dollars to help patients pay for their healthcare costs.  

Patient Referral Management in Community Clinics

Community 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. Community Health Centers do not have the facilities for giving specialized treatments or for taking advanced tests. So, when a patient requires any of these, the PCP refers him/her to the most suitable imaging center or specialty practice.

Community Health Systems 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 community healthcare and specialty care

A referral process may become inefficient and ineffective if the community health systems 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, he/she is referred 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 Community Health Systems 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.

Rising popularity of CCM – Common Chronic Diseases In The USA

Chronic illness rates are increasing year by year and are taking a toll on the nation’s population. Serious chronic diseases like stroke, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. are one of the leading cause of increased death rate in the country. More than 75% of healthcare spending is on people with chronic conditions. Beyond any statistics, medication non-adherence is a poor clinical outcome and overcoming this is another great challenge. Thus, doing more to take care of the population health is crucial.

Even today, we witness patients suffering from poor access to healthcare and it is continuing to increase. So improving quality of life for people with chronic disease is vital and is an epidemic in the USA. Simultaneously, the burden of multiple chronic illnesses is also increasing rapidly. In one of the recent release, it is noted that two-thirds of Medicare patients have two or more chronic conditions; another one-third have four or more.  The growing impact of this condition is placing a huge economic demand on the nation. Utmost care has to be taken to address this growing condition, and addressing it will not only reduce cost but also increase the quality of life.  Taking steps towards better health and using care more effectively is a need today.

Chronic Care Management is a boon to both the providers and the patients. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken a lot of new initiatives to raise awareness of the benefits of Chronic Care Management. This initiative offers family physicians and other healthcare specialists the support they need to implement Chronic Care Management in their practice. It is all about providing care to patients with chronic illness through a framework for embracing healthy life, improving patient health and increasing revenue.

The prime goal of CCM is to improve care quality through remote monitoring and managing patient health conditions better by creating care individual care plans for each of the patients for achieving better health outcomes.

Chronic Care Management promises the below

  • Continuity of care by the provider.
  • Individual care plan for patients.
  • 24/7 access to healthcare.
  • Assessment of patient health records, patient-generated health data.
  • Access patient health information at regular intervals.
  • A secure electronic platform to share patient information and care plans
  • Managing care transitions

Apart from this Chronic Care Management includes non-face-to-face care management and care coordination. The transition from fee-for-service to value-based payment has a huge impact in the healthcare industry. And the CCM billing model makes it possible by getting paid for the time and effort the care team invests in their patients. It is evident that this is benefitting both the patient and the provider. CCM has gained in traction through the value the physicians bring in by delivering continuous and connected healthcare. For the past many years, physicians have helped patients over the phone but never got paid for it. But now with the introduction of Chronic Care Management (CCM) by Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) this has been resolved. Patients can elect one physician to take care of their CCM program. The elected CCM physician or provider must establish, implement, revise, or monitor and manage an electronic care plan that addresses the physical, mental, psychosocial, functional, and environmental needs of the patient as well as maintain an inventory of resources and supports that the patient needs. Thus, the practice must use a certified EHR to bill CCM codes. The CPT CPT codes 99490 and 99487, and the add-on CPT code 99489 is a new source of revenue for the physicians’ and other care providers.

And it is no surprise that CCM is gaining popularity among all the care providers, physicians, and patients. Schedule a demo with us to know more about HealthViewX – Chronic Care Management Solution

Accidental Violation of HIPAA Compliance

Patient information secrecy is of utmost importance for any healthcare organization and medical professionals due to the risk of being compromised, exposed or accessed. With initiatives and innovation in healthcare IT space by various federal agencies (particularly CMS) and health care providers throughout the country over the years, have embraced healthcare IT innovations to secure healthcare data.

Most providers even today use conventional processes to send and receive medical referrals which could lead to an accidental violation of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) rules which sets the standards to the use and share of patient-related information to ensure security.

