President Obama is vigorously pushing all health care providers to use electronic health records (EHR) or electronic medical records (EMR). The encouragement is through a combination of stimulus money (up to $44,000) paid as a bonus in Medicare payments, or the guaranteed by law reduction in Medicare payments to those that do not demonstrate the use of an EHR/EMR program. Even if you do not participate in Medicare, it is critical to the survival of your practice to buy and use an EHR/EMR system.
Remember, once Medicare requires a specific function, the rest of the insurance world jumps on the bandwagon and demands the same thing, even when it makes no sense. Think of the requirement to have the same information in box 32 as is in box 33 of the CMS1500 form. Within the not to distant future, the insurance world will be demanding EHR/EMR systems in order for you to get paid. And if the insurance world does not, your State Board might. For example, Minnesota already requires EHR/EMR for its doctors.
The big question that you should be asking is
“Why do I need EHR/EMR now?
What is in it for me?”
1. Audit and collection protection
2. Increased income
3. Reduced Expenses
4. Higher PVA (Patient Visit Average)
5. More patients
6. Compliance with Federal and State laws and regulations
Over the past year, State Boards across the country have enacted new rules and regulations regarding SOAP notes, also known as daily progress notes. In many states, compliance with the requirements means that a handwritten SOAP note will take at least 15 minutes to produce. The same quality and depth of detail can be created in an EHR/EMR system in a just a few seconds. Your EHR/EMR system will keep you compliant with your State regulations and save you time, empowering you to see more patients.
A complete EHR/EMR program fully integrates your billing and documentation. A complete integrated system stops the duplication of entries in 2 or more separate programs. New patients are entered once, and a diagnosis placed in the documentation is instantly in the billing. Fees are generated by your SOAP note. A complete EHR/EMR system facilitates less time on data entry and more time on productive activities that bring you more patients and increase your income.
EHR/EMR systems flow smoothly. A patient signed in at the front desk automatically appears on your computer in the adjusting room; you document the services you provide; by the time the patient returns to the front desk, the computer has generated the charges for the day based on your SOAP note. EHR/EMR eliminates fee slips and travel cards, and insures that your billing and documentation match. This is critical if you get audited. Any discrepancy will cost you a fortune, and possibly your license.
Missing SOAP notes, or note dates that do not match billing dates, can get you in a huge amount of trouble with insurance companies. This typically occurs when a doctor gets busy, says “I’ll finish the note later”, and then forgets to complete the entry. A complete EHR/EMR enables you to self audit, discover and correct discrepancies BEFORE a claims examiner accuses you of fraud.
EHR/EMR eliminates most paper filing. Think of how much more productive you and your staff will be when you no longer need to go to and from the filing cabinet for a patient file. Hours previously spent in the filing cabinet can now be invested in practice building, collections, recalls, and the other activities that make you successful.
Diagnosis pointing is critical on the CMS1500 to provide you with the highest level of payment, and payment for as long as the patient needs care. Your EHR/EMR system includes a rules system in which you authorize the computer to do the diagnosis pointing according to the criteria you set up. Automatic diagnosis pointing saves you time, eliminates human error, and increases your collections.
EHR/EMR records are very safe, provided that you backup the data at least once per day and store a copy of the data outside your office. God forbid that your office is robbed or destroyed (fire, earthquake, flood, etc.), the computer data can easily be restored to a new computer from the backup. However, if your records are only on paper, once the paper is destroyed your records are permanently gone.
As you can see, there are many practical reasons that you need a complete integrated EHR/EMR system now. Get your EHR/EMR for the benefit of your practice. If you also qualify for the Medicare stimulus, that is an added bonus. But with all the other benefits that EHR/EMR provide for you, the sooner you use it the better it will be for you.
Dr. Paul Bindell, a 1975 Palmer graduate, is in practice in Rockaway, NJ since 1976. He lectured on Chiropractic in Brazil and Israel and is a past Chairman of Public Relations for the Northern (NJ) Counties Chiropractic Society. The Chiropractic Answer produced by Dr. Bindell in the 1980s was a cable television program, a newsletter, and a newspaper column. In 1991 Dr. Bindell and his family began Life Systems Software so Chiropractors would have computer programs based on real practice. As a consultant, Dr Bindell is the expert in assisting the profession and individual Chiropractors to improve and succeed. Numerous articles have been written by Dr. Bindell and appeared in several Chiropractic journals. Dr. Bindell is available to speak to your group or organization and can be reached by email at [email protected], or you can call Life Systems Software at 800-543-3001.