Financial Management Best Practices for your Practice

Physicians across the country are starting their private practice every day. While doing this, physicians find themselves not only consulting with patients but also find themselves donning many hats in order to run the practice successfully. From being the administrator to the HR to the finance guy, a doctor pretty much has to focus on all aspects of the practice to make sure it is running profitably and that patients are positively engaged. This challenge becomes greater when a doctor has multiple practices to run. Since financial strength is critical to keep a practice running smoothly here are a few finance management best practices that physicians should follow:

Assess all Charges

For proper financial planning, you need a comprehensive view of the charges of your practice. So, it is essential to identify every service that is performed and capture it in an electronic health management system. All vendors, nurses, technicians, staff should be trained to fill in the EHR documenting what services they provide and ensure that proper coding of the services has been done. You have to make sure that no revenue is left on the table owing to improper procedure documentation or wrong diagnosis codes.

Ensure Productivity

The mathematics here is pretty simple – the more productive your providers are, the more financial success your practice will see. Making sure that you have clear and efficient processes in place that enable productivity by ensuring that the entire healthcare ecosystem is connected across a common platform, requires minimal typing to fill and update records, has a central repository that stores attachments such as x-rays and reports in multiple file formats, are just a few ways to ensure this. Additionally, using a healthcare management system, you can foster collaboration by allowing electronic sharing and tracking of reports, lab orders, prescriptions, patient referrals to save time and increase the productivity of the staff. Medical practices also should ensure that the physician’s time is leveraged productively by making sure they are not double booked with a proper appointment management system that gives a consolidated look at the physician’s multiple schedules across multiple clinics.

Provide Clean and Accurate Insurance Information

Providing clean and accurate insurance information forms and very important part of good finance management practice. Making sure that all

insurance information and processes are in place and that all insurance related information is gathered the first time around should be on priority to ensure that the initial submission happens smoothly. Even the smallest mistake can lead to insurance claim denial which can lead to delayed payments which, in turn, increases costs by impacting the revenue stream. To streamline this process and also to identify areas of improvement in processes and systems it becomes essential to conduct periodic audits.

Warrant Effective Collections and Correct Accounting

Having an effective billing system in place forms the crux of a good finance management system. For this, the billing department of a medical practice should be educated clearly on the collection policies and the processes for the same. Along with collection of money that is entitled to the practice, billing departments also have to be properly guided on how to work on claims denials, follow up on aging claims, the process of collecting claims from patients, how and when to send claims to the collections department and when to write off a bad debt. All practices should have simple processes in place that are straightforward enough to understand and implement so that there is minimal resistance during documentation which is essential for compliance.

Implement Correct Accounting and Compliance

You cannot talk about finance management without speaking of proper accounting and compliance. Given that the current healthcare ecosystem has to navigate a rather treacherous compliance landscape, it becomes all the more essential to maintain proper records of all income and expenses. All inflows from multiple clinics, referrals, endorsements, consultation fees, transactions that happen on a daily basis should be properly documented. This will not only ensure that the end of year audits are completed without issues and taxes are filed correctly but also guarantee complete regulatory compliance.

Maximize Revenue Opportunities

Good finance management for medical practices should also look at avenues to maximize revenues. Evaluating contractor payer rates, negotiating best rates with vendors and maintaining cost structures become important components in maximizing revenue opportunities. Further, reviewing costs such as supplies, phone contracts, operational expenses and liability

insurance periodically helps in weeding out unnecessary outflows and increasing revenues.

Paying close attention to finance management aids the success of any medical practice. Ensuring that day to day operations are conducted smoothly are critical to implementing long-term financial goals and also to ensure long-term viability of any practice.

Image Courtesy : pixabay.com

Celebrate Responsibly – Eat, Drink, Make Merry and Stay Healthy in the Holiday Season

‘Tis the season to be jolly. Come December and the party scene is on in full swing. Late nights, calorie –rich foods, high alcohol consumption are the norm of this time of the year. However, they leave you feeling less than fabulous when you come out on the other side (read New Year). Now, let’s be realistic; we know we will party… We know we will eat and drink all that we are ideally not supposed to….and we also know we will end up with spilling a waistline and a guilty conscious. So how do we survive the party season without compromising on our health?

