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FAQs – Chronic Care Management

Care providers across the United States of America are monetizing Medicare chronic care management billing reimbursement codes to increase revenue from their practice. Read on to find answers to all the most commonly asked questions about patient eligibility, the scope of services, CPT codes and payment reimbursement for Medicare CCM.

Patient Eligibility

FAQ: Are all Medicare patients eligible for CCM reimbursement?

AnswerAccording to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), CCM is for “patients with two or more chronic conditions. A chronic condition is expected to last at least 12 months or the patient’s entire lifetime. The condition should be diagnosed to place the patient at significant risk of death, or functional decline.

FAQHow can a care provider decide which condition meets CMS’ definition for CCM eligibility?

AnswerCMS has not specified or listed the eligible chronic conditions that meet this definition. CMS does have a databank regarding chronic conditions (http://www.ccwdata.org) that care providers can use. However, this list is very narrow. In general practice, CMS requires a clear communication within the care plan that the chronic conditions being treated post a significant risk of death or functional decline.

FAQ Are there only certain diagnoses for which the CCM code can be reported?

Answer: There is not a defined list of diagnosis codes that meet the requirements of. What is required is that the chronic conditions place the patient at significant risk of death, acute exacerbation/decompensation, or functional decline and that management requires a care plan. The AAN recognizes patients with two or more of the following conditions may be appropriate for the use of chronic care management services*:

  • Neurocognitive disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia, and Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke with late effects that place the patient at risk for falls, fractures, and aspiration pneumonia
  • Poorly controlled diabetes mellitus

FAQ: What about patients who are Medicare beneficiaries but also eligible for Medicaid?

Answer: CMS CPT codes can be used while billing for CCM treatment given to Medicare beneficiaries who are also eligible for Medicaid.

FAQ: How to kick-start the process of bringing a patient under CCM care?

AnswerAn initial appointment must be fixed for a comprehensive evaluation of the patient. This is known as a “Welcome to Medicare” visit and includes an initial preventive physical examination. A patient must have received an introduction to Medicare CCM billing in person to be able to bill separately for CCM services. Until the changes made in 2017, a consent form signed by the patient was mandatory during the patient’s initiation into the CCM program. As per the CMS requirement, the consent form is no longer mandatory.

FAQ – Can CCM services be reported if the patient/caregiver has not given consent?

Answer: No. One of the requirements for billing CCM services is “knowledge and recognition by the patient that the physician will perform care management services on the patient’s behalf.” In the event of an audit, documentation of patient consent in the patient record is crucial.

Scope of Services

FAQ: What are the scope of services for CCM reimbursement as defined by CMS?

AnswerCMS defines the scope of CCM services in the following way:

  1. Provide patients with access to care management services at any time of the day. This means patients should be able to contact the care provider during any emergency or urgent chronic care need 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week. This may be through calls, SMS, email, internet applications or other means agreed upon by the patient and care provider.
  2. Established care continuity with a designated provider with whom the patient is able to schedule appointments, discuss care plan compliance, report vital stats and discuss any discomfort that arises.
  3. Creation of a patient-centered care plan document taking into consideration the physical, mental, functional and environmental factors of the patient. This includes an assessment of the support system and resources accessible to the patient.
  4. Care management for chronic conditions including assessment of patient’s medical, functional, and psychosocial needs. Regular follow-ups to ensure timely receipt of all recommended preventive care services, adherence to the suggested care plan and timely medication.
  5. Regular follow-up after a patient visits the emergency department, after discharges from the hospital or other healthcare facilities. Coordination with home/community based clinical service providers to support a patient’s care plan adherence.
  6. Use of certified electronic health record (EHR) and a patient consent form were mandatory until the changes in 2017 which made them optional.

Chronic Care Management CPT Billing Codes and Payment

FAQ: Which CMS Medicare billing codes can be used to bill CCM?

Answer: For the chronic codes that can be billed are below.

CPT Code Billing Amount(approx) per consultation Description
CPT99490 $42 Min 20min non-face to face time monitoring the care plan
CPT99480 $60 Min 60min non-face to face consultation time establishing or monitoring a care plan
CPT99489 $47 To be billed with CPT 99487 for every additional 30 min of non-face to face consultation


FAQ:  Are CCM services subject to Medicare’s co-paying system?

