Software Advice, a trusted resource for buyers of software, recently published findings from a three-year study following the changing demand drivers among prospective buyers of eclectronic health record (EHR) software.
The study captured data over two sample periods: Q1 2010 (shortly after the HITECH Act was signed into law) and Q1 2013. In both sample periods, the reasons providers expressed interest in purchasing EHR software broadly fell into the following categories:
• Replacing paper records;
• Replacing existing EHR software;
• Opening a new practice;
• Replacing other software that wasn’t specifically designed for medical records; or
• Some combination of the above.
For both sample periods, replacing paper records was the most-mentioned reason for EHR purchases. However, the percentage of practices replacing paper records fell significantly from 2010 to 2013, while the percentage of respondents replacing existing software grew by almost 50 percent.
These findings seem to validate a hypothesis that the HITECH Act spurred some practices to adopt EHRs too hastily. For providers, this highlights the importance of having a rigorous selection process in place before making a purchase.
Digging deeper into the data allows us to determine why practices are replacing existing EHRs.
Mentions of being “unhappy with current EHR” grew by 11 percent from 2010 to 2013. Additionally, concerns with cost rose significantly, from only one mention in 2010 to being mentioned by one out of every eight participants in 2013. Customer service concerns grew by nearly 50 percent.
The percentage of buyers replacing paper charts decreased from 64.9 percent in 2010 to 50.9 percent in 2013.
In both 2010 and 2013, the top reasons practices mentioned for switching from paper to electronic records had to do with the general benefits of a paperless environment – decreasing paperwork, improving efficiency, and becoming more organized. These motivations suggest practices are interested in more than just stimulus dollars; they also seem to recognize the inherent value of electronic records.
Among potential EHR buyers, we observed a decline in the proportion of practices transitioning from paper to electronic records, contrasted with an increase in the proportion of practices replacing existing software. What our data points don’t show, by virtue of only including buyers in the market for an EHR, are the many providers who are not replacing their EHR solutions – those who have successfully implemented electronic records with great benefit to their practices.
With EHR replacements on the rise, we conclude by emphasizing the need for practices to perform due diligence before making a purchase decision. Careful research can be awarded with a system that contributes to improved patient outcomes as well as increased financial health for practices.
David Fried originally contributed this report to Software Advice, where he currently covers medical practice management, the EMR industry, and political and regulatory issues affecting doctors. View the full report, including methodology and limiting factors, here: Four Years Later: The Impact of the HITECH Act on EHR Implementations.
CMS Releases Transmittal 2603
Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released Transmittal 2603 regarding the claims-based data collection requirement for Medicare Part B outpatient therapy services. Affecting claims for physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT) and speech-language pathology (SLP), the mandate requires the reporting of 42 new nonpayable functional G-codes and seven new severity/ complexity modifiers.
These new codes and modifiers will be required on selected claims for all outpatient therapy services. They will provide information about functional status at the outset of care, at specified points during treatment and at the conclusion of care.
Although this claims-based reporting will be effective for dates of service on and after January 1, 2013, CMS has enacted a testing period to give therapists time to ensure that systems work. Claims without the G-codes and modifiers will be processed during a testing period from January 1, 2103 through June 30, 2013. It is not until July 1, 2013 that claims might be rejected as a result of improper claims-based data reporting.
Chart Links to Release Software Solution
With CMS business requirements now released, Chart Links is developing a software solution that accommodates claims-based data collection. The software will be released for testing prior to the deadline of July 1, 2013.
If you have any questions or concerns about this impending reporting requirement, please contact Chart Links, developers of rehabilitation software.
The Practice Department of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has recently developed a resource called “Defensive Documentation for Patient/Client Management.” The tool was created in response to issues related to physical therapy documentation. APTA members can access the documentation here.
One of our Chart Links Rehabilitation Software users, Debbie Flaspohler, OTR, MOT, CLT and manager of occupational therapy at Margaret Mary Community Hospital in Batesville, Ind., was recently quoted in an article called “Meaningful Change,” written by Teresa Mcusic from TodayInOT.com. Reveiw some of her quotes extracted below, or, read the full article.
