Jim Hammer, COO of Chart Links, was invited again this year to participate in a software roundtable interview with editor of Physcal Therapy Products, Arati Murti. Here are a few of the questions and answers that were exchanged in the January 2010 edition:
PT Products: Budgets are tight in today’s economy; what are practice managers focused on in terms of software features/needs?
Jim Hammer: They’re focused on what really counts-features that provide a tangible return on investment: Compliance in coding and charting that will reduce payor denials and audits; reduce lost charges and increase revenue opportunity; Denial and revenue cycle management that will increase cash flow; and Automation of manual workflow processes (like referral and plan of care management) to create operational efficiencies and reduce labor costs.
PT Products: In what features/business areas can managers save money/time? (What software features can be used differently or combined?)
Jim Hammer: By using software to reduce the phone calls and faxing associated with physician approval of therapist-generated plans of care, both time and money can be saved. At one of our hospital-affiliated outpatient centers, both therapists and physicians were documenting electronically. However, the authorization process between the two systems required manual intervention with printing, sorting, bundling, faxing, scanning, and data input. Chart Links created a real-time interface to eliminate the manual paper chase in the workflow. By eliminating backlogs of unauthorized paper plans of care, the client has delivered quicker continuity of care (time) and has reduced billing delays (money).
PT Products: What’s the most challenging business “bottleneck” that you hear of from your customers, and how can software help avoid that situation?
Jim Hammer: Plan of care authorization management is still a manually burdensome and paper-laden process in our industry. Time is lost making phone calls, printing, signing, faxing, and waiting for paper forms to be authorized. With a Health Level 7 (HL7) interface and workflow automation, this process can be transformed into the electronic age to avoid the unnecessary paper chase.
PT Products: In terms of software needs in 2010, what are the important differences in concerns for hospitals/facilities versus private practices?
Jim Hammer: Data exchange. Hospital-affiliated outpatient rehabilitation centers must focus on how they will connect to the hospital information system and to local area referring physicians via Health Level 7 (HL7) interfaces. Standards and definition around health information exchange will be critical in the coming year.