The good news is that by making some smart switches we can quite easily temper the ill-effects of the holiday season without compromising on the fun quotient. Try these simple strategies when you want to eat, drink, make merry & stay healthy in the holiday season

Plan it out

Take the first step towards a healthy holiday season by taking a look at your party schedule and making a food plan. List out how many social engagements you have and assess how much you can allow yourself to indulge in each of them. If it’s an office soiree you can easily limit your party excitement for that evening and eat and drink a little lesser than what you would at your buddy’s party. You should also choose and select the parties you want to attend. You necessarily don’t have to go to EVERY party that you are invited to.

Check the alcohol

Since alcohol flows freely, it can be quite a task to check your intake. So adopt a simple strategy. Order one drink at a time and aim for roughly one drink per hour. Alternate one drink with one glass of water to space out your intake your alcoholic drink. If you feel that water is boring then switch still water with sparkling water with a twist of lime. This will be easier on your liver and also limit your calorie intake per average serving.

Power pack your diet

Since you know your one meal will be high in calories make the smart food switch for other meals. Start your day with a heavy, nutritionally rich breakfast. Porridge with some nuts and cranberries help in stabilizing your blood sugar levels and help you stay fuller for longer. Having a breakfast frittata packed with veggies the morning after will help your stomach settle. Can’t face a cooked breakfast after a heavy night of partying? Have a smoothie made with potassium rich fruits such as bananas, kiwi or oranges to replenish electrolytes lost because of the diuretic effects of alcohol. This helps in controlling your appetite for the rest of the day. Add fruits, nuts and seeds to your diet. Ensure that you have whole grains such as oats and brown sugar to keep your blood pressure from spiking. Add coloured fruits and veggies to get the anti-oxidants that you need to recuperate. Have grilled chicken or fish and lentils to keep your protein levels up. Have probiotic yogurt to boost your immunity to combat the negative effects of alcohol and less sleep.

Have a pre-party snack

It can be hard to resist the canapes when you arrive starving at a party. Always have a pre-party snack. This will not only delay’s the effects that that first glass of wine will have on you if you drink on an empty stomach but will also help you stick to a reasonably decent diet. Having a bowl of yogurt with sliced bananas, a bowl of muesli, a mug of chunky vegetable soup all work wonderfully when you want to stick to your resolve of eating responsibly.

Exercise

Your body will need a bit of exercise during the party season, and no, boogying the night away does not count! Build in a brisk 10-minute walk/run or high intensity 10-minute workouts into your everyday routine. Not only will you have more energy, you’ll be able to work off the extra calories you packed in from last night’s party.

Replenish

Alcohol consumption depletes several nutrients from our bodies. It affects or B vitamins, zinc levels and irritates the gastrointestinal system. Have a good quality multi-vitamin every day. On days when alcohol consumption is higher, have a second multi-vitamin during lunch time. Make sure your alcohol metabolism is up to speed by taking zinc and Vitamin B3 supplements. Add a probiotic to your daily diet to keep your gut flora safe from the sugar present in the alcohol.

Finally, you need to get back on track after a big night out. Follow the 80:20 rule to balance your diet. Eat healthy 80% of the time and indulge in the remaining 20%. Finally, if you are going to be drinking, leave the car at home and walk or hire a car to take you to your party destination.

Have you Got Your Annual Check-up Done Yet?

Generally, we visit the doctor only when there is something wrong. Sure, you feel fit and healthy and have not called in sick even once in the past year. But given that we lead very sedentary lives that are high on stress and low on activity, getting that annual health check-up is the only guarantee that your health is at its 100%.

With lifestyle related diseases rampant today, getting regular health check-ups is one way to ensure that you can take a preventive approach to disease management. Some of the factors to take into consideration are your age, family history, and lifestyle choices. Family history, in a number of cases, influences the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer as well. With the help of regular health check-ups, problems can be identified earlier and treated on time. So how should you prepare for a health check-up?