Debbie Flaspohler, OTR, MOT, CLT, manager of occupational therapy, Margaret Mary Community Hospital in Batesville, Ind., says she was comfortable using her facility’s Chart Links LLC rehabilitation software within a few weeks. “It was an easy program to move around in,” she says. “And Chart Links did a good job of coming and doing orientation. A team came and spent about a week with us. Also, they have a help desk, so when we got stuck, we could call them.”
The legibility and standardization of electronic records are major benefits over hand-written paper charts, therapists say. The electronic documentation also is more concise, Flaspohler says. “It looks more professional,” she says. “These are a legal document used for reimbursement. Clarity and accuracy are really important.”
Such precision also helps with more consistency among healthcare team members, Flaspohler says. “It helps everybody document the way they are supposed to,” she says. “It’s not black and white — you can modify the way you want to — but it makes you fill out what you need to fill out.”
The systems also can be tailored to include information on interventions for patients with conditions the therapists don’t often encounter, Flaspohler says. “For diagnoses you normally don’t see, you can pull in components from the system for a segment on that,” she says.
For more information about Chart Links Rehabilitation software for occupational therapists, visit our website.
Chart Links offers physical therapy documentation software designed to match the workflow of a physical rehabilitation facility.
In addition to administrative and financial features like patient registration, referral management, insurance authorization, cross-discipline scheduling, charges, reporting/analytics, and outcomes, Chart Links offers the following physical therapy-specific features.
- PT Evaluations. Standard physical therapy documentation and evaluation forms library (i.e., cervical spine, shoulder, ankle). Contains numerous sections with the ability to customize into sets and forms.
- PT Flow Sheets. Electronic management of daily flow sheets (i.e., shoulder therex, exercise) with ability to analyze progress over time. Ability to link flow sheets to progress notes.
- Scheduling. Ability to schedule patient with PTA and PT in one easy-to-use feature.
- Patient Arrival Notification. Using our physical therapy documentation software, PT may receive a page on his/her beeper to be notified when a patient has checked in at the front desk.
- Wireless Access. Allows for un-tethered documentation (i.e., document in a wireless gym setting with hardware on a rolling cart, or, use a handheld wireless tablet PC).
- PT Patient Education. Print-on-demand patient handouts (i.e., home programs, exercises). Instructional and educational materials are available for customization and distribution. Ability to scan-in existing sheets or create-your-own. Ability to interface to third-party electronic formats.
- Authorizations. Monitor authorized visits for PT evaluation and follow-up visits.
- Compliance. Support of compliance efforts with JCAHO, CARF, HIPAA and other rehabilitation professional standards. Helps ensure compliance with Medicare CCI edits, modifiers and time tracking while documenting.
For more information, visit Chart Links at www.chartlinks.com
An article summarizing how Chart Links Rehabilitation Software streamlined the clinical and financial operations of an outpatient rehab practice recently got published in the Jan/Feb 2011 Rehab Management magazine. Read the full article below or link to it here.
by Andrea Marchi, PT, MBA, CSCS
EMR streamlines rehab practice’s clinical and financial operations.
Many therapists are considering the implementation of electronic medical record (EMR) solutions, but hesitate on making the purchase because they aren’t sure exactly how the technology will help their practice.
Our practice had the same concern initially, so we thoroughly evaluated the areas where an EMR could improve our business. It was quickly apparent that paper-based processes had a stranglehold on our practice. We suffered from many of the challenges other practices experience, such as: misplaced patient records; incomplete, untimely documentation impacting the billing process or regulatory compliance; productivity and financial performance data that was several months old by the time it was compiledWith the industry steadily moving toward widespread adoption of EMRs, we wanted to get ahead of the curve. Our facility, HealthPoint Rehab, which is affiliated with Southeast Hospital, handles about 33,600 patient visits annually out of two outpatient rehabilitation centers located in Cape Girardeau and Jackson, Mo.
There are numerous EMRs designed for physician practice specialties, but few that address the specific needs of rehab centers. We found a system designed to accommodate our team of 25 therapists engaged in physical, occupational, speech, and specialty therapies. Our system automates workflow for cross-discipline scheduling, referrals, insurance authorizations, clinical documentation, charges, and more. It includes Health Level 7 (HL7) interfaces to our hospital information system for effortless exchange of data. Most importantly, it supports our efforts to comply with professional standards while running an efficient business.
After a comprehensive system selection process, we implemented a software system in January 2009. The following information details how the technology has helped our organization over the past 2 years.
