In Episode #9, Mary Pat answers one of the questions she gets most often on the site: Can You Charge Patients a Fee for Payment Plans?
Since its release in 2008, Internet File Storage tool Dropbox has been a big hit with people who have to keep track of files on multiple computers. Users can download a free program that lets them upload files to the cloud (see: a server or servers connected to the Internet), and then can access the files on any other device: other PCs or Macs, any web browser, even a smartphone or tablet. The program puts a small, dropbox in the bottom corner of the user’s screen and any file dragged into the icon is automatically uploaded. When the user looks at the dropbox on another device, the file is there waiting.
Dropbox has been wildly popular because it is extremely useful: it saves people time and makes them more productive, and is free for the first 2GB of storage. Users can either earn more free storage by referring friends to the program, or purchase more storage with plans that start at $9.99 per month. There are also group plans that allow for centralized file sharing.
In fact, some of your employees could be using Dropbox in your practice right now to let them work from home or the road, or sync multiple work computers, or even give them access to work data on their mobile devices. As all healthcare management professionals know, this has the potential to be a huge problem. The data that is handled in many daily tasks in a medical practice is protected not only by patient confidentiality, but also by federal regulations with some serious financial teeth. On Dropboxs website, they go after the question head on:
“Unfortunately, Dropbox does not currently have HIPAA, FERPA, SAS 70, ISO 9001, ISO 27001, or PCI certifications. We’ll update this page with any new certifications as we receive them, so please do check back”
Doug Palmer is a practice management, billing and coding and revenue cycle consultant with over 17 years of experience in the industry. He was nice enough to answer some questions for our readers about his experiences and where he sees coding going in the future.
MMP: How did you get started in coding?
Doug: I started in the industry as a medical biller with a billing company in NY City. In a rather short period of time, I became familiar with the coding systems (COT, ICD-9, and HCPCS) and began to want to know more. I also wanted to know more about the overall Revenue Cycle Process. That starting point in billing led me to coding for several reasons. Aside from personal and professional development, I realized that I would be more marketable with that skill set. I was right. As I learned more and more about codingmore and more opportunities seemed to come my way.
MMP: What type of coding education and certification do you have?
Doug: I have gotten most of my education in coding on the job. I have attended many seminars, CEU courses, internal education opportunities with employers, etc., however, I have never matriculated into any formal or long term courses of study in coding other than a BS in Health Administration which did not specifically focus on coding. At the same time, with my CCS-P Certification through AHIMA, I have taught coding and related courses both in a formal classroom environment in several adult education schools as well as providing on site education as well as web based instruction to other coders as well as medical providers across the country.
MMP: What was your first coding consultant position and how did it come about?
In Episode #8, Mary Pat details how to handle one of the practice manager’s most sensitive duties: dismissing delinquent or problem patients.
If you have, please consider taking a few minutes to fill out the post-Audit survey being compiled and made available free by the Frank Cohen Group. This is the last week the survey is being offered, so hurry!
“Just a reminder that the RAC audits and appeals survey will close on Monday the 17th – so if you haven’t responded, please do so as soon as possible. The results of this survey will be passed along to congressional representatives to aid in their case for creating an accountability provision for the RAC auditors. It has become quite obvious that RACs have become far too aggressive and zealous with regard to their audit tactics and findings, invalidating their original purpose. The concern is that, by acting in an abusive manner, RACs are actually adding to the cost of healthcare, not reducing it.
The survey is only six questions and takes less than three minutes to complete; so I urge anyone who has been subject to a RAC audit in the past year to please respond. You can access the survey at www.FrankCohenGroup.com by clicking on the Surveys tab.
Thanks again for your help. I will be publishing the results shortly after the survey has closed.”
Taking the survey is a great, quick way to have your voice as a medical practice manager heard by policymakers and the voting public at large. Take advantage of it!
What does a chemistry analyzer analyze?
Chemistry tests fall into two broad categories, routine (also called general) and immunochemistry. This article will address routine chemistry testing in a medical practice laboratory and the next installment in this series will cover immunochemistry testing.
Routine chemistries encompass those tests that are measured by any of four methods:
- Mixing serum or plasma with chemicals that create color when they react with whatever is being measured.
- Measuring the effects of enzymes on substrates.
- The use of Ion Selective Electrodes (to measure electrolytes like sodium and potassium.)
- Nephelometry, which is creating precipitates that cause cloudiness and measuring that cloudiness (used much less frequently used than the other three methods.)
The routine chemistry tests that are most often ordered in a physician office lab (POL) are those in these CPT-defined test panels:
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (14 tests)
- Basic Metabolic Panel (8 tests)
- Hepatic Function Panel (7 – 9 tests)
- Lipid Panel (4-6 tests)
The most commonly ordered individual tests are glucose, potassium, and total cholesterol.
Design differences in chemistry analyzers
With the Republican convention now completed and the Democratic convention in full swing, it’s interesting to observe how both parties attempt to brand their candidates as being the most reliable and trustworthy. As citizens we try to understand each candidate’s policy positions, and decide whether or not we feel they will be able to deliver on these promises. In the final analysis, it often comes down to which candidate we believe is most trustworthy.
In business, maintaining a culture founded on high ethical principles is not only the right thing to, it’s simply the smart thing to do. Business consultant and author Tom Peters says -
“There is no such thing as a minor lapse of integrity.”