Don’t Let Your EMR Choice Negatively Impact Your Bottom Line

patient collections in physical therapy

During the past few years, changes within our healthcare universe have significantly increased market demand for Electronic Medical Record (“EMR”) systems among independent outpatient rehabilitation providers. These changes have all gradually influenced how health care is both delivered and paid for in the U.S. Specifically; payment incentives are shifting from a “Fee for Service” to a “Pay for Performance” environment. Under a Pay for Performance model, patient statistics, financial data and clinical outcomes are paramount. To coin a popular phrase, “he who holds the data is king”. For most small to medium size health care providers, the result has been downward pressure on fee schedules and increased administrative burdens. EMR has become the “ante to the poker game” for independent physical therapy practices that want to survive and thrive in our rapidly changing healthcare delivery system.

For physical therapists, EMR’s accommodate vital functionality related to a) patient care, b) getting paid for services rendered and c) keeping referral sources properly informed. This functionality includes, but is not limited to, PQRS, Functional Limitation Reporting, Patient Outcomes Reporting, Charge Capture, Therapy Cap notifications, and customized Output Reports faxed direct to referring physicians.

As market demand for Outpatient Rehabilitation EMR has increased, so too has the number of software companies entering the rehab marketplace. Now, there are dozens of companies’/solutions for therapists to choose from.  Is this good or bad for independent physical therapy practices? Well, the answer is “Yes” and “No”. However, if you are not careful, the bad can far outweigh the good.  Before you sign on the bottom line, it is imperative that you conduct proper research and due diligence.  This research should assure you that your are selecting a “state-of-the-art” Practice Management System (inclusive of EMR) that meets your comprehensive practice needs.

For independent therapists, make sure the Practice Management System you select has the these 8 characteristics:

  • Developed exclusively for Outpatient Rehabilitation
  • Web or Cloud based
  • End to end solution consisting of Registration, Scheduling, EMR, Patient Account Management, Billing, Collections, A/R Management, and Reporting
  • Enables access to and storage of Outcomes Data
  • Offers point of care documentation functionality via portable tablet
  • Originally developed and supported by one company under one Agreement
  • Offered via a subscription business model
  • Currently implemented over a large install base with referable clients

There are many companies offering EMR solutions to physical therapy practices that do not meet the criteria described above.  Some are re-configured solutions that were originally designed for medical practices. Some are cobbled solutions resulting from merged companies with disparate systems that were never designed to work together. Some have a core competency in EMR but no domain expertise in Billing, Account Receivables (“A/R”) Management and Revenue Optimization. Finally, at the bottom of the food-chain are solutions offered by EMR companies that solely rely on integrations with third-party software vendors for Billing and A/R Management applications. Under this configuration; system functionality, accountability and support have proven to be disastrous.

Over the past few years, there have been many practices that made very poor decisions on how their Billing and A/R is managed based on their choice for an EMR solution. They did not recognize the importance of integrated Billing, Collections and A/R Management applications For some of these practices, months of Charges have been lost in cyberspace with no alternative other than to take large write offs for those now noncollectable visits. Do not make the mistake of ignoring the importance of how all system modules work together and settling for a less than superlative billing solution. It could have a significant negative impact on the financial performance of your practice that is difficult to recover from.

BMS Practice Solutions is the nation’s leading provider of Revenue Cycle Management Services and web based Practice Management applications for independent physical therapy practices (including EMR). We have been operating for 25 years and serve our clients from six service centers located throughout the U.S. BMS processes over 2.7