The biggest benefit we immediately noticed was the timely documentation of patient treatments. We have desktop computers installed within private exam rooms and laptop carts in our open gym spaces. Most of our therapists complete the treatment notes during the patient visit, while others finish after the visit.
In contrast, it took us much longer to get our initial evaluation paperwork to the physicians’ offices when we relied on dictation, transcription, and snail mail. We used to employ a full-time transcriptionist, but we have since eliminated the position and use the system’s faxing software to electronically fax our documentation to the physicians.
The structure of our daily notes within the software system has allowed our therapists to document procedures in a very clean and concise format. Another benefit is that our software system can ensure compliance with insurance regulations and therapy standards. During the documentation process, the system alerts therapists if they do not complete sections of the note that are necessary to comply with requirements from Medicare and The Joint Commission.
Using the EMR has helped us improve our billing process. Since charts are electronic and always available to the billing specialists when they need them, we complete our billing in a much more timely manner. We no longer waste time searching for the paper chart.
Unlike most EMRs, our rehab-specific solution has therapy-based billing capabilities built right into it. Correct coding initiative (CCI) edits built into the system help prevent errors that can result in returned claims or rejections from payors. The latest CCI edit table is automatically downloaded into the charge table, so we are always working from the most current version. Our system automatically reviews charges as they are being entered and alerts users if charges are improperly grouped or are missing modifiers. Using the system gives us the confidence that we are doing our billing correctly the first time, so we don’t have to worry about rebilling later in order to fix errors.
Further assisting our billing efforts is an interface that connects the system to the Meditech hospital information system at Southeast Missouri Hospital. The interface allows the systems to exchange information for billing and results, as well as admission, discharge, and transfer data. The result is a reduction in duplicate data entry.
The tracking capabilities of the EMR also help with compliance, especially when it comes to ensuring that physicians sign plans of care following initial patient evaluations. The system’s reporting capabilities enable therapists and front-office workers to easily view all plans of care that have not been signed by physicians, which helps accelerate follow-ups. And in cases where physician signatures have not been obtained, it tracks the number of times the plan of care was faxed by the system to a physician for signature. This tracking capability helps rehab clinics demonstrate their due diligence in trying to obtain signatures, which is Medicare compliant.
Prescriptions for therapy are also tracked. Upon receiving a physician’s prescription for therapy, it is entered into the system along with the number of visits that are prescribed or allowed by insurance. It also reports patients who have prescriptions that are about to expire, so the front-office can ensure we continue to treat patients with a current prescription.
A simple-to-use ad hoc analysis tool enables us to analyze practice trends, develop universal metrics, measure long-term changes, and gather operational decision-support data. Using the EMR’s analytics package, we have been able to analyze cancellation rates by patient type, determine our top referral sources by physician or physician group practice, track the number and type of CPT code charges, as well as proactively monitor staff productivity.
For example, by using the analytics module, we discovered that pediatric speech patients had the highest number of visit cancellations. Each cancellation negatively impacts our revenue and therapist productivity, so we developed new cancellation policies—applied to all patient types—to help curb the problem. By making patients aware of the new policy, we have been able to decrease our cancellation rate from 18% to 13%.
We also use the analytics module to track therapist productivity based on hours worked and units billed. In the past, we had one of our secretaries compile data to measure therapist productivity, but the process was cumbersome, and results were not available for 2 to 3 months after the time frame measured. Now, productivity is calculated weekly, so therapists can proactively monitor their productivity, which has been a wonderful management tool.
Another area we monitor with the analytics module is tracking referral sources. We can see exactly which physicians and physician clinics refer the most patients to us, which guides us in building relationships and growing our business.
The productivity of our front-office has been greatly improved by using the new system’s electronic scheduling capabilities. Now, scheduling is easy; as information can be clicked, dragged, copied, and pasted rather than entered manually. Also, scheduling multiple visits can be done all at once instead of creating individual appointments.
Front-office productivity is further enhanced by the system’s automated paging capabilities. Upon patient check-in, the system automatically sends an alphanumeric page to the corresponding therapist to let them know that the patient has arrived. Previously, the receptionist manually dialed the therapist’s numeric pager and during busy periods, it would be several minutes following the patient’s arrival before the secretary was able to send the page. In a business that bills based on time and units, a 3- to 5-minute delay can be the difference of billing an additional unit of service. In that regard, something as simple as automated paging may eventually lead to increases in revenue for us.