In best practices, referrals are managed by referral coordinators who are in charge of sharing patient information, setting appointments and ensuring closure of the referral loop. The referral coordinator and other staff may be committing HIPAA violations in the following manner:

1. Triplicate Forms– Commonly, medical referrals are conducted using triplicate forms and it contains patient identification information. Such forms are circulated to the Specialists’ office and a copy is kept at the PCP’s office.

2. Patient Information Faxing– Hospitals and clinics relay a lot on faxing. Patient information for referrals are sent via faxes and it is not uncommon for providers to misplace such documents.

3. Use of Personal Portals and Storing Devices– For the ease of communication healthcare providers and referral coordinators repeatedly make use of their personal communication devices or portals like emails, cell phones etc.

According to HIPAA, all those above scenarios fall under the category of accidental violation of HIPAA regulations and such violators are subject to a penalty ranging from $100 dollars to $50,000 per violation depending on how the violation is categorized as.

It is not rare for providers to find themselves in these circumstances like many have in the recent past. Some due to negligence don’t comply with HIPAA regulations and on the other side of the spectrum for criminal activities involving staff misuse. Providers could take immediate actions against this issue and cut their risk in half.

a. Educating your staff on the threat to patient information, HIPAA violation and penalties involved.
b. Establishing standard procedures for staff to follow while dealing with medical referrals.
c. Likewise establishing security infrastructure to secure health data in hospital servers and cloud.

In the long run, these measures will not be enough. These methods do not have the capacity to manage large numbers of medical referrals and providers cannot divert much of their resources to maintain an IT team when there is always a shortage of helping hands.

Healthcare providers need to move away from paper triplicate forms and fax machines and embrace Referral Management Solution.

HealthViewX Referral Management Solution is a comprehensive, multi-channel solution that is secure as it is functional.

Profiting From Chronic Care Management

Chronic patients care requirements are different when compared to regular patients. In case of chronic patients, the provider should create, and maintain continuous yet flexible care delivery model to accommodate various healthcare requirements. Until the recent past, the provider’s reimbursement plans for Medicare was not flexible enough to hold all the post and pre ER visit care that is necessary for health and well-being of people with chronic diseases.

Chronic Care Management CMS has given providers the needed elasticity and space to work best with their chronic patients. Under the scheme, providers can charge CMS for 20 minutes of non-hospital, non-face-to-face care that they give to patients over a month. This is a great leap in the right direction but given the strict parameters of the program, many providers are concerned that being a part of it will do more harm than good financially. But here are a few steps that can ensure the greater chance of financial success.

Start with the program
Design a standard approach
Employ resources

Start with the program

Yes, this is the less obvious but important step, less obvious because no provider would want to get into a program with outcome unknown. Chronic Care Management has a few unique features such as only one provider shall charge for CCM services. This means by the time a provider makes his mind and assigns resources their patients would have already gone to a different provider.

It is also true that the program and the approach with which it is designed is rather new in the industry today and it will do good for providers to understand and be used to the change.

Design a standard approach

Like all programs CCM would benefit from a standard approach, it will make it easier for providers to alter and adapt it later. A standard approach will also make billing easier & less troublesome. The main idea here is to spot what works best for a practice and if it doesn’t then how it can be changed to arrive at the result that the provider hopes to achieve.

Employ Resources

Provider/ Practice must designate and assign a resource for CCM program. Resources which include human can achieve the objectives better if the program is taken seriously and not like a side assignment without any defined parameters. In most cases, resources are already available and assigned to chronic patients care but adjustments need to be made so that such systems will meet the program parameters.


This step is evident and for the right reasons. The review can help in understanding the causes of malfunction if any. And what is required to make it right and more importantly to know the aim of the exercise – that is improved care quality, is achieved. The introduction of this program CMS has laid the groundwork for healthcare industry’s transformation into a quality based industry in which profitability has linked quality and vice versa. Schedule a demo with us to learn more about Chronic Care Management.