A recent New York Times article and follow-up blog post discuss the challenges patients have understanding medical bills, through the eyes of a consultant named Jean Poole who has made a career of deciphering (usually highly erroneous) medical bills and helping patients recoup incorrect charges or reduce their outstanding bills. Billing is so challenging for practices -- even though specialized staff are usually handling the task, they have to contend with constant changing rules, reluctance of some payers to address issues, and the myriad of payment schemes with varying patient responsibility. But imagine how it is for patients -- who don't have any specialized knowledge to help them deal with the strange language and calculations of their bills. Ms. Poole's service would seem to be a godsend for patients who find themselves unexpectedly owing thousands of dollars (as the article points out, patient out-of-pocket obligations and opaque hospital fee schedules can lead to big surprises). It's great that she offers this service, for sure -- but how frustrating that it's so needed. The frequency of errors and lack of transparency in insurance company documents to patients is a big source of difficulty for practices. When patients feel they've been incorrectly charged or can't understand their bills, it undermines the trust they have in their physicians and other care providers. When your practice provides services in conjunction with a hospital, their billing clarity and accuracy (or lack thereof) can rub off on your patient relationships. While you can't control how hospitals manage their side of billing, you can at least make sure you're communicating as clearly and directly as possible with patients about what your practice will bill and how much of that bill their payer has declared to be the patient's responsibility.
When you think coach, you think team. Unfortunately, you might be thinking about a sports team instead of the practice. In reality, every practice needs a coach to guide team performance and come out a winner. The coach might be a high level administrator, manager or a direct supervisor, it might even be the physician in a smaller practice. In a practice with little structure it could be someone that has assumed the role because he or she just has the knack - Someone everyone feels good about and trusts. If the coach is doing a great job the practice runs well and everyone is happy. If you are someone else's boss or responsible for someone else's performance, coaching is your way creating an awesome team. So, hey coach, how are you doing? Let's take a look at what the successful coach really does: 1. Create a constructive, winning climate for your team. 2. Lead your team to improved performance by providing encouragement, feedback and recognition. 3. Take action with people on the team who don't carry their load. 4. Take charge and set the tone for your team to be successful. Coaching is not just dealing with poor performance issues, it's staying in touch with the entire team (including the best performers) and providing them with tools to be even more successful. You have the opportunity to create a positive, winning climate by staying in touch. Concrete things to think about in your role of coach include clarifying goals, brainstorming with the team and providing recognition. If your team feels you value and respect each of the them, they will go to the mat for you - and that's a very big deal. You have the power to make this a reality. You can guide people to go from where they are to where they want to be - and that is powerful!
Will your practice be taking part in this eight-state pilot? Requirements will include EHR, flexible hours, various preventive and individualized care activities. http://www.innovations.cms.gov/initiatives/Comprehensive-Primary-Care-Initiative/index.html
I have a new article on Kareo's "Getting Paid" blog about how fine-tuning your hiring and on-boarding processes can reduce turnover. This article I found on Rypple shares the same idea about the importance of hiring for fit -- plus, adds a few more ideas for retaining employees. Can any of these enhance your practice?
Great post on KevinMD today about hospitals, practices and other healthcare provider organizations giving discounts for cash payments. Patients who have insurance need to conceal that fact to take advantage of these discounts, though. Should they have to? Seems to me that, with the payments not applying towards deductible amounts, everyone wins (doctor, patient, even the insurer). http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2012/06/hide-health-insurance-status-pay-cash.html