The EMR we selected has complemented our workflows and helped our practice improve productivity and documentation.
The most vital component to our successful EMR usage is that we selected a solution designed to operate in our business environment. The system’s rehab-specific capabilities allow our practice to automate the processes that matter most to our business. After using the solution for nearly 2 years, we can’t imagine doing our jobs without it.
Andrea Marchi, PT, MBA, CSCS, is the rehab manager at Southeast Missouri Hospital, HealthPoint Rehab, Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Chart Links, a provider of rehabilitation workflow management software, announces the implementation of its electronic therapy documentation and scheduling by 15 therapists at Tuomey Healthcare System’s Outpatient Rehab Services.
Rehab Services is a leading provider of outpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy, sports medicine, cardiac rehabilitation, developmental pediatrics, audiology and speech therapy in South Carolina. Located in the Tuomey Medical Park, Rehab Services includes physical therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapy assistants, certified athletic trainers, therapy technicians and administrative staff. The facility treats 150-200 patients per day.
“We researched systems for about a year,” says Jerry Shadbolt, M.Ed., ATC and Outpatient Clinical Manager. “We found Chart Links to be the most user-friendly and modifiable to meet our needs. Our goal was to make our clinicians as efficient and productive as possible by ridding ourselves of the paper. Chart Links is a flexible program offering us a variety of documentation templates — from pediatrics to ortho to spine.”
Chart Links software streamlines all of the daily tasks associated with a patient’s physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, or audiology visits. The software manages adult and pediatric therapy treatment by automating evaluations, flow sheets, progress notes, patient education, clinical correspondence, and plans of care. It also manages payer compliance, provider reimbursement, outcomes reporting, administrative functions, business intelligence and enterprise productivity.
“From a management perspective,” says Shadbolt, “Chart Links keeps our clinicians compliant and accountable. We now have fewer incomplete documents at the end of the day. And, when it comes to reporting, there will be less of a ‘beastly effort’ to gather data and measure productivity. Overall, I give the product a high grade.”
Affiliated with 301-bed hospital Tuomey Regional Medical Center, Rehab Services has also implemented an interface from MEDITECH, the hospital’s information system, to Chart Links. Components of the interface include registration and billing data.
“Management of authorizations is one area that has greatly improved,” says Renee Brown, Office Manager. “We used to depend on the manual tracking efforts of our therapists and staff. Now, authorizations are automatically tracked in the system.”
About Chart Links, LLC
For over 15 years, Chart Links has developed rehabilitation software that automates workflow for referrals, insurance authorizations, cross-discipline scheduling, documentation, charges, and more. Chart Links allows medical rehabilitation facilities to be more efficient and to provide a higher quality of care by delivering results in the areas of compliance, outcomes, analytics and revenue. For more information about Chart Links, visithttp://www.chartlinks.com
About Tuomey Healthcare System’s Rehab Services
Tuomey’s Rehab Services team works every day to deliver personalized rehabilitation plans to help patients optimize their potential for good health. With an on-site physician, complete range of rehab services, world-class equipment and a team of rehab specialists, the rehab program is recognized as the finest and most comprehensive in the region. Tuomey rehab programs include physical therapy, occupational therapy, sports medicine, cardiac rehabilitation, developmental pediatrics, audiology and speech therapy. For more information, go to http://www.tuomey.com/facilities/tuomeymedicalpark.aspx
In 2010, National Government Services received a request for reconsideration of the Outpatient Physical and Occupational Therapy local coverage determination (LCD) (L26884) to include International Classification of Diseases, Clinical Modification, 9th Revision (ICD-9-CM) codes V57.1-V57.89 as correct coding. Review of the ICD-9-CM manual indicated that the request was technically correct, and therefore the requirement was included in the May 2010 draft revision to the LCD. Numerous comments were received from all National Government Services jurisdictions that such coding was redundant and created additional burden for providers.
The National Government Services medical directors and policy staff agreed with these comments, and sought further guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) about whether these diagnosis codes needed to be included in the LCD. CMS has indicated that although the ICD-9-CM manual does include this recommendation, contractors did not have to include these diagnoses in the LCD.