AnswerYes. After the deductible is met, the 20 percent coinsurance charged to the patient will be about $8 to $9 for a month’s work of CCM with CPT 99490.

FAQ: Can you bill CCM for patients in an assisted living facility?

AnswerAccording to CMS, CPT code 99490 can be billed only for CCM services provided to a patient who is currently not the inpatient of a hospital. The patient must not be residing in a facility that receives payment from Medicare for that beneficiary.

FAQ: Is billing for CCM services limited to primary care physicians?

AnswerPhysicians and Non-Physicians can claim reimbursement by billing for CCM CPT Codes. CCM code is most likely to be billed by primary care physicians. However, specialists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse midwives who meet the requirements may also bill for these services.

FAQ: Can the non-face-to-face time spent creating the care plan count toward the 20 minutes necessary to bill 99490?

AnswerYes, it can.

FAQ: What is the difference between chronic care management (99490) and complex chronic care management services (99487, 99489)?

Answer: Complex chronic care management services include the same criteria as the chronic care management service, plus an additional requirement of the establishment or substantial revision of a comprehensive care plan, medical decision-making of moderate to high complexity, and at least 60 minutes of clinical staff time.

Care Plan

FAQ: What does the care plan have to include as required by CMS?

AnswerThe plan of care should include details of the following elements:

  • Problem list detailing the chronic conditions the patient suffers from
  • Expected outcome and the likely course of the disease
  • Measurable treatment goals
  • Symptom management
  • Planned interventions through regular follow-ups and vital data collection from patient
  • Medication management depending on any concerns/reactions/improvement reported by the patient
  • Care coordination plan between care provider and patient’s caregiver such as family/nurse/community housing etc
  • Requirements for periodic review and revision of the care plan as required.

FAQ: Do I have to provide the patient with a copy of the care plan?

AnswerYes. CMS requires the care provider to share the care plan with the patient in a written or electronic format.

FQHC Statistics – Growth, Region, Performance and Revenue – Federally Qualified Health Centers across USA

FQHCs as defined by Medicare and Medicaid

According to Medicare and Medicaid statutes, an FQHC is a health center that receives federal funding under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act to provide comprehensive primary care services to uninsured and underinsured populations.

Health centers originated under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 as “neighborhood health centers”. Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act established the Health Center Program, which provides federal funding for health centers. It also provided federal grants to community and migrant health centers to serve the uninsured. The FQHC program of today was enacted under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1989 and expanded under OBRA of 1990. The legislation provided cost-based reimbursements to health centers for Medicare and Medicaid services specified under Section 330.

The Growth of FQHCs

In the early 1960s, there were only 8 health centers in U.S. Ever since then, the numbers have increased exponentially. By 2001, there were 748 health centers at 4,128 service sites around the nation, serving approximately 10 million individuals.

Federal funding for health centers has increased from $750 million in 1996 to $2.2 billion in 2010. The federal support has increased tremendously over the last 10 years. In 2011, there were 1,128 health centers providing care to more than 8,000 rural and urban delivery sites in U.S. and territories. Today, there are 1400 organizations with 11200 facilities serving about 25 million individuals every year.

Figure 1 - Growth of Health Centers (1980 - 2018)

Figure 1 – Growth of Health Centers (1980 – 2018)

The above chart shows the growth of health centers from the time it started in 1980 till 2018. Also, the chart shows the exponential increase in the number of patients served over the years.

FQHCs in various regions across U.S

State State Code Number of FQHCs
California CA 176
Texas TX 73
New York NY 65
Florida FL 48
Illinois IL 45
Ohio OH 45
Pennsylvania PA 44
Michigan MI 39
Massachusetts MA 39
North Carolina NC 38
Georgia GA 35
Louisiana LA 34
Oregon OR 31
Tennessee TN 29
Alaska AK 28
Missouri MO 28
West Virginia WV 27
Washington WA 27
Virginia VA 26
Indiana IN 25
Kentucky KY 23
New Jersey NJ 23
South Carolina SC 22
Arizona AZ 21
Mississippi MS 21
Colorado CO 20
Oklahoma OK 20
Kansas KA 18
Maine ME 18
Maryland MD 17
Montana MT 17
New Mexico NM 17
Wisconsin WI 17
Connecticut CT 16
Minnesota MN 16
Hawaii HI 14
Iowa IA 14
Idaho ID 14
Alabama AL 14
Puerto Rico PR 14
Utah UT 13
Arkansas AR 12
New Hampshire NH 11
Vermont VT 11
District of Columbia WDC 8
Rhode Island RI 8
Nebraska NE 7
Wyoming WY 6
Nevada NV 5
South Dakota SD 5
North Dakota ND 4
Delaware DE 3
Virgin Islands VI 3
Guam GU 2
Northern Mariana Islands MP 2

