Therapy Documentation Software Return On Investment

January 5, 2009 · Posted in Compliance, Documentation, Reimbursement, Scheduling, Workflow 

When it comes to automating therapy documentation, funding is one of the biggest challenges outpatient rehab facilities face.

If you’re struggling to make a compelling business case for electronic medical records to your hospital board of directors, consider all of the operational areas that will yield quantifiable results.  As you build your case, marry up metrics to timeframes as a part of your formula for return on investment.

Efficiency Improvements

When you automate therapy appointments, appointment reminders, referral management, authorization tracking, evaluations, plans of care, progress notes,  flow sheets, and more; information can be called up and acted on almost immediately.  List out and quantify all of the administrative task time this saves.  Consider improvements in communications alone as it relates to time spent on referrals, authorizations and appointment reminders.    The staff productivity gained allows for major improvements in therapist work flow which, over time, allows more patients to be seen in the same amount of time.

Cost Savings

One of the greatest cost savings brought by electronic therapy documentation is the elimination of transcription costs.  Because therapists enter clinical documentation directly into the system, traditional paper-based methods are greatly reduced, if not eliminated.  Determine your current cost per therapist or per page for transcription.  Estimate, conservatively, a reduction in transcription costs.  This will likely be one of the most significant contributors to your overall cost savings with an electronic therapy documentation system.  Don’t forget to consider other paper chart costs in the ROI equation:

  • supplies for creating and storing charts (from folders, stickers and dividers to cabinets)
  • labor expenses for managing chart pulls, filing and audits
  • copying expenses for documentation to attorneys, payers and physicians

Revenue Enhancements

Electronic therapy documentation opens new doors for driving revenue that should be considered as a part of return on investment.  Consider how much more compliant, complete and accurate documentation becomes when it has the checks and balances of automation.  Coding levels and claim errors correlate directly to documentation of the encounter.  When therapy documentation occurs electronically, therapists report greater confidence levels as it pertains to Correct Coding Initiative (CCI) Edits, Medicare time tracking (or the eight minute rule), authorization tracking, and other compliance issues that can help or inhibit proper reimbursement.  Consider improvements in billing accuracy as a part of your ROI analysis.

Quality Improvements

Some of the less tangible returns of electronic therapy documentation include quality.  In most cases, electronic documentation allows for quicker, more legible, better organized and more comprehensive patient documentation overall.  Across the outpatient rehab facility, automation standardizes clinical documentation, reducing inconsistencies in structure,  poor handwriting, and lag time in documentation and approvals.  Patient education sheets are readily accessible and up to date.  Plan of care reports are auto-generated from the evaluation, able to be monitored, electronically signed, and faxed from the desktop.  These and many other improvements in quality should be considered in ROI.

Summary

In an outpatient setting, electronic therapy documentation impacts both the therapist and staff productivity.  A good business case for return on investment should focus on

  • efficiency improvements
  • cost savings
  • revenue enhancements
  • quality improvements

If you need help putting together your Return on Investment business case for an electronic therapy documentation system, please contact us.

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