Consequently, the LCD and supplemental instruction article (SIA) are revised, effective November 1, 2010, to delete coding instructions that required ICD-9-CM codes V57.1-V57.89 be included as the primary diagnosis on all therapy claims. Furthermore, National Government Services will not require these diagnosis codes as primary or subsequent codes. National Government Services does, however, note that such a recommendation does exist in the ICD-9-CM manual. If providers use these codes, they must also include the diagnosis code of the specific medical condition for which each therapy service was provided.
To see the document on the NGS website, click on www.NGSMedicare.com, select your Business Type and your Region and click “Go.” On the Provider Specific Portal Home Page, under News and Publications, click on What’s New from the drop down menu.
Source: Gawenda Seminars & Consulting
When documenting physical or occupational therapy visits on paper, much time and labor is spent getting the initial evaluation paperwork to the physicians’ offices. Many therapists rely on dictation, transcription and snail mail to document patient treatment and then communicate with physician offices. As our clients implement Chart Links Rehabilitation Software, we see them eliminating transcription costs by documenting electronically, and, we see them replacing snail mail or printing and faxing with an e-fax solution integrated into the electronic documentation software. These automated processes allow the documentation to get to the physician offices quicker.
One of the biggest benefits immediately realized with electronic therapy documentation is reduced time it takes to document patient treatments. Chart Links customers typically have desktop computers installed within private exam rooms and laptop carts in open gym spaces. Multi-discipline flow sheets easily track patients’ exercises and treatments from visit to visit, making data collection and entry easier than ever. Most therapists complete the treatment notes during the patient visit so that the patient chart is complete soon after the patient leaves the facility.
If you’d like to learn more about Chart Links electronic therapy documentation, visit www.chartlinks.com.
In a recently-published article entitled “Providing a New Connection: Margaret Mary Community Hospital (MMCH) Launches Innovative EMR Solution,” TherapyTimes.com featured the success story of one of Chart Links’ customers from Batesville, IN.
MMCH runs an off-site Outpatient Rehabilitation Center that handles more than 15,000 patient visits annually. The rehab facility employs 21 therapists providing physical, occupational, and speech therapies. The story covers their transition from paper-based to electronic therapy scheduling as well their transition from and existing therapy documentation tool to Chart Links.
MMCH currently uses Chart Links Rehabilitation Software as its end-to-end, niche-specific software solution that ensures documentation accuracy, improves workflow, saves time, streamlines scheduling and generally makes life easier for a totally rehab-focused facility.
With therapists on staff to provide clinical expertise, Chart Links develops, installs, implements and supports a therapy electronic medical record (EMR). We employ a team of software development, implementation and support experts that are with our clients every step of the way.
Our team determines how best to link an electronic patient chart to each critical resource in your outpatient rehabilitation facility. Together, we’ll map out
- How to engineer the system and design the network
- Which systems we’ll need to interface too
- How to prepare your therapists and office staff for implementation
- How to apply technology to your current work flows with the least disruption to staff
- Which reports will help you best manage your facility
If your outpatient rehabilitation facility is currently evaluating electronic therapy documentation systems, please contact Chart Links at www.chartlinks.com
In their August issue, Physical Therapy Products interviewd physical therapists across the country about the business software they utilize. Chart Links’ user Andrea Marchi, PT, MBA, CSCS from Southeast Missouri Hospital’s HealthPoint Rehab in Cape Girardeau, MO participated in the interviews. Here is what Andrea, the Rehab Manager at this two-location, hospital-based outpatient facility had to say about Chart Links rehabilitation software:
What led you to choose software from this company? Ultimately, we chose ChartLinks for the customization opportunities to best suit our wide range of specialties and disciplines. ChartLinks was able to best fit our needs. [For more information, go to http://www.chartlinks.com/]
What improvements have you seen in daily practice as a result of implementing this software? We have heightened awareness of our trends and reporting for better practice management. Scheduling, especially multidiscipline appointments, is easier and more efficient. Our therapists’ documentation is timelier. [For more information, go to http://www.chartlinks.com/therapy-scheduling.html and/or http://www.chartlinks.com/therapy-documentation.html]
What advice do you have for PTs who are currently in the market for new business software?Choose a system that will be end-user friendly and provides excellent customer support after go-live. [For more information, go to http://www.chartlinks.com/services.html]
What is the best feature of this software? ChartLinks’ has improved our daily efficiency, compliance, and business management. ChartLinks’ Analytics system sets it apart from the competition. With Analytics, we can easily create customizable reports. [For more information, go to http://www.chartlinks.com/analyzedata.html]
What was the implementation process like for this software? Chartlinks’ staff coached us weekly for approximately 8 months. Prior to go-live, we spent two weekends transitioning our documentation/schedule to electronic records followed by transition time for our therapists before returning them to a more typical workload. [For more information, go to http://www.chartlinks.com/services.html]
Are you interested in “diving in” to a comprehensive workflow management system for outpatient therapy management? Contact Chart Links at http://www.chartlinks.com/contact.html
Flow sheets are one form of documentation used by physical therapists in the daily notes for patient care. They provide a format for documenting exercises, repetitions and weights.
