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How Can An Open Patient Referral Loop Hamper Your Network?

The increasing complexity of patient referrals in healthcare

Patient referrals are increasing in number every day. Health Systems and Hospitals which send out numerous medical referrals find it difficult to track and close a patient referral loop on time. What factors prevent the referral coordinators, operations managers, physicians or care providers from closing the patients’ referral loops?

  1. Prior Authorization – The referral coordinator does the insurance pre-authorization for the patient referrals in healthcare. Considering that one out of every three patients is referred to a specialist, it is difficult to do prior authorization. This makes patient referral system time-consuming and affects referral loop closure.
  2. Finding the right specialist/imaging center – The referring provider must choose the right specialist or imaging center that will suit the patient best. He/She should send the referral to a reliable provider who will give the best care and give regular updates. The referring provider must also consider a provider who covers the patient’s insurance before initiating the referral. If the referring provider fails to do this, open patient referral loop becomes imminent.
  3. No updates on the referral progress – The receiving provider fails to update the progress of the referral. 25% to 50% of referring physicians do not know if their patients actually visit the specialist or imaging center. As many patient referrals are initiated on a daily basis, tracking it manually is difficult for the referring provider. This ultimately results in open patient referral loop.
  4. Inadequate referral information – The receiving providers usually have a tough time processing referrals with incomplete information. 70% of the specialists rate the patient referral information from the referring providers as poor. This affects the patient referral lifecycle.
  5. Outdated referral workflow – The current referral workflow is outdated. The providers find it difficult to cope up with the increasing patient referrals in healthcare. On an average, a referring provider spends half an hour to one hour per referral and even more time in following up. Outdated referral technology affects the referral loop closure.

Close a referral loop in healthcare with the HealthViewX Patient Referral System

Information Technology enables patient referral workflow automation. HealthViewX Patient Referral Management System simplifies the process and closes the referral loop on time.

  1. The Primary Care Provider (PCP) identifies the need for a referral and initiates the same through the EHR system.
  2. The referral coordination team then validates the referral and does the insurance pre-authorization with the help of HealthViewX solution.
  3. The Intelligent Provider Smart Search feature of HealthViewX Patient Referral Management System helps in finding the right specialist or imaging center easily.
  4. The referral coordination team then sends the referral with the necessary documents to the relevant specialist or imaging center through the HealthViewX platform.
  5. The receiving provider gets notified about the referral and can schedule appointments with the patient.
  6. The patient and the receiving provider get reminders of the appointments thus reducing no-show rates.
  7. The referring provider is also notified about the status of the referral and how it is progressing. HealthViewX timeline view makes tracking and managing the referral lifecycle easier.
  8. HealthViewX tracks and sends reminders to the receiving provider to update the diagnosis, treatment recommendations, care plans in the referral.
  9. HealthViewX makes it easy for the referring provider by automatically updating this information back to the EHR system.
  10. Thus the HealthViewX solution closes the referral loop on time and helps in easy monitoring of the same.

Features and Functionalities

  • Referral workflow automation reduces the time and manual effort spent on a referral. Thus HealthViewX solution improves the efficiency of the process.
  • Patient coordination framework achieved through the patient application that helps in managing appointments and log data for the care plans prescribed by the provider.
  • Automated insurance pre-authorization reduces the work of the referral coordination team and makes the process simple.
  • Intelligent Provider Search feature helps in finding the right specialist or imaging center in no time.
  • Referral timeline view and communication enables easy flow of information between the referring and the receiving ends.
  • Scheduler integration gives timely reminders and notifications to the patients and the providers about appointments, lab tests, etc.
  • Referral insights and analytics gives the PCPs 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.

Benefits of closing the patient referral loop in the healthcare industry

  1. Increased Medicare reimbursements –  Medicare considers closing medical referral loop as a benchmark for giving reimbursements. Closed medical referral loops increase the opportunities for Medicare reimbursements for referral marketing.
  2. Streamline referral management – With HealthViewX Patient Referral System in place, the referral workflow is automated and streamlined.
  3. Improved patient care – Reduced waiting time gives patient satisfaction thereby improving the care quality.
  4. Increased productivity – Reduced operational time improves the efficiency of the patient referral system.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management application helps in closing the referral loop and increases the revenue for the practice. To know more about HealthViewX solution, schedule a demo with us. Our patient referral management experts will guide you through our HIPAA-compliant solution.


