Sebelius is Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services

April 29, 2009 · Posted in Industry News · Comment 

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has been approved by the Senate as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.  In this role, Sebelius will be a major player in the implementation of the health information technology provisions of the economic stimulus law.

Speech and Hearing Center Reduces Therapy Documentation Turnaround Time

April 24, 2009 · Posted in Documentation, Speech Therapy · Comment 

Since using Chart Links speech therapy documentation software, Columbus Speech & Hearing Center has virtually eliminated redundant data entry and reduced clinical documentation turnaround time from two weeks down to a few days. This increased efficiency has enabled the Center to add clinicians while decreasing its clerical staff.

Completing and filing clinical documentation posed challenges for the Center before it began using Chart Links. For proper billing, every patient encounter needs to be documented with a progress note. However, progress notes often got lost, were illegible or didn’t get completed in a timely fashion. With Chart Links, clinicians are able to easily complete the progress notes within the system, and business managers can use the system to monitor the status of progress notes before backlogs get out of control.

Similarly, evaluation and treatment documents used to be handwritten by clinicians and sent to word processors to type. The manual process used to take two to three weeks to complete and included typing the notes, clarifying illegible or unclear notes, as well incorporating one to two revisions before the document was finalized. Now, clinicians can enter their evaluation and treatment notes directly into the system, and – once again – business managers can track the status of the process along the way. “Now it’s very easy for the department director to go into the system and see who hasn’t done their evaluation reports or their treatment reports, which helps us avoid major backlogs and helps to ensure we remain compliant with our accreditation and quality standards,” says Karen Deeter, director of operations at the Center.

The increased productivity and efficiency facilitated by Chart Links has enabled the organization to add clinicians, while decreasing the size of its clerical staff.

The Center is realizing the benefits of moving away from paper-based processes. “Chart Links is helping us transition toward the use of electronic documentation throughout our practice, and has substantially reduced the hassles of tracking and filing paper-based documents,” said Dawn Gleason, president and CEO of the Center. “We are now entering electronic audiology files into the system, and we’re able to scan in the historical patient records for the patients who we see on an ongoing basis. Overall, Chart Links has helped us improve our workflow and reduce administrative tasks.”

Based in Columbus, Ohio, the Columbus Speech & Hearing Center serves nearly 10,000 people across Ohio. Center services include: audiology and hearing aid services; speech-language and occupational therapy; as well as the Comprehensive Program for the Deaf, a job placement program for adults who are hard-of-hearing or deaf. The Center collaborates with numerous other agencies and community organizations in a full-time program of education, testing, evaluation, therapy and vocational counseling at the Center, throughout Central Ohio, and across the state.

Read more about our speech therapy documentation software.

Read the full case study on Columbus Speech & Hearing Center.

Red Flag Rule Becomes Effective May 1, 2009

April 15, 2009 · Posted in Industry News · Comment 

Physical therapists and other providers who provide services to patients without requiring those patients to pay in full at the time of service will need to comply with new “Red Flag Rules” on May 1.

Red Flag rules require the development of a written Identity Theft Prevention Program. Medical identity theft refers to situations when someone uses a person’s name and other parts of their identity, such as insurance information, without the person’s knowledge or consent to obtain medical services or goods.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has indicated that these rules will apply to physicians, other health care professionals, and providers. 

With the May 1 deadline fast approaching, the American Medical Association has requested the FTC to suspend application of the red flag rules to physicians and other health care professionals

Source:  American Physical Therapy Association’s PT Bulletin Online, current issue.

A copy of the FTC letter on the red flag rules is available at

Hospital Incentives Under Economic Stimulus Package

April 9, 2009 · Posted in Industry News · Comment 

Prepared by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), here are some of the estimates of what could be paid in Medicare incentive payments from 2011 to 2014 for hospitals meeting the yet-to-be-determined “meaningful use” standards of electronic health records under the  American Recovery and Reinvestment  Act:

  • 75-bed hospital, up to $3.5 million
  • 250-bed hospital, up to $5.7 million
  • 750-bed hospital, up to $11.2 million

Legislation Aims to Increase Access to Physical Therapist Services by Eliminating Physican Referral Requirement

April 6, 2009 · Posted in Industry News · Comment 

Medicare beneficiaries who need physical therapist services would find it easier and more efficient to obtain treatment under legislation introduced yesterday in the US House of Representatives. The Medicare Patient Access to Physical Therapists Act (HR 1829) would allow physical therapists to evaluate and treat Medicare Part B beneficiaries who require outpatient physical therapy services, in states in which direct access is authorized, without a physician’s referral or certification of the plan of care.

“Direct access under Medicare would remove unnecessary barriers to the cost-effective rehabilitation services provided by physical therapists,” said APTA President R Scott Ward, PT, PhD. “Currently these health care consumers, which include seniors and people with disabilities, often have the greatest need for physical therapy services and experience unnecessary burdens to access these services. The referral/certification process can often cause delays that can impede a patient’s ability to achieve his or her optimal functional outcome. In light of today’s economic environment, timely access to cost-effective physical therapy services for Medicare beneficiaries is critical.”

Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have eliminated the physician referral requirement for patients to access physical therapists for an evaluation, while 44 states and DC allow access to some form of physical therapy treatment without referral. This legislation would defer to the state law on access regarding physical therapy.

A Senate companion bill is expected to be introduced in the next several weeks.

[Source:  APTA]