In Chart Links’ Rehabilitation Software, flow sheets provide electronic management of clinical data entry and review of patient progress over time. Flow sheets can accommodate multi-disciplinary documentation requirements and may be linked to progress notes and charges.
Visit the Chart Links website for more information about electronic physical therapy documentation.
HealthPoint Rehab (www.healthpointplaza.com), a service of Southeast Missouri Hospital, comprises two outpatient rehabilitation centers located in Cape Girardeau and Jackson, Missouri. Combined, the centers employ 25 therapists engaged in physical, occupational, speech and specialty therapies including orthopedic, neurological, myofascial and lymphedema. The two centers handle about 33,600 total patient visits annually.
Realizing the inexorable trend toward electronic medical records, the HealthPoint management team decided to abandon its paper-based system and make a comprehensive search for an advanced electronic solution.
“We knew the need for EMR was coming,” said Andrea Marchi, PT, MBA, CSCS, HealthPoint rehab manager. “We wanted to get ahead of the curve and have plenty of time to make the right decision. That’s when we began a search that led us to Chart Links – a choice we couldn’t be happier with.”
Chart Links offered a product customizable to HealthPoint’s suite of multi-discipline therapeutic services. “We needed a system that could effectively address and document our many different specialty areas and Chart Links was the only one that had this capability.”
A Compliant Documentation Process
Chart Links Rehabilitation Software is driven by major accreditation, professional, information technology and security standards. It supports compliance with JCAHO, CARF, AOTA, APTA, HIPAA and other rehabilitation professional standards. The system’s documentation helps ensure compliance with Medicare Correct Coding Initiative (CCI) Edits, modifiers and time tracking.
Marchi feels more at ease with proper documentation compliance. “Our compliance is virtually guaranteed because, in a progress note or evaluation section, Chart Links prompts for JCAHO and Medicare documentation in a way that you cannot miss or ignore.”
Unlike paper forms unable to force standards compliance, Chart Links’ electronic forms do not accept signatures without fulfillment of all required standards.
Better Business Decisions with Analytics
Chart Links Analytics allows managers to make informed business decisions through a simple-to-use ad hoc analysis interface that can analyze practice trends, develop universal metrics, measure long-term changes, and gather operational decision-support data.
“What could be a monumental task, taking weeks to accomplish by having to manually track and assemble mountains of data now is as simple as jumping into the system, defining your parameters and – click – up comes the data,” said Marchi. “It’s easy to read and understand. You don’t need any assistance from IT to make this happen. Chart Links Analytics is simply awesome.”
HealthPoint uses Chart Links Analytics for generating statistics for its annual report and as a basis to make good business decisions. Analytics allows HealthPoint, for example, to analyze visits (by location, by therapist, by time-period, etc.), dissect referrals, or scrutinize cancellation rates. “Chart Links Analytics helps us to stay ahead of the game, so we can make better decisions and not be reactive to what has already happened,” observed Marchi.
Routine Tasks Greatly Improved
Marchi also cites the user-friendly Chart Links scheduler as a key benefit. She notes that you can see all you need to see on one screen. Users can sort information by discipline or selected providers, or take a patient and click and copy for 15 visits instead of making 15 individual appointments. “The front desk has nothing but good things to say about the Chart Links scheduler,” remarked Marchi.
Chart Links Customer Service as Outstanding as its Technology
HealthPoint has found that the Chart Links solution extends into exceptional customer service. “The customer service we have received has been fantastic,” said Marchi. “There was no sense that, once we went live, ‘you’re on your own.’ Chart Links doesn’t operate that way. They don’t put limits on customer service. We feel we can call on them anytime. Chart Links consistently delivers on all counts.”