Performance of FQHCs

Figure 2 - Health Centers Perform Better on Ambulatory Care Quality Measures than Private Practice Physicians

Figure 2 – Health Centers Perform Better on Ambulatory Care Quality Measures than Private Practice Physicians

The above chart shows how health centers have outperformed private practice physicians in every aspect of service.

Figure 3 - Health Centers Provide More Preventive Services than Other Primary Care Providers

Figure 3 – Health Centers Provide More Preventive Services than Other Primary Care Providers

The above chart shows a comparison between health centers and other providers based on the number of patient visits for various ailments.

Figure 4 - Health Center Patients Are More Satisfied with the Overall Care Received Compared with Low Income Patients Nationally

Figure 4 – Health Center Patients Are More Satisfied with the Overall Care Received Compared with Low Income Patients Nationally

The above chart shows the level of satisfaction of low-income patients. Health center patients have a huge level of satisfaction as compared to other low-income patients nationally.

Financing and Reimbursements for FQHCs

FQHCs are required by law to provide services to all people, regardless of ability to pay. The uninsured are charged for services on a board-approved sliding-fee scale, which is based on a patient’s family income and size.

FQHCs are financed through a mix of Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements (with different payment methodologies), direct patient revenue, other third-party payers (private insurers), state funding, local funding, philanthropic organizations, and grant funding from the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) of HRSA of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Figure 5 - FQHC Revenues by Payer Source

Figure 5 – Financing and Reimbursements for FQHCs

The above chart shows the revenue distribution of FQHCs based on payer source.

FQHC Revenue across all regions in U.S (approx. 2018)