How Can Physicians Manage Patients’ Annual Wellness Visit better?

What is AWV?

In the year 2011, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced the Annual Wellness Visit (AWV). An AWV is a yearly appointment of the patient with the physician funded by the American Affordable Care Act.  It is very different from an Annual Physical Exam and is more of an educational visit than a diagnostic one. During this visit, the physician formulates a preventive plan for the patient for the coming year. This plan can help in preventing illness based on current health and risk factors.

Eligibility Criteria

Medicare provides Personalized Prevention Plan Services (PPPS) under the wellness plan for beneficiaries who:

  • Are no longer within 12 months after the effective date of their first Medicare Part B coverage period
  • Have not received an Initial Preventive Physical Examination (IPPE) or Medicare yearly wellness visit within the past 12 months

The following medical practitioners are eligible for providing Medicare yearly wellness visit services to patients:

  • Physician (a doctor of medicine or osteopathy)
  • Qualified non-physician practitioner (a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or certified clinical nurse specialist)
  • Medical professional (including a health educator, registered dietitian, nutrition professional, or other licensed practitioners), or a team of medical professionals who are directly supervised by a physician (doctor of medicine or osteopathy)

Medicare Wellness checklist

  1. Initial Annual Wellness Visit – This is applicable the first time a beneficiary receives an Annual Wellness Visit. It includes the following components:
  • Acquire Beneficiary Information: The physician assesses the health risk factors of the patient. It includes analyzing patient self-reported information, demographic data, daily activities, etc. He/She collects data from the list of physicians who regularly treat the patient. The physician reviews the beneficiary’s medical and social history,  completely studies the patient’s potential risk factors, mood disorders, functional ability and level of safety.
  • Begin Assessment: The physician begins the assessment by measuring the patient’s vitals. He/She identifies the patient’s illness through direct observation, medical history, concerns raised by family members, friends, caretakers, etc.
  • Counsel Beneficiary Action: The physician establishes a written screening schedule for the beneficiary, such as an appropriate checklist for the next 5 to 10 years, etc. He/She furnishes personalized health advice to the beneficiary and generates appropriate referrals to specialist clinics or imaging centers. The physician gives advance care planning at the discretion of the beneficiary.

The subsequent Medicare yearly wellness visits include the above components and will be updated on the later patient visits.

Billing Codes for Medicare Yearly Wellness Visit

G0438 $117 Annual wellness visit which includes a personalized prevention plan of service (PPS) and the first visit
G0439 $173 Annual wellness visit which includes a personalized prevention plan of service (PPS) and the subsequent visits

Tips for physicians to benefit from Annual Wellness Visit

  • Managing patients – All Medicare Part B patients are eligible for Wellness Plan services. It is necessary for the practice to find the right patients who would benefit from this service. The physicians must give the patients a clear idea of how Medicare Wellness Program process works, what they can expect from the service, etc. The practice must make the patients aware of the reimbursements and the additional charges they may incur depending on their insurance coverage.
  • Developing protocols for schedulesA Medicare Wellness Program takes a great deal of both staff and physician resources to give the service. It is better for a practice to take some time to decide how these appointments best fit into their existing schedule. Creating a scheduling protocol will save more time and frustration. For example, how many days in a week, the practice can schedule these appointments, what tool for tracking the Medicare Wellness Program services, patient records, reimbursement rates, etc.
  • Pre-visit planning – The practice must verify not only the patient’s Medicare Part B effective date but also whether the patient has received a Wellness Plan from any physician in the last 11 months. Otherwise, Medicare may deny the service, leaving the patient with an unexpected bill. The practice must do the same verification for other preventive services that patients receive along with the Medicare Yearly Wellness Visit. It is ideal to have the staff note the last date of these preventive services on a Medicare Yearly Wellness Visit documentation form in advance of the visit. This will help in determining which preventive services are needed and whether the patient is eligible to have these paid for by Medicare. A pre-visit history can also find whether the patient needs any laboratory tests such as the cardiovascular scans, diabetes screening blood tests, etc. These should be completed prior to the Medicare Yearly Wellness Visit to allow discussion of its results at the visit.
  • Planning for effective follow-up care – The physician should analyze the patient’s risk factors and problems accurately during the Medicare Wellness Program. The physician must generate a care plan for the patient considering these factors. It is necessary to develop a preventive service plan and a general checklist for the next ten years. The physicians should follow-up the same on the patient’s subsequent Medicare Yearly Wellness Visits.
  • Getting complete reimbursementsThe last step in providing the Medicare Yearly  Wellness Program is to get paid the service rendered. AWV attracts the physicians’ attention because of the reimbursements offered by Medicare. The practice must keep up a clear documentation to make the process hassle-free.