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) recently submitted comments to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in response to a proposed rule that would establish a temporary program for the testing and certification of electronic health records (EHRs).
The proposed rule, released March 10, is the third and final step in the rulemaking process to establish the incentive payments program for the meaningful use of certified EHRs. While physical therapists are not currently eligible for incentive payments under the program, APTA’s comments were designed to ensure that the testing and certification processes established under the temporary program meet the needs of health care providers including physical therapists.
Comments on the permanent testing and certification programs are due May 10.
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.
When it comes to implementing an electronic medical record for your outpatient rehab facility, Chart Links provides clinical and work flow expertise.
We employ a team of software development, implementation and support experts that have dealt with the electronic documentation of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy evaluations for years. Our team can work with your therapists and staff members to determine how best to link an electronic patient chart to each critical resource in your rehab department.
Some of the services Chart Links offers includes:
- Engineering the system and designing the network
- Identifying and coding hospital system interfaces in HL7
- Prepare your therapists and office staff for implementation
- Applying technology to your current workflows with the least disruption to staff
- Writing customer reports that will help you best manage your facility
Contact a Chart Links representative today to learn more about how our rehab software can automate therapy documentation and scheduling for your outpatient rehab facility.
Spartanburg Eliminates Transcription Costs, Improves Clinician Productivity and Documentation Consistency Using Chart Links
Spartanburg Regional Rehabilitation Services is a division of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, which is based in South Carolina and was named one of the nation’s “Most Wired” hospitals in 2007 by Hospital & Health Networks magazine. Spartanburg Regional Rehabilitation Services focuses on physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology, and includes 68 clinicians and 10 support staff across eight locations.
At the time that Spartanburg Regional Rehabilitation Services began evaluating electronic charting solutions, the organization’s use of paperbased patient charts required advanced planning to ensure that the chart was available at the location where the patient was visiting. In addition, Spartanburg maintained the majority of its paper-based charts older than one year at an off-site storage location. As a result, the office often had to retrieve records from offsite storage before patient visits.
“One of the many disadvantages of using paper-based documentation was that the therapists had to complete a billing sheet with every patient encounter, which was time consuming, and on some occasions, was not completed in a timely manner,” said Kelly Sheppard-Fowler, Practice Manager at Spartanburg Regional Rehabilitation Services. ” Another challenge with our manual processes was the lack of electronic scheduling, which makes it all too easy to encounter scheduling errors when coordinating across different sites.”
“The other solutions evaluated didn’t have the rehabilitation-specific functionality that we needed, such as specialized reports and templates, as well as a way to link clinical documentation with scheduled appointments,” Sheppard-Fowler said. “Most importantly, the solutions didn’t track insurance authorizations for patient visits, or notify the therapists when additional visit authorization was needed for the patient. Chart Links had all of these capabilities, plus much more.”
Spartanburg went live on Chart Links electronic documentation in August 2006 following a six-month implementation that included the creation of an interface to the organization’s McKesson Star billing system. “The implementation of Chart Links was successful due to the extensive planning and knowledge of the Chart Links staff. It was very helpful that the implementation staff included a therapist from Chart Links that could relate with our clinical staff,” Sheppard-Fowler said.
Users quickly adopted the solution because it mirrored the organization’s workflow. “Illegibility problems were immediately eliminated and the accuracy and thoroughness of our documentation improved drastically,” Sheppard-Fowler said.
Using Chart Links, Spartanburg clinicians no longer have to fill out billing sheets for each patient, since the system automatically completes the task. Edits within the system check that charges are compliant with private insurance and Medicare requirements, and that any charging errors are routed into a queue for review. To further prevent errors, the interface with the McKesson Star system allows Chart Links to confirm that patient information is consistent between the two systems. Additionally, Chart Links alerts therapists if Medicare modifiers are missing, and the system tracks patient visits that count toward insurance authorizations, automatically notifying clinicians when additional visits will require reauthorization. Chart Links also allows the clinical staff to fax plans of care directly out of the system to referring physicians, and has a tracking system to ensure compliance.