Location Medicaid Medicare Private Insurance Self-Pay Federal Section 330 Grants Other Grants and Contracts Other Total
United States $10,544M $1,692M $2,227M $1,004M $4,422M $2,916M $943M $23,752M
Alabama $44M $14M $13M $10M $76M $10M $2M $173M
Alaska $79M $12M $28M $9M $64M $119M $2M $316M
Arizona $257M $37M $59M $24M $78M $43M $5M $506M
Arkansas $51M $15M $18M $10M $47M $11M $1M $157M
California $2,889M $300M $205M $118M $607M $529M $272M $4,922M
Colorado $259M $30M $30M $33M $98M $88M $30M $571M
Connecticut $206M $25M $24M $8M $53M $49M $9M $376M
Delaware $10M $1M $2M $4M $12M $5M $201K $37M
District of Columbia $130M $19M $20M $3M $22M $37M $5M $239M
Florida $376M $58M $134M $59M $219M $160M $23M $1,033M
Georgia $52M $34M $39M $27M $108M $25M $6M $294M
Hawaii $87M $13M $14M $5M $26M $30M $3M $181M
Idaho $31M $15M $35M $16M $44M $24M $6M $174M
Illinois $363M $45M $116M $29M $184M $113M $44M $897M
Indiana $161M $14M $25M $14M $68M $32M $27M $343M
Iowa $63M $10M $18M $9M $40M $16M $5M $163M
Kansas $29M $9M $17M $10M $36M $14M $4M $123M
Kentucky $156M $32M $56M $17M $67M $8M $5M $344M
Louisiana $82M $14M $47M $12M $90M $32M $9M $288M
Maine $37M $32M $43M $9M $40M $8M $6M $179M
Maryland $163M $32M $45M $13M $51M $33M $29M $370M
Massachusetts $314M $91M $141M $19M $114M $246M $117M $1,044M
Michigan $268M $50M $71M $22M $119M $40M $7M $580M
Minnesota $67M $10M $14M $10M $37M $27M $3M $171M
Mississippi $33M $16M $18M $17M $72M $16M $1M $177M
Missouri $203M $21M $39M $23M $97M $39M $6M $431M
Montana $24M $8M $15M $6M $35M $10M $4M $104M
Nebraska $15M $1M $6M $7M $19M $20M $1M $72M
Nevada $23M $4M $10M $3M $18M $12M $757K $73M
New Hampshire $19M $12M $18M $4M $22M $9M $2M $89M
New Jersey $147M $11M $11M $16M $80M $60M $4M $330M
New Mexico $112M $20M $22M $18M $68M $51M $3M $298M
New York $1,099M $138M $184M $43M $243M $239M $74M $2,023M
North Carolina $69M $55M $39M $38M $120M $38M $9M $370M
North Dakota $8M $3M $7M $3M $10M $687K $1M $35M
Ohio $181M $32M $41M $15M $134M $35M $25M $465M
Oklahoma $46M $12M $18M $12M $52M $9M $2M $155M
Oregon $325M $39M $20M $12M $85M $71M $14M $570M
Pennsylvania $277M $54M $83M $17M $110M $38M $640K $588M
Rhode Island $90M $12M $15M $3M $25M $13M $2M $162M
South Carolina $79M $42M $68M $20M $79M $24M $34M $349M
South Dakota $10M $4M $8M $5M $19M $3M $2M $55M
Tennessee $66M $20M $30M $13M $78M $28M $7M $244M
Texas $335M $46M $69M $78M $245M $265M $58M $1100M
Utah $27M $9M $13M $9M $35M $25M $3M $125M
Vermont $43M $24M $26M $17M $20M $6M $7M $147M
Virginia $35M $28M $32M $20M $82M $14M $3M $217M
Washington $650M $68M $80M $44M $132M $87M $20M $1,084M
West Virginia $100M $45M $79M $24M $65M $17M $6M $338M
Wisconsin $162M $7M $24M $10M $40M $46M $3M $296M
Wyoming $1M $1M $2M $1M $7M $1M $1M $17M
American Samoa $0 $0 $0 $293K $2M $792K $0 $4M
Federated States of Micronesia $0 $0 $23K $56K $1M $143K $0 $2M
Guam $3M $8,975 $25K $139K $2M $1M $0 $7M
Marshall Islands $0 $0 $0 $29KK $527K $1M $0 $1M
Northern Mariana Islands $116K $0 $3139 $1410 $799K $0 $0 $920K
Puerto Rico $157M $22M $11M $7M $90M $8M $2M $300M
Republic of Palau $0 $0 $39K $1M $674K $50K $0 $2M
U.S. Virgin Islands $5M $776K $815K $603K $3M $4M $0 $15M

Future of FQHCs

FQHCs have had a significant growth in the past decades. The above statistical data prove that FQHCs have the potential to serve more patients thereby improving the quality of care. In order to provide quality care improve patient experience, FQHC must invest in the right technology. HealthViewX Patient Referral Management software has provided the best use cases for the major challenges faced by the FQHC.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management Software for FQHCs

HealthViewX has completely analyzed the workflow of FQHCs. We have implemented the following features for many of our FQHC clients thus positively impacting their workflow

    • EMR/EHR integration – Our System integrates directly with electronic health records (EHRs). This enables healthcare professionals to easily obtain prior authorizations in real time at the point of care. It also eliminates time-consuming paper forms, faxes, and phone calls.
    • Insurance pre-authorization automation –  There are two ways in which HealthViewX solution automates the insurance pre-authorization process. The first one is the api-based method. Through this, we retrieve information regarding the forms and communicate information back and forth between the FQHC and the insurance company. The second one is the form automation method.  Through this, we get all payer-specific form, fill in the necessary information and send it to the insurance company via efax.
    • Intelligent Provider Match – The system has a smart search feature that enables PCPs to filter receiving providers according to their preference. The list is always up to date with the newly added specialty and imaging centers which makes it easy for the PCP.
    • To and fro Communication – At any time of the referral process, the PCP and the center can communicate with the help of the inbuilt secure messaging and voice call applications. By this, the physicians can get referral updates easily.
    • Referral Analytics – Customizable dashboards and reports provide information about the number of referrals sent, referrals in various status, referrals that were missed, processed and pending. It gives a clear picture for the FQHC and helps them in making informed decisions.