The first step that you should take when preparing to take an annual health exam is by identifying a good physician. Once that has been done prepare a checklist which details:

• Your family medical history

• Types and number of surgeries

• Smoking history

• Medication and immunization list

• Allergies list

• Life changes that impact overall health

• Weight gain

You should also know that there are three kinds of health check-ups; routine physical examination, preventive health check and master health check-up. Preventive health check-ups are especially important for people with risk factors owing to family history or lifestyle choices such as smoking. A routine health exam assesses the condition of an individual’s general health while a master health check-up is more detailed and aids early detection of health problems. According to a number of studies, getting a whole battery of tests annually is not required since some of the invasive ones can actually have a negative health impact in the long term. If you are of relatively good health, have made the right lifestyle choices, and have no family history of heart-related diseases, diabetes, cancer or strokes here are a few things that you should ideally get assessed annually.

Haemogram:

A haemogram is a broad screening blood test to check for anomalies such as anaemia, infection, and other diseases. A haemogram check:

• Haemoglobin

• Packed cell volume

• R.B.C. count

• MCHC/MCV/MCH

• E.S.R.

• Peripheral Smear

• Platelet Count

• Total W.B.C./Differential Count

Biochemical Parameters:

The biochemical profile forms the database for most diagnostic investigations of internal diseases and includes:

• Fasting Sugar

• HbA1C

• Urea /Creatinine

• Uric Acid

• PP Blood Sugar (only for diabetic patients)

Lipid Profile:

Lipid Profile tests help identify an individual’s risk to heart disease and depending on the results, along with other associated factors, are taken into consideration to develop a treatment plan.

• Total Cholesterol

• HDL Cholesterol

• LDL Cholesterol

• Triglycerides

• Total Cholesterol /HDL Ratio

Liver Function Tests:

Liver Function Tests, also known as Liver Enzyme Tests are done to detect if the liver is functioning properly. These tests detect inflammation and damage to the liver and check the level of the certain liver enzymes. A typical Liver Function test will include:

• Total Protein/Albumin/Globulin

• SGPT/SGOT

• Alkaline Phosphatase

• GGTP

• S. Bilirubin

General Tests:

Apart from the above tests, there are a couple of preventive tests that fall under the category of general tests to check the overall health of an individual and identify if he/she is at risk for deadly diseases like cancer. These tests include:

• Complete Urine Analysis

• Stool Test(optional)

• ECG (Resting)

• X-Ray Chest

• Ultrasonogram of the abdomen

• Pap Smear (for women)

• Clinical examination

Along with getting all these tests done make sure that you keep a record of them as well. Instead of keeping mounds of physical records that can be easily displaced, look at digitizing them and store them on a secure healthcare platform that you can easily access from your smartphone. That way you are in control of your medical history and can pull it out whenever you need – anytime, anywhere.

How Mobile Apps are Set to Transform your Healthcare Experience

The smartphone has become our very own virtual assistant. From managing finances to our social network, is there anything that we cannot do from our smartphones today? Much like everything else, we can also put our smartphones to good use to manage our health and fitness. In this blog, we explore seven ways in which the smartphone can completely transform your healthcare experience.

1. Medical history management

We all, at some point, have reached a doctors consultation only to realize that we are not carrying our medical records along with us. Or we are in a strange city but need access to our medical history. What do you do then? Your smartphone can come in handy to save all your and your family’s medical history and make it accessible for you anytime, anywhere.

2. Test and Prescription Management

Medical test records and prescriptions can be very hard to keep since these can become voluminous in no time. It also is very easy to lose these bits of valuable health information owing to improper filing. Now instead of rummaging through piles of paper we can use our smartphones to manage all test results and prescriptions. Goodbye, paper hassles!

3. Disease management

Mobile phone applications can help in disease management by providing reminders and maintaining health logs. For example, diabetics can use their smartphone to ensure that their food and medicine intake is on time. Smartphone applications can also monitor heart rates and blood pressure, track salt and calorie intake and also track sleep, all of which can help in chronic disease management.

4. Medical Finance Management

Keeping track of medical finances can be tough but the smartphone can make it very easy. Right from medical bills and expenses, insurance claims and related details can all be stored and accessed from our smartphones whenever required.

5. Analytics

Do you know how many times you fell last year? Can you tell if you fall sick at a specific time in a year or after eating something in particular? Do you remember how many times your physician has asked you to take ‘a particular’ medical test? Well, your smartphone can come in handy if you want to gain access to these medical analytics. Smartphone apps can compare previous medical history, assess all the crucial checkpoints, and throw up relevant data that can give you intelligent insights into the current state of your medical health.