Since using Chart Links, reimbursement has increased due to more accurate documentation and the ability to track insurance authorizations that help avoid lost charges. Chart Links’ edit capabilities that catch errors before claim submissions have enabled Spartanburg to decrease its error rates significantly, which has reduced accounts receivable days.
In addition, Spartanburg eliminated its $10,000 per month transcription costs since all documentation is now electronic. “Chart Links helped make our documentation consistent across all our sites, and it’s easy to access a patient chart from any of our locations,” Sheppard-Fowler said.
Spartanburg implemented the Chart Links electronic scheduling module one year after going live with electronic documentation. “Initially, we utilized the hospital’s centralized department/software to handle our scheduling needs but the existing system did not accommodate our different sites, clinicians and specialties. As a result we encountered extensive scheduling errors. Most of these errors were eliminated once we began using the Chart Links scheduling system,” Sheppard-Fowler said.
Another benefit of using Chart Links is the system’s ability to help track clinician productivity. “Although we haven’t changed our productivity expectations, we have noticed that more clinicians are meeting their productivity goals,” Sheppard-Fowler said. “Prior to Chart Links, clinicians would simply turn in productivity reports to their manager, who would only contact clinicians if they were not meeting their goals. Now, clinicians actively monitor their productivity using Chart Links, which promotes accountability and self-motivation toward obtaining productivity goals.”
Chart Links, a provider of rehabilitation workflow management software, announces the selection of its electronic therapy documentation and scheduling system by a team of 25 audiologists, speech therapists and pediatric occupational therapists at Providence Speech and Hearing Center, a not-for-profit leading provider of services to the speech and hearing impaired of Orange County, California. The software implementation will include functionality for electronic therapy documentation, cross-discipline therapy scheduling, referrals, insurance authorizations and charges. It also includes a patient demographic and billing interface to the existing practice management system.
“Our mission is to enrich life through the gifts of speech and hearing,” says Linda H. Smith, CEO of Providence Speech and Hearing Center. “Because of the efficiencies we’ll gain by automating our administrative and clinical workflows with Chart Links, we’re projecting an increase in patient load and a drastic reduction in our wait list of 1000 patients, all of whom are children.”
In 2008, Providence provided services to more than 21,000 people. Approximately 80% of Providence Speech and Hearing Center’s work is dedicated to low-income patients who are either uninsured or underinsured.
“We selected Chart Links over other systems because it was built for therapists practicing in an outpatient setting,” says Smith. “By enhancing their productivity, we expect to increase our time spent with patients and improve outcomes.”
Chart Links software streamlines all of the daily tasks associated with a patient’s physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, or audiology visit. The software manages adult and pediatric therapy treatment by automating evaluations, flow sheets, plans of care, progress notes, patient education, and clinical correspondence. It also manages payer compliance, provider reimbursement, outcomes reporting, administrative functions, business intelligence and enterprise productivity.
About Chart Links, LLC
For 15 years, Chart Links has developed rehabilitation software that automates workflow for referrals, insurance authorizations, cross-discipline scheduling, documentation, charges, and more. Chart Links allows medical rehabilitation facilities to be more efficient and to provide a higher quality of care by delivering results in the areas of compliance, outcomes, analytics and revenue.http://www.chartlinks.com?source=prweb
About Providence Speech and Hearing Center
Founded in 1965 by Sister Margaret Anne Inman Ph.D., Providence Speech and Hearing Center is the leading service provider to the speech and hearing impaired of Orange County, California. With over 40 years of experience, Providence has grown from a one room house to a multi-million dollar non-profit organization. Providence served over 21,000 appointments in 2008 to over 3,200 unique patients. They offer a full array of speech and hearing services for children and adults alike; and, because they believe everyone deserves the gifts of speech and hearing, they accept most major insurance companies and medical groups as well as providing grants, scholarships and financing options for patients from low-income families. http:// http://www.pshc.org
The July issue of Rehab Management features an article written by Mark Finn that focuses on Software Solutions for Multisite Therapy Practices.
Mark cites the following areas to automate in a multi-site physical therapy practice for gaining improved efficiencies:
- Workflow Automation
- Manual Documentation
- Claims Processing
- Clinical Documentation
We encourage you to read the full article to learn some tips on how to spend less time dealing with paperwok, documentation and reports — and more time treating a greater number of patients.
If you need help evaluating electronic medical records systems for your multi-site outpatient rehabilitation facility, contact Chart Links.