Monday, July 28, 2014
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googlemedLong gone are the days when the medical world could just rely on referrals from their colleagues.

Two things have spurred this catalyst: the first being the advent of a digital age in which consumers can have research at their fingertips to help with decisions that they used to leave to the "professionals." The second being the Affordable Care Act, wherein now, the freedom of choice in providers has opened up new levels that have not been seen before.

This creates a whole new world, not only for the patients, but now also for the providers. First, one must consider how truly competitive the medical industry is and understand that anything that can create an edge over the competition should be looked at. In days past, a practice could rely upon basic marketing principles, such as the Yellow Pages, radio, newspapers, and word of mouth. Now, however, the internet is arguably the most important marketing method that you can have. Just having a website is not enough, though. You need to appeal to your potential clients and you must engage them.

SEO, Social Media, and Reputation Management are now the tools that need to be employed to develop a reputation as a provider of choice. What these tools will do for you is make you stand out in the sea of information on the search engines as well as help you to build trust. Having a high ranking in the search engines is important as the typical person will only search so far before making their choice. The social media portion is important in that it helps you to provide valuable information to your patients and potential patients, yet it also allows you to engage them on a more personal level, creating trust. Your competitors are likely already doing things like this and should you decide to ignore it, you are, without a doubt, falling further and further behind.

There are many modalities and complexities when it comes to Internet Marketing, least of which being Google's constant changes and tweaks to its algorithm. What you should realize, though, is the need to develop keywords and terms that specify your specialty and practice and build upon that. Secondly, engaging the public-at-large with info that is relevant to their needs and tying everything back together will position your practice as an authority.

This is accomplished by utilizing keywords and targeting them through correct use on your website and developing backlinks that lead to your site. Additionally, develop appropriate content and utilize social media to increase the exposure that your practice is receiving. This, however, must be done correctly and remain compliant with the terms of service of the search engines. Failure to do so can lead to diminished rankings and even a ban from the search engines. Can you afford that to happen to your practice?

In closing, here at IMAGINE, we have a group of experts ready to assist you in this area. We are committed to your success and the success of your internet marketing efforts. Feel free to contact me directly for more information on how IMAGINE can help develop the strategies that will work for you.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

robgomes

Rob Gomes is a 20 year veteran of the Internet Marketing Industry. Serving as the SEO Manager at IMAGINE, Rob is constantly studying and putting into place key strategies to assist in the marketing efforts of our number one priority – our clients.

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Blog - IMAGINE Management Team

patientpaycomicGiven the current state of today's healthcare reform, it's clear that optimizing patient collections is becoming an increasingly important topic.  Neglecting to collect from the most difficult payor – the patient – could be jeopardizing your overall revenue.  Unfortunately, the days of "just write it off" are becoming more and more fleeting as medical providers are finding it harder to justify the loss of profits from patient payments.

By the end of 2014, an estimated 20 million new patients will join the healthcare system and up to 80% of these new patients could be at high risk for non-payment.  One-third of U.S. workers have high-deductible insurance plans, with out-of-pocket payments totaling up to $6,350 a year for individuals and $12,700 a year for families with healthcare exchange plans.

With so much money on the line, it's important to consider your payment programs.  Are you waiting 6, 12, 24 months (or longer) to get paid, hoping the patient will actually make their payments? Or do you require payment in full at the time of service, putting a possible financial strain on the patient while risking the loss of their business on future services?  Have you had to increase your costs by hiring more staff to deal with growing A/R issues?

Whatever strategies you may be employing, remember this is your patient who is living in your community, and your reputation, as well as your revenue, is always on the line.  In December 2013, CareCredit was ordered to refund $34.1 million for deceiving the terms of healthcare credit card enrollment that affected more than one million consumers, tarnishing their creditability and public image.  Being cautious of payment programs that seem "too good to be true" and making sure your organization is aligned with a reputable, well-respected partner is key, as is reading the fine print.  There are several payment programs available that will lend to the patient and pay your doctor up front, BUT if the patient stops paying their monthly bill, that initial payment will get taken back plus an additional service fee at your expense.  So, while payment programs can be a great way to collect, make sure to do your homework and ask the correct questions from the beginning to save time, hassle, and hidden costs.

If your patient A/R is growing and you'd like to learn more, feel free to contact me to discuss how IMAGINE can help.  We've designed a program to qualify the majority of patients with a non-credit score based application, providing paid funding in full within 72 hours and no recourse to you due to neglected monthly payments.  I'd be happy to discuss the program details and alleviate any concerns to see if this would be a good fit for your practice.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

nickpic

Nick DiCristo has been with IMAGINE since 2012 and is the friendly face that leads the way to developing new business and strategic partnerships in the healthcare market.  Serving as Vice President of Business Development, he continues to explore key issues within the industry to find solutions and improve product offerings for IMAGINE's number one focus - its clients. 

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Blog - IMAGINE Management Team

Last September, I wrote about growing your practice through offering Ankle–Brachial Index (ABI) screening for adults at risk for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). In my honest opinion, during these trying times of reduced reimbursements (and until all radiology payments shift to value based payments), we should be considering how to legitimately offer new services to support our radiology practices, imaging centers, and hospitals.

Under the new Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPTF) recommendation reaches an A or B; Medicare is then obligated to lungscover and pay for the service. This now appears to be the case as Lung Cancer Screening with Low Dose Computed Tomography has the USPSTF "B" recommendation rating as of July 30, 2013.

CMS has completed their process of soliciting comments for covering this screening service. They were primarily interested in evidence to determine:

1.) Identification of patients eligible for screening

2.) The appropriate frequency and duration of screening

3.) Facility and provider characteristics that predict benefit or harm

4.) Precise criteria for test positivity and the impact of false positive results and follow-up tests or treatments.

