Category: DAS Blog

DAS Blog articles cover a wide variety of health IT, healthcare, physician and industry topics relevant to independent physician practices.

Researched and written by our industry experts, DAS Blog articles provide insights and tips related to the products and services our clients deal with day in and day out. Read on for more on streamlining business operations, optimizing your EHR, and tackling changing government requirements.

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41% of Physician Groups Have Added Chronic Care Management – Here’s Why You Should Too

41% of Physician Groups Added CCM Chronic Care Management Services | DAS Health

For many practices on the fence about Chronic Care Management (CCM) services, the tide has turned.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) CCM program, first established in January 2015, allows providers to add new revenue to their practice while benefiting their patients with two or more chronic conditions. With stringent requirements to bill for CCM the program requires a large commitment from practice staff.

In part because of these requirements, many providers were slow to adopt the program. With the introduction of additional codes in January 2017 and new educational programs from CMS, adoption continues to accelerate. Between 2015 and 2017, the use of CCM billing codes nearly doubled, with CCM payments totaling more than $59 million. A recent survey by Smartlink Health Solutions found that more than 41% of physician groups have now launched a CCM program.

Along with providing patients new resources, CCM services have proven beneficial for practices as well. Many are finding success with CCM vendors, who take on the extensive program requirements on practice’s behalf. These partnerships have proven to be a win-win for providers – here are the top three reasons why:

1. Financial Stability

Chronic conditions affect approximately 70% of Medicare beneficiaries – roughly 35 million people. Under the CCM program, each one of those patients could gain your practice an average of $42 per patient, per month.

For practice’s struggling with increased costs and requirements in today’s environment, the additional revenue from CCM services can be a crucial part of staying successful as a business. With just 100 qualifying patients, your practice could gain more than $50,000 per year through CMS’ program. Depending on your patient population, that number could be even higher.

2. Saving Time and Resources

The administrative requirements associated with a CCM program can make adding chronic care services impossible to manage. Requirements include 20+ monthly minutes of non face-to-face care, coordination, documentation and more. With vendor partnerships, practices can overcome these obstacles.

Ready-made templates and comprehensive care plans provided by your vendor allow staff to save valuable time on documentation – especially when CCM services are documented directly within your EHR.

Often, patients receiving chronic care services are ones who already require extra support. They may constantly reach out to your practice with questions on medications, appointments and more. With CCM, these patients receive proactive outreach and answers to those questions – saving your staff even more time.

3. Patient Engagement

Perhaps one of the most important aspects when it comes to the patient-doctor relationship is communication and availability. Particularly in today’s consumer-focused environment, having positive interactions with your patients is critical to your practice’s reputation.

With Chronic Care Management, your patients will be able to receive consistent check-ins in addition to the outreach your practice already offers, ensuring that they are receiving the care they need. Through regular check-ins and follow ups, CCM participants can achieve higher levels of satisfaction.

 

 

The benefits of Chronic Care Management extend well beyond revenue generation, and ultimately help patients improve their health. With the right CCM partner, your practice can reap the benefits of chronic care services while providing your patients enhanced care. Register for our upcoming Chronic Care Management webinar to learn more, or contact us to get started.

 

Worried You’ve Got Ransomware? Here’s What to Do Next

Worried You’ve Got Ransomware? Here’s What to Do Next | DAS Health

If you’re worried you’ve got ransomware, you would not be alone:

  • A single hack of Anthem in 2015 compromised the medical information of over seventy-eight million customers
  • There were three data breaches in 2017 that affected more than 1,000,000 individuals’ medical records
  • There were eight more data breaches in 2017 that affected upwards of 100,000 individuals’ medical records
  • There were over 300 total hacks last year alone

All of these numbers come directly from HIPAA. Breaches have affected small providers, larger health organizations, and a variety of insurance companies over the last few years. All of which begs the question – what do you do after some sort of breach?

We’ve gathered a few best practices, but it’s important to work with your IT department or vendor to have a specific plan in place before a breach occurs.

 

 

1. Alert Your IT Department
First and foremost, it’s important to be calm and avoid panicking when ransomware strikes. Alerting your IT vendor or IT department should be the first thing on your mind, so they can take immediate action to halt the cyberthreat and isolate the incident.