 

Reference

  1. Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (data from the National Association of Community Health Centers and the Uniform Data System (UDS) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
  2. Goldman, LE et al. Federally Qualified Health Centers and Private Practice Performance on Ambulatory Care Measures. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2012. 43(2):142-149. *Fontil et al. Management of Hypertension in Primary Care Safety-Net Clinics in the United States: A Comparison of Community Health Centers and Private Physicians’ Offices. Health Services Research. April 2017. 52:2.
  3. 2015 Uniform Data System. Bureau of Primary Health Care, HRSA, DHHS. National Center for Health Statistics. NCHS Data Brief. No. 220. November 2015. Hypertension Prevalence and Control Among Adults: United States, 2011 – 2014. National Committee for Quality Assurance. Comprehensive Diabetes Care, The State of Healthcare Quality (2016).
  4. Shi L, Tsai J, Higgins PC, Lebrun La. (2009). Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in access to care and quality of care for US health center patients compared with non-health center patients. J Ambul Care Manage 32(4): 342 – 50. Shi L, Leburn L, Tsai J and Zhu J. (2010). Characteristics of Ambulatory Care Patients and Services: A Comparison of Community Health Centers and Physicians’ Offices J Health Care for Poor and Underserved 21 (4): 1169-83. Hing E, Hooker RS, Ashman JJ. (2010). Primary Health Care in Community Health Centers and Comparison with Office-Based Practice. J Community Health. 2011 Jun; 36(3): 406 – 13.
  5. Shi L, Lebrun-Harris LA, Daly CA, et al. Reducing Disparities in Access to Primary Care and Patient Satisfaction with Care: The Role of Health Centers. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. 2013; 24(1):56-66.
  6. George Washington University analysis of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Uniform Data System. Special Data Request, March 2018.
  7. https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/community-health-center-revenues-by-payer-source/?dataView=0&currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

Five ways In Which HealthViewX Referral Management Can Fix The Referral Problems Of Enterprise Hospitals?

Existing Patient Referral Management Workflow in Large Enterprise Hospitals

In order to understand how a patient referral works in a large enterprise hospital, let us consider a scenario,

XYZ hospital is a large enterprise hospital with 10,000 plus PCPs and specialists. It is a busy hospital that sends and receives 1000 plus referrals in a day.

  1. Mark visits the hospital – Mark hurt his leg and was bleeding. Even after three days, the wound did not heal. He visited his PCP, Dr. James. After examining Mark, Dr.James wants him to consult a diabetologist.
  2. Dr.James does the insurance pre-authorization – The PCP does the insurance authorization manually. He places a request with the insurance company and waits for their response. The process takes time and forces Mark to wait. After about four hours, Dr.James gets the consent of the insurance company for the diagnosis.
  3. Dr.James has difficulty finding the right specialist – St.Luke’s hospital had recently acquired a specialty clinic. Dr.James is not aware of the specialists recently added to the network. So he misses the famous diabetologist within the network and looks for someone outside the network. After considering many factors like the patient’s comfort, specialist’s availability, distance from the patient’s residence, specialist’s experience etc, he finally chooses a receiving provider.
  4. Dr.James sends the referral – Dr.James finally sends the referral to Dr.Hales after trying to reach the specialist office via phone. The line seems to be engaged. He looks for many other ways which will be easy to send referrals but to his disappointment, Dr.Hales accepts only referrals through phone or website.
  5. Dr.Hales schedules appointments – After receiving the referral, Dr.Hales schedules an appointment with the patient. Mark was not notified clearly about the appointment. So he fails to show up. It results in revenue loss for the specialist and patient dissatisfaction with the PCP. Mark who is still suffering from pain and waiting for the specialist to examine him. After two missed appointments, Mark finally visits the specialist.
  6. Referral progress updates and loop closure – Throughout the referral process, Dr.James is in the dark. Dr.Hales is busy and fails to give referral updates to Dr.James. He is anxious to know if Mark was taken care of. Without referral updates, Dr.James cannot close the referral loop.