6. Tracking Nutrition

We are what we eat but isn’t it hard to track nutrition levels? Mobile apps on your smartphone can not only track their nutrition level by keeping a food diary that helps them identify how many calories you are consuming but also help you set calorie goals.

Such apps give a breakdown of fats, carbs, protein, vitamins, sugar, and sodium and help you understand your food habits. What’s more is that the daily decided calorie intake can be modified when a regular dose of exercise is included in the daily routine!

7. Fitness Tracking

Technology has been blamed for making us lazy. Now we can use technology to prove that we are not. Fitness-tracking apps are a great way to assess your daily fitness levels. From tracking the number of steps you take in a day to measuring distance covered while walking, running or biking, these apps also provide you information on the number of calories you have burnt while doing these exercises.

Presently, there are approximately 5,820 health and fitness apps available according to The World of Health and Medical Apps. With global smartphone sales predicted to hit 1.5 billion units by 2016, the mobile app ecosystem is only going to grow stronger. And much like the smartphones, that are becoming increasingly smarter. It will come as no surprise that these applications too will become progressively intelligent.

10 Uses of Your Smartphone beyond Candy Crush

Over the last decade, the smartphone revolution has radically changed our lives. From banking to retail the smartphone has become a powerful tool meant for collaboration. Much like everything else, medicine and healthcare have not remained oblivious to the charm of the smartphone. Innovative digital technologies, cloud computing, machine intelligence have dramatically changed the perception of healthcare.

In this blog, we take a look at 10 ways in which physicians can leverage their smartphone for things other than checking emails.

1. Practice Management – Practice management for doctors on the go can be a huge task. Who has the time to shift through multiple files and databases to get information? Smartphone apps can help busy doctors manage multiple clinics and their related administrative concerns from a central repository.

2. Patient Management – Doctors can now very conveniently convert their smartphone into their personal assistant. Right from accessing important patient information and history to logging complete patient interactions within seconds, doctors can leverage their smartphone to access medical records, previous prescriptions, lab tests etc.

3. Appointment Management – Who wants to manage multiple calendars that anyways run overfull all the time? Busy doctors need an efficient appointment management application that can help them plan, schedule and organize their days without overlaps easily.

4. Case management – How much of precious time is wasted looking for the relevant case file which has to be fetched manually by an already overworked hospital worker. With the help of smartphone applications, doctors can get all the case related data right in the palm of their hand.

5. Referral Management- How many times in a day do you think doctors refer patients to other doctors? How many patients do doctors meet in a day? Now try isolating who you had referred to which doctor and who you hadn’t referred at all. While referral management might seem very easy, it can sometimes snowball into something quite unmanageable. Use your smartphone for easy referral management instead.

6. Record Management –When everyone is going paperless wouldn’t it just be easier to go paperless when managing patient records as well? A smartphone application with specialty-wise templates can help doctors enter and manage patient records easily with minimal typing. Minimum effort but maximum benefit.

7. Multiple file storing – When we say medical files, most people assume reports and prescriptions. However, medical files also include X-Rays, pictures, videos along with test results. Doctors can use save and access these files from their smartphone quite easily.

8. File sharing – Just having access to online medical records is not enough anymore. A smartphone application that is smart enough will allow doctors to not just view all files, reports, X-Rays of patients but will also allow them to share it with the concerned people.

9. Practice Analytics – Doctors can now put their smartphone to good use for practice analytics. With the help of data-driven insights, they can understand the kind of patients they are getting, commonalities between patients, identify frequently

conducted tests, factors contributing to recurring ailments etc. all of which contribute greatly in disease management.

10. Financial Management – With everything that they already need to manage, do doctors have the time for managing their own finances, transactions, billings, referrals, consultation fees etc.? Most would say no. However, doctors can use your smartphone to manage all these and know exactly how their finances are shaping up.

Using the smartphone, physicians and doctors can early remove the barriers that impede optimal performance for them. All they need to ensure is that they get a single solution with multiple capabilities that can meet all their needs.