These practices simplify the Medicare Wellness Program process thereby improving the efficiency of the practice. The HealthViewX solution eases the AWV workflow for the practice. With HealthViewX solution, there is no chance of losing the reimbursements. To know more about HealthViewX solution, schedule a demo with us.

HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage

What does HIPAA stand for?

HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data. Any company that deals with protected health information (PHI) must ensure that all the required physical, network, and process security measures are in place and followed. It was formed in 1996 and, among other things, protects patient health information.

Who has to comply with HIPAA?

HIPAA applies to two groups:

  1. Covered Entities: Covered entities are defined in the HIPAA rules as  
    • Health Plans
    • Health Care Clearinghouses
    • Health Care Providers, who electronically transmit any health information in connection with transactions for which HHS has adopted standards.
  2. Business Associates: A business associate is a person or entity, other than a member of the workforce of a covered entity, who performs functions or activities on behalf of, or provides certain services to, a covered entity that involves access by the business associate to protected health information. It includes CPA, Attorney, Laboratories, IT Providers, Billing and Coding Services.

For detailed information, please visit the Health & Human Services (HHS) website.

HIPAA violations  

HIPAA violations are expensive. Based on the level of negligence, the penalty for non-compliance can range from $100 to $50,000 per violation, with a maximum penalty of $1.5 million per year for violations of an identical provision. Violations can also carry criminal charges that can result in jail time.

Does HIPAA apply to Cloud Storage?

Yes, it does. When PHI is stored on behalf of the healthcare organization the cloud service becomes a business associate and thus must be HIPAA compliant. The law protects privacy, integrity, and accessibility. The Security Rule, which addresses electronic PHI, includes physical and technical safeguards such as audit controls and access controls. It also administrative safeguards such as data backups and security incident procedures.

Healthcare Industry – The Prime Target

The healthcare industry is one of the primary targets for cybercriminals. Stats reveal that a total of 113.2 million healthcare related records were stolen in 2015. Recent studies also say that healthcare has been the industry with the highest number of data breaches. And this stolen data could be  used by the cyber attackers for many fraudulent activities such as stealing identities, procuring drugs, for filing fraudulent claims, pursuing treatment using another identity, etc. and these criminals even sell the patient records for anywhere between 1-5 dollars per record and complete set of medical records for more than $1000 on the darknet. The healthcare industry attracts the security hackers because medical records are lucrative to sell and are easy to hack.

Medical identity theft is increasing at an alarming rate. But the healthcare industry still lags in terms of preparedness when comes to implementing security protocols. So far in 2017, 79 security breaches, each affecting at least 500 patients, have been reported to the U.S. Health & Human Services Department. And this hacking trend is likely to stay or even increase over the coming years. Medical records contain lots of information about the patient like their full name, address, insurance details, social security number, diagnosis details, driver’s license, credit card numbers and a lot more. This information from the medical records can be used for fraudulent billing, prescriptions, etc. By hacking these information cybercriminals make a significant amount of money. According to NBC News, complete health records are going for $60 each.