Challenges faced by Enterprise Hospitals

  1. Insurance pre-authorization – The process of waiting for the insurance company to respond and approve the procedures or medication is time-consuming. If this process is automated it would save time and efforts of providers, insurance companies, and patients.
  2. Finding the right receiving provider – As many of the enterprise hospitals are joint ventures or acquisitions, the PCPs are not completely aware of the specialists within their network. Many times, the PCPs refer their patients to specialists out of their network. Finding the right provider outside the network is the greatest challenge as the PCP has to consider many factors. It is time-consuming and prone to errors when done manually.
  3. Patient Referral Leakage – When a PCP refers the patient out-of-network, it leads to referral leakage. PCP can avoid Patient referral leakage if the patient is referred within the network. When that is difficult, patient referral leakage is inevitable. If the patient is referred out-of-network and is not happy with the care given, the chances of the patient coming back to the PCP is less. Referral leakage causes revenue loss and patient dissatisfaction.
  4. Referral Analytics –  As a large number of referrals flow in and out of the network, it is difficult to track the exact number. It is also tedious to track the number of referrals in various status and to close referral loops.
  5. Referral updates and referral loop closure – When PCP refers patients out-of-network, the chances of getting referral updates are minimal. The specialist is usually busy and does not update the referring provider about the referral. Referral updates are crucial in closing referral loops.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management Workflow in Large Enterprise Hospitals

Let us consider the same scenario used earlier and see the benefit of HealthViewX referral software to the existing workflow in Large Enterprise Hospitals,

  1. Mark visits the hospital – Mark hurt his leg and was bleeding. Even after three days, the wound did not heal. He visited his PCP, Dr. James. After examining Mark, Dr.James wants him to consult a diabetologist.
  2. Dr.James does the insurance pre-authorization – The PCP does the insurance authorization in the HealthViewX application. HealthViewX places a request with the insurance company and coordinates with them thereafter. The process takes place quickly and gets over in about 15 minutes Dr.James gets the consent of the insurance company for the diagnosis.
  3. Dr.James finds the right specialist in no time – St.Luke’s hospital had recently acquired a specialty clinic. Dr.James is not aware of the specialists recently added to the network. He need not worry as the HealthViewX application is updated with the current list of providers. With the help of the Intelligent Smart Search feature, Sr.James found the right specialist in his network.
  4. Dr.James sends the referral – Dr.James sends the referral to Dr.Hales via HealthViewX application. It supports many channels of referrals like email, website forms, type-enabled pdf, fax, online forms, etc. With the HealthViewX solution, sending out referrals takes not more than five minutes.
  5. Dr.Hales schedules appointments – After receiving the referral, Dr.Hales schedules an appointment with the patient. Mark is notified clearly about the appointment. He meets the specialist on time and gets treated. This improves his satisfaction and Mark plans to visit the hospital in case of any illness.
  6. Referral progress updates and loop closure – HealthViewX application supports a Timeline View that is available to both the referring and receiving providers. It says all about the referral and its history. Dr.Hales is not required to update Dr.James as it is taken care of by the application. Without referral updates, Dr.James can close the referral loop without any delay. Dr.James can receive feedback about the referral from the patient and the specialist. Depending on their remarks, he can improve the process in future.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution is the best choice for Large Enterprise Hospitals. Are you a Large Enterprise hospital looking for a referral management solution to solve your referral challenges? Schedule a demo with us. Our solution experts will be happy to guide you through our HealthViewX HIPAA compliant Patient Referral Management solution.

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 To Control Patient Referral Leakage In Your Referral Network?

          Health providers in a health system need patients to run their practice profitably. Be it a hospital, health network or private practice, healthcare providers rely on incoming referrals from other health providers and entities. Referrals generate revenue and improve patient retention rate. Providers tend to refer patients to specialists within the same hospital or health network. This is to retain them in the same hospital. A provider should consider factors such as personal relationships, quality outcomes, proximity, insurance coverage and patient preference before referring a patient. When a provider fails to consider these, patient referral leakage is bound to happen.

Patient Referral Leakage

Patient Referral Leakage happens when healthcare providers refer patients out-of-network. Accordingly, patient leakage is sometimes known as network leakage or referral leakage. The following definitions will help in better understanding of patient leakage,

  1. In-Network – In-network refers to medical care within a network of doctors, hospitals, and other health providers who have a contract with a health insurance company. Inside the network, patients seek medical care only from those providers who are under the terms of the health insurance. In-network care is cheaper due to discounted rates that a health insurance company has negotiated ahead of time with the various health networks.
  2. Out-of-Network – Out-of-network refers to patients looking to get medical care outside their current health network. This means that the patients seek care from out-of-network providers who cover their health insurance. Health providers refer patients seeking advanced treatment out-of-network. This is the main reason for patient leakage.