As of the March 12, 2014 closure date for submitting comments CMS received around 400 responses. Comments came from individuals with family history to expert researchers and included representatives from cancer centers, thoracic physicians, and professional societies/associations.

lungscreen1While I expected everyone to be supportive, there were those who were in opposition. The most obvious uninformed comment that I read was, "The Lung Cancer Screening with Low Dose Computed Tomography process, as it exists, is already a cash cow. Why feed it? It is functioning well on its own." Obviously, this person has no clue that there is currently no screening program on the books! Conversely, there was another individual who recognized the social-economic element, "Because lower income, less educated populations remain the last major demographic population that still smokes heavily; and this is the same population that this early screening could help really save substantial lives". Finally, a more informed commenter stated that patient education on smoking cessation should be part of this process.

The CMS Proposed Decision Memo Due Date is scheduled to be published on November 10, 2014. Mark your calendars! In the meantime, those practices that believe in the value of this service and the likelihood of coverage can begin putting a marketing plan together now for rolling out a screening program. Commercial carriers will likely be forced to follow suit and cover this service, too. And as I say this, I personally never expect this type of service to compare to the success of breast cancer screening.

In composing this article, I spoke with my own local primary care physician on his perspective of this matter. What I found revealing is that his initial comment was that he would likely not be among the first to start ordering these screening tests. Knowing customer objections is important to any marketing plan! He was initially concerned with radiation exposure and what the frequency might be for follow up studies. Second, he was concerned over the potential of false positives and related clinical care from the pulmonologists. His concerns included collapsed lungs, challenging lung biopsies, and unnecessary surgeries. All valid concerns and being evaluated by CMS! And while I am repeating myself, it is important to perform in-depth marketplace research for how your customers may accept the new service.

His final comments were actually the most compelling. He shared with me his experience in referring patients to a local radiology group for abdominal aortic aneurisms (AAA) screening. As most of us know, Medicare currently pays for one screening ultrasound for new Medicare beneficiaries who are at clinical risk for AAA. That said, he was asked by the radiology group to refrain from ordering these screening studies as Medicare is not paying for this service. This led our discussion to proper CPT procedure and ICD-9 (10) diagnosis coding along with denials management process of the group. But I will leave that topic for a future blog. Please feel free to contact me at any time at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information.

lungcancer


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Photo of Steven SchrieberSteve Schreiber is a Senior Management Consultant at IMAGINE Software. Schreiber has 24 years of medical practice management experience with the emphasis being in radiology. He has managed hospital-based and combined hospital/imaging center practices in highly competitive environments and has been an active member of RBMA since 2002. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors, past Parliamentarian, Vendor Relations Committee chair and as a member of various other committees. The RBMA has recognized Schreiber in the 2013 class of RBMA Fellows and has also presented Schreiber with special recognition awards in both 2005 and 2011 for his contributions to the RBMA practice management forums.

Blog - IMAGINE Management Team

I’ve spent a lot of time recently talking about Order Verification in IMAGINE.  What it means, how it’s used, why it’s important. 

What I find interesting is how many people aren’t sure what Order Verification is or what it means in IMAGINE, but once I start explaining, it’s like a light goes off and then the person goes “Oh, you mean log checking” or “Wait, are you talking about hospital audits?” or “Oh my gosh, do you mean you can automate log file validation?”.

YES!!!  Yes, we can!  We do!  We will! 

yoda

I feel like a Dr. Seuss character. 

Or maybe Yoda – “Help you, help you I will”. 

Help you I will…if you’ll let me.

Order Verification is the same thing as log checking, log file checking, audit file checking, order validation, anything else you want to call it.  Order Verification happens when you take an electronic file containing a list or schedule from outside IMAGINE and bring it into IMAGINE.   IMAGINE will then take that list and go search for matches inside your billing database. 

We check three areas within IMAGINE: posted charges, unposted charges, and deleted charges.  If we find a match in ANY of these areas, we’ll flag the record from the audit file as ‘MATCHED’ and show you where we found it.  If we DON’T find a match, we’ll flag it as ‘UNMATCHED’ and show you that as a separate list.  The whole thing is built into a workflow screen that is already present inside of IMAGINE.

So, what's the catch? Well, there is one really important trick to this that I don't control – you have to have an electronic file containing this list of orders or visits or whatever it is you can use for independent verification to be able to then load it into IMAGINE for searching. If you already know that you have or can get a file like that, awesome! Terrific! Wonderful news! You can start loading the file immediately with our standard Order Verification interface or, if it's in a slightly different format, you can talk to us about the file type you have and we can program an interface to match. If you don't have a file like this already on hand, DON'T WORRY. Chances are we can help you find one – we've got plenty of experience working with hospitals and other scheduling systems to facilitate this.

In the end, Order Verification is truly the ultimate time saver for making sure the correct charges have been accurately captured for all services, helping to reduce the errors, duplicates, denials, and unpaid claims that equal more frustration and less money for your business.

Let's work together – contact IMAGINE today and find out how to take advantage of the Order Verification interface as well as the many, many other key features in our system that can benefit your practice.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

chrisf

Chris Fitzgerald has been with IMAGINE Software since 2005, working to ensure customer satisfaction through support maintenance, continuing education programs, and on-going customer relations for IMAGINE's number one focus - its clients.  He currently serves as Vice President of Product Management, where he continues to leverage his experience with customers and their needs to constantly improve the IMAGINE Suite of products.

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Blog - IMAGINE Management Team

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