While it might be tempting to shut down or restart your computer and hope the issue gets resolved, you may be making the problem worse without knowing it. Your experienced, professional support is ready to help instead – and they’ll know just what to do.

 

2. Seclude Your Computer
If your device is connected to the internet via an ethernet cable, make sure you remove the cable immediately. If you are connected wireless, disconnect from your WiFi. Any attached storage drives, such as a USB drives, should be pulled out as well. It is critical that your computer is not associated with the company’s network in any way, as the malware can easily spread.

A computer with malware that is connected to your network can affect other devices. Make sure you take your affected device offline to avoid contaminating other computers and data.

 

3. Keep Your Computer Turned On
Do not turn off your computer when ransomware strikes. While this may be tempting, turning off your device may trigger a loss of important data or even evidence of the crime. It may also potentially remove important information you could use to decrypt files, and there is a chance that your device may never turn back on again.

Make sure you don’t take this risk. Leave the computer on until you have spoken with your IT professional, so you can share specifics of the attack and get better advice on the specific concern. This is the best way to get your computer – and data – back.

 

4. Restore from a Backup
To best protect your data, it is important to have a back up of key patient data and files. Backups completed regularly mean you can essentially revert back to before the ransomware attack and access a safe, unaffected copy of your information. With services like cloud hosting, your data is stored in the cloud and backed up daily in case of disaster or cyberattack. Once you have addressed the cyberattack with your IT team make sure to restore your data from the most recent back up.

Do not handle this step alone. Ask for professional guidance and IT support to restore the right files. If you don’t have a current backup process, speak with a cloud hosting professional on the best ways to protect your data.

 

Working with an IT vendor you can trust, who has the right security suite and proven track record, can help your practice stop ransomware attacks even before they happen. Call the experts at DAS Health at (813) 774-9800 to learn more.

 

How Paperwork is Slowing Your Practice Down

How Paperwork is Slowing Your Practice Down | DAS Health

Technology advancements continue to drive major change in healthcare. Yet, for all the EHR and computer-based solutions available, paperwork is still an unavoidable and time-consuming part of many practices.

A recent study found that doctors are spending as much as one-sixth of their day on non-patient related paperwork. Psychiatrists and internists have the biggest burden, but all practices have forms to sign and administrative as well as clinical areas to deal with on a daily basis.

 

Paperwork Leads to Burnout

80% of physicians report feeling overextended. In a survey, 87% of physicians cited paperwork and administrative concerns as the leading cause of work-related stress.

Many practices have yet to take advantage of re-creating forms within their EHR or other technology offerings. They still spend time first writing down information in paper format, then staff time translating that content into their EHR. Another paperwork burden comes with labs and other vendors, who often send patient results back to practices in paper formats.

This manual data entry from staff often leads to errors in addition to eating up valuable time. One way to get this time back is investing in interfaces or integrations that transfer data seamlessly between systems. Instead of requiring labs to send data in paper these custom connections move data right into the patient chart – cutting out the entire manual process.

 

Workflows May Need Improvement

Without relying on administrative staff to help completed required documents, it can be tough to get everything done in a timely manner. While some regulations require the physician to be the one completing a task, such as entering orders, there is room to optimize workflows or reduce duplication of efforts to streamline these tasks.

Knowing when to delegate and how to do so efficiently can help your practice reduce the time spent on paperwork overall by sharing these time-consuming tasks.

For many practices, looking to outside consulting can help identify areas that are missing the mark. An outside perspective may reveal ways to adjust processes that have been ingrained in your practice, or attending physician panels may help in comparing notes and discussing your common concerns with your peers.

 

Billing is a Nightmare

When you fail to accurately capture patient information, that leads to reimbursement delays. Manual claims management processes are a huge administrative burden. This increases the time between when you help your patient and when you get receive compensation.

There is a lot of opportunity for automation when it comes to medical billing, and using an outside vendor can help to identify areas for improvement as well as share some of the manual tasks that would otherwise fall on your own staff. Using the right billing software can provide you insight on where your problems are, and help you overcome them. When you are dealing with pens and paper, you just have to guess.

 

 

DAS Health provides a wealth of practice management solutions including certified PM & EHR technology, consulting services and Revenue Cycle Management billing. We want to help make the administrative side of your practice a little bit easier for you. If we can help, reach out to us today.

Are Doctors Prepared to Fight a Cyberattack?