Why does patient referral leakage happen?

Sometimes patient referral leakage is unavoidable. When patients need medical care that is unavailable in their network, the health provider must understand the patient’s needs. The health provider must refer the patient to a specialist or an imaging center depending on the need.

However, there are occasions where in-network providers may refer patients to out-of-network providers on purpose.

  1. Provider’s Repute – Sometimes, a health provider may refer their patients out-of-network to another provider who is more reputable in that specialty. This could be because the current health network has not employed a reputable specialist. The provider must make sure that a patient gets the best treatment possible.
  2. Unaware of Providers in their network – Health providers who have just joined a health network or are a part joint ventures, acquisitions do not know all their specialists. This causes confusion and the health providers refer the patient out-of-network. When a health system fails to make it easy for health providers to refer within the network, patient leakage is inevitable.
  3. Patient’s ChoiceWhen certain treatment or care is not available within a network then it is up to the provider to refer the patient out-of-network. The health provider may recommend a next best course of treatment and the provider to consult for advanced treatment. Patients do tend to take the provider’s advice but it is up to the patient. This is why certain amounts of patient leakage will always exist. If the patient decides to move out of the practice due to unavoidable reasons then referral leakage becomes inevitable.

Why should it be curbed?

  • Patient’s Benefit – The patient may need immediate care and attention. So processing and closing it at the earliest will be the best for the patient. Patient leakage leads to open patient referral loop which will affect the patient’s health.
  • Patient’s Experience – A patient moves out-of-network due to many reasons. Primarily it is because the patient is not satisfied with the medical care provided in the current health system. Patient’s bad experience has a direct effect on hospital’s revenue, the number of incoming referrals, patient crowd, etc. In order to give efficient care to the patients, a health system must prevent patient leakage.
  • Missed Revenue and Reimbursement opportunities – The main problem with patient leakage is the missed revenue opportunities for health systems. These organizations miss out on reimbursement for medical services that they had provided earlier when patient leakage occurs. This applies to healthcare systems that adopt value-based care or payment models such as accountable care organizations (ACOs).
  • Failed relationships with healthcare providers and patients – Patient leakage results in failed relationships with healthcare providers and patients. Many health systems have spent resources on building clinical alignment with their referral network. Unfortunately, when patients go out of the system providers lose their trusted receiving providers.

How to tackle Patient Referral Leakage?

  • Employing right providers – Organizations can cut down patient leakage by employing respected, experienced, and well-regarded providers that they. This will cut down the number of patients who voluntarily go out-of-network. This is because they will find the right provider in their network.
  • Clear communication between physicians and patients – Clear communication between providers and patients is key to creating a positive patient experience and engagement. A health system can decide to give patients control of their own health by implementing an e-consult software. It should allow patients to schedule their own appointments, talk to providers online, order prescriptions, etc.
  • Being transparent in all aspects – The health system must be transparent about prices and pricing structure with the patients. Healthcare providers should give upfront estimates of costs and detailed end-of-care financial statements. Quality metrics is the other part that health networks must make readily available to the patients. It includes patient outcomes, patient satisfaction scores, physician reviews, etc. Ease of use and timely access to best care are crucial aspects of the patient experience. In a health system, it is important for a patient to receive medical care easily and in a timely manner.

How can HealthViewX Referral Management solution help?

Information Technology is transforming healthcare to a great extent. Patient referral leakage never happens with the help of a 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 health insurance pre-authorization, finding the right receiving provider with the help of  “smart search”, etc. After finding the receiving provider, the referral coordinator refers the patient. When the receiving provider receives the referral, the provider will get notified of the referral.
  2. Referral status and timeline view – With the help of a referral status, the referring provider can get to know 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 health provider can generate the timeline view and referral analytics data as a report in any form.
  4. Referral closure and feedback – The referring provider can close the referral when it gets completed. The receiving provider and the patient can give a feedback on the referral process to the referring provider. Thus the referring provider can make it easy for the other the next time.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution smooths the referral process and reduces the burden of the referring and the receiving ends. Referral Management software cuts down patient referral leakage to a considerable number. Do you want to know more about HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution? Schedule a demo with us.