Steps to be taken by the healthcare industry to prevent data breach:

         Plan sufficient budget for security purposes to curtail or minimize data breach

         Choose the right technology solution to protect patient health data

         Adopt latest technologies to mitigate data breach

         Most of all, ensure the solution you choose is HIPAA compliant

         HIPAA Education for employees – Make sure all employees know what personal health information can and cannot be shared with patients, caregivers and outsiders

         Ensure IT secures the devices it issues employees

         Get rid of the paper records once it is scanned and imported into your EHR

         Encrypt data and also hardware

         Take Identity and Access Management seriously, provide individual specific access to patient health records.

Cyber threats are increasing at an alarming rate. The healthcare industry is the prime pick needs to make smarter decisions to operate their business. The healthcare providers need to have a clear understanding of how industry regulations impact cloud adoption and what has to be looked into while choosing a cloud storage service provider. A cloud storage service becomes a business associate if they store Protected Health Information (PHI) on behalf of any healthcare organization. Also, cloud service providers need to sign a business associate agreement with the healthcare organization that specifies the vendor’s compliance with HIPAA requirements. As a basic step, healthcare providers should ensure that the PHI is encrypted in the cloud. And make certain that the policies, technology, and processes required are in place to eliminate risks.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a HIPAA compliant cloud service provider should have certain administrative, physical and technical safeguards to host your data. Here’s below in detail of what constitutes a HIPAA compliant data center.

Physical Protection: It includes limited facility access and control with authorized access in place. All the covered entities or companies that must be HIPAA compliant must have policies about use and access to workstations and electronic media. This includes transferring, sharing, removing and disposing of any electronic protected health information (ePHI).

Technical Protection: This requires access or control to only those who are authorized to access electronic protected health information. It includes unique user ID’s, user-specific access, emergency access procedure, automatic log off, encryption and decryption. Audit reports and tracking logs should be implemented to help track any security violation.

Technical Policies and Procedures: This should cover integrity controls and also ensure the ePHI is not altered or destroyed. It should also ensure any IT disaster recovery and offsite backup are key to ensure any electronic media errors can be resolved and patient health information can be recovered intact.

Network Security: This requires HIPAA compliant host to protect against any unauthorized public access of ePHI.

On February 17, 2009, a supplement act called The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was passed, an act which the enforcement of HIPAA requirements by raising the penalties of health organizations that violate HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules. The HITECH Act addresses the privacy and security concerns associated with electronic transmission of health information.

Patient health records are full of personal information and are a prized target for cybercriminals. Hence it is essential to protect the patient data. The HealthViewX Solutions keep patient data safe and secure with HIPAA Compliant cloud storage and ensure complete security to protect sensitive data.

Create and Manage your Medical Referral Network Better!

Referral Management Solution helps providers to send patient referrals and to keep track of them. The purpose of the solution is to achieve a better outcome by improving communication and coordination between healthcare providers and patients.
Electronic Referrals or e-Referral enables endless patient information sharing throughout the care continuum in a secured way without violating HIPAA complaint. It also makes hospital referral process simple, manageable and reviewable at any given point.

Referral software integrates with EMR and will soon eliminate paperwork and documentation. A study suggests that paperless referrals have increased the follow-up rates up to 30-40%.
The Healthcare process workflow is considered to be one of the most challenging environments with regards to the complexity and security involved, Referral Solution helps to extemporize the hospital’s process flow and enables quick referrals.

The followings are the features of Referral Solution:

1. Better Access

The focus of Referral software is to improve the doctor-patient communication to provide better care and to improve health outcome. Physicians can send seamless referrals within or outside the network and the patients can communicate to their specialist anytime. This endless access helps patients to engage better in self-care.

2. Manage Referrals

Referral Solution helps to send right information to the right person at the right time. It also helps the provider to manage the workflow of information back and forth. PCP who usually initiates the referral can view the referral history and can track and drill down to check the status in detail for any number of referrals initiated from their facility.

3. E-Consultation

E-consultation reduces unnecessary face-to-face hospital visits. The well -designed Referral Solution makes it easy for patients and caregivers to exchange messages and medical diagnostic attachments like X-rays, screening images, and clinical notes with the specialists. A specialist or PCP can instantly get connected to their patient for e-consultation either via texts, calls, or video calls.

4. Reminders and Alerts Notification

Both physicians and patients get reminders about their upcoming scheduled meetings. The solution will allow you to manage all these alerts. Automated alerts are also sent to keep physicians informed if they miss any alerts or in case of emergency.

5. Schedule Appointments

The physician can quickly fix appointments with their patients if they are under risk conditions. Scheduled appointments can be managed online through portals in case if they want to postpone or cancel the meeting after seeing improvements in patient’s health condition.

6. Post Feedback and Loop Closure

Feedback along with all treatment details will be sent back to the referred PCP from the specialist for EMR update. Once the patient record is updated PCP will close the referral loop.
Some hospitals find reducing referral leakage and readmissions after implementing Referral Management Solution at their practice.

7. Referral Leakage

Medical records are highly confidential and it requires a safe and secure transfer. Also, the probability of leakage of data is high when PCP is looking at multiple cases on a given day.

In order to avoid leakage, providers need to update the physician’s directory list frequently.
This problem can be solved by encrypting the file with a password. People who have credentials are the only ones who will be able to access, view and share the patient record.

HealthViewX Referral Management Solution helps to send referrals secure and seamlessly, provide quick access to patient data, send notifications and alerts, and share information throughout to ensure closure of referral loop.

Redesigning the Healthcare Delivery Model To Suit The Future

The WHO predicts that in the decades to come to the population of people above 65 will surpass that of children under 5 years of age. Analyzing the current trends, it can be concluded that many of these senior citizens are prone to have one or more chronic conditions.

Chronic conditions could mean more expenses for the payers and more pressure to the system. This is a volatile situation, where the social and demographic changes resulting will have a negative impact on efficiency and per capita cost factor.

To cope with this rise in senior population with chronic conditions, healthcare systems will have to manage the following:

1. Adding human resources:
Perhaps the most obvious but the most important step to adapt is to invest in human resources. It has been observed that human interactions cannot be substituted, healthcare delivery centers who focus on having optimum qualified resources in their care delivery system have more often proved to deliver the better patient experience.

2. Precision Medicine:
Precision medicine is understanding and acknowledging that different patients react to medication and treatment differently due to genetic disposition. Treatment and medication must be engineered to get the best result as possible.

Connected devices and health monitoring equipment that aids in gathering patient information near to real-time helps best possible health outcomes achievable even in the most complex scenarios.

3. Overcoming impending shortage of healthcare professionals:

The proportion of healthcare providers to that of the population is already less than ideal. This trend is said to continue even as the number and necessity of patients multiply. Healthcare providers must find a way to bridge the gap between demand and supply in healthcare. One way to do it is to create new models of care delivery using technology to stretch help across geographic distances. Telemedicine is a viable option available for healthcare professionals to augment their services in order to do more with less time and resources.

4. Holistic Medicine:

Decades of focus on specialization has made healthcare professionals see a disease or its symptom as an isolated case, and the patients are considered cured by only removing the disease. In practice, a person might be suffering from multiple health issues and a simplified isolated view might do more harm than good to a patient.

5. Leading cause and concentrated efforts

In the coming years and even now, termination of a patient’s life is more likely to occur due to traceable lifestyle choices or practices than from any infection or diseases. For example the relation between obesity and disease has for long been proven beyond any doubt, furthermore, obesity and related illness will increase the cost of treating a patient. Therefore a concentrated effort to reduce obesity can bring about a positive result in reducing the possibility of heart disease and stroke.

Like obesity, scientific observation can identify key causes of a disease and healthcare providers can make a concentrated effort in reducing the causes in a population.

These are the most important steps a healthcare provider will have to consider in improving healthcare outcomes.

The transition to a more technology involved healthcare delivery management can tremendously help providers be agiler and more effective with necessary amendments.
Healthcare strategies must be relooked to have a more holistic & flexible approach not only to accommodate CMS led changes but also to benefit the entire population.