Are Doctors Prepared to Fight Cyberattacks? Key Target for cyberthreats and ransomware looking for patient data | DAS Health

Last year, the medical records of at least 7,000 people were released in a single cyberattack in New York. Worldwide spending on information security is expected to crawl upwards of $90 billion this year. Often, it seems that there is a cyberattack in the news every single week.

Physician practices are especially vulnerable to hacks. Hundreds of individuals seek medical information with a host of bad intentions, including blackmail, access to financial information, and more. The patient data that practices store and work with on a daily basis makes them an ideal target – particularly smaller practices with fewer resources.

As an increasing focus for hackers, are physicians prepared to fight cyberattacks?

 

Human Error

Around 90% of cyberattacks are caused by human error or behavior. While movies often portray hackers as wearing ski masks and looking at page after page of code to try and break into your system, its often as simple as someone getting access to a password or login that lets them get to your data. While attacks from afar are a real threat, training your employees to better protect access is critical.

Having a secure password is important and protecting that password even more so. Your password should be complicated enough to deter hackers, but not so complicated that you have to write it down. Written passwords are among the easiest, and most destructive, ways for hackers to get access to your system. To avoid writing sensitive information down, make your password something memorable, but not so obvious that someone could guess it. Avoid things like birthdays, names of family members, or other simple choices.

Train your staff to know and recognize what a phishing scam is, so that doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals do not inadvertently send private information to someone with bad intentions.

 

Data Storage

When it comes to data storage and protection, healthcare is lagging far behind other industries. In fact, the FBI issued a recent press release regarding cybersecurity in healthcare, noting that practices are behind when it comes to protecting sensitive information.

Thinking about where data is stored is likely not top of mind for physicians, but it’s an important business consideration. When your servers aren’t protected from access and your data isn’t covered by an experienced managed IT team you are ripe for cyberattack.

Using services like cloud hosting can add layers of protection to your data, as well as provide essential disaster recovery services to help your business in case of threats or natural disasters. Over 83% of healthcare organizations have moved to the cloud in order to realize these benefits.

The proper storage of information is important. Not only does a breach mean a loss of trust in your medical practice, it could be a HIPAA violation.

 

Budgeting

More than 20% of respondents in a survey regarding medical cybersecurity had no idea how much they were spending to make sure that their systems were protected from cyberattacks.

Spending on the right health IT security shouldn’t break the bank. In fact, getting the technology you need to protect your practice will save you untold hundreds of thousands of dollars in the event of a breach. The average cost per leaked record topped $402 in 2016, with individual practices settling breach cases for upwards of $7.5 million. To avoid these costly fees, it’s important to set aside part of your budget for cybersecurity. Invest in a managed IT company that can fully protect your business and can help complete regular due diligence reviews of your system. Your practice will be better prepared to fend off attacks without needing to invest more time and money when an attack happens.

Spending on security is not just an expense – it is an investment that could save your from a massive headache down the road.

 

The Future of Cyber Attacks

Advancements in technology continue to improve care but come with added cyber risks. The advent of services like telemedicine has excited both patients and doctors but come with their own risks. According to the American Medical Association, about a third of doctors are likely to adopt telemedicine within the next year. This comes with massive implications regarding how information is transmitted and stored.

The number, complexity, and potential damage of hacks has only increased. Large threats like WannaCry continue to make waves, and smaller breaches continue to make systems vulnerable. Doctors may not be prepared for what is to come.

 

We’re here to help. Completing your required security risk assessment can help identify areas for improvement, and add enterprise-level security services to keep your practice protected from future threats. Contact us today to get started.

The Opioid Crisis: How Medical Practices are Helping Fight an Epidemic

The Opioid Crisis and Technology: How Medical Practices are Helping Fight an Epidemic | DAS Health

In 1999, 4,000 people died from opioid overdoses. In 2016, that number was between 59,000 and 65,000 people. The head of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, has declared that the opioid epidemic is the FDA’s biggest crisis.

With the emphasis on combating the opioid epidemic, technology, regulations and better data are helping to fight back.

 

Getting the Right Patient Data

One of the biggest barriers to combating the opioid epidemic is emphasizing the importance of mental & behavioral health. While providers have always cared for the physical health of their patients, many are now incorporating specific mental & behavioral health screenings into their practice workflows.

These screenings provide physicians with patient health data on opioid risk, alcohol misuse, depression and other factors that help identify at-risk individuals. With better data, practices can make more informed decisions and better predict which patients need additional support.

 

Better Record Keeping

Certain states, like Florida, have instituted programs that keeps better records of patient diagnoses and prescribed medications. The program aims to allow physicians better data on which patients have been receiving medications and when, in order to avoid overprescribing.

When these databases are interfaced with EHR technology, providers are able to access patient data quickly and make informed medical decisions Programs like Florida’s require clinicians or staff members to check with a statewide database before prescribing or dispensing drugs.

 

New Regulations

New legislative limitations have passed in several states, including Florida, hoping to reduce opioid prescribing. 25 states have passed legislation imposing limitations since 2016.

HHS regulations including tracking prescribing patterns hope to address prescribing at the national level. These regulations support the increased focus on limiting opioid prescribing, in conjunction with better awareness of opioid risks.

With new funds allocated to addressing the opioid crisis, changing regulations and new, opioid-focused government programs are sure to be on the horizon.

 

 

As practices work to combat the opioid epidemic, DAS Health is here to help. With easy to implement mental & behavioral health screenings, we can help your practice get better patient health data to inform clinical decisions. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you.

How Technology Can Improve Practice Operations

How technology can improve operations | DAS Health

Making the most of your technology can not only improve staff engagement, it can improve your business operations. When technology is working for your practice, instead of against it, you can leverage the resources you need to succeed and grow.

When technology seems like a barrier to engagement, your systems may not be optimized for your needs. Review our list of tips to help make sure that your technology is working for your practice – not against it.

 

Keep up with your work, even on the go

More than three-quarters of all Americans own a smartphone, as of 2017. When you look at younger people, smartphones are more-or-less ubiquitous, with more than 90% of all 18-29-year-olds using these devices.

With these devices already on hand, making sure your systems are prepped for mobile connectivity lets you use your phone for something other than social media. Taking your EHR system mobile lets you quickly check and engage with your work on your schedule, regardless of your location. Keeping your team up to speed with a quick text message can improve office communication as well – just make sure you’re paying attention to what you send, and avoiding HIPAA violations like sending PHI through mobile devices.

You can even optimize your mobile devices to alert you on the subjects you want to know about immediately, so you can be proactive with patient care or office management. Don’t set yourself too many alerts, however, and make sure you take time to relax when you’re off the clock.

 

Accomplish more with your time

Electronic health record (EHR) software is good for your business. Automating reports, pulling data quickly, and instantly pinpointing patient issues are a breeze when your system is set up in a way that mimics your workflows and organizational preferences. When you have your EHR or PM system customized to your needs, you can accomplish tasks in half the time and easily navigate your software.

Technology can also help you avoid timely tasks like data entry. When you set up integrations with labs or other data providers, your patient information can flow directly into your EHR. This means your practice can do more with their time, instead of wasting hours getting the right data into the right chart.

With less time spent inputting or searching for the right data, you can spend more time on your patients. In fact, 75% of providers report that their EHR allows them to deliver better healthcare for their patients. If your EHR isn’t making it easier to deliver care, it may be time to switch systems.

 

Easily identify patient needs and trends

When your technology is organized in meaningful ways, it can benefit your practice tremendously. Creating reports that identify which patients meet certain program requirements can help you to get the right patient enrolled in programs like Chronic Care Management, which can not only help your patient improve their overall health but can also generate new practice revenue.

You can also call up patient health data for mental health assessments, or track improvement for specific conditions. When your EHR systems are organized to provide the right data, you can see trends over time and identify areas where your patient may need more care or support. You can even see how your practice is doing on quality measures for MIPS or Medicaid Meaningful Use reporting and see where your practice needs to adjust in order to maximize your incentives.

 

Protect your practice

When it comes to protecting your patient data, it’s critical that your practice is covered from every angle. This means fighting cyberthreats with the right cybersecurity, completing proactive Security Risk Assessments, and working with health IT experts that go on offense to defend your data.

Having the right security technology lets you rest easy and is a crucial piece of your business success. One successful cyberattack can cripple your operations, take down your systems – and carry a hefty fine if you don’t have the right protections in place.

 

Health IT experts since 2003, we can help optimize your systems and software to help you succeed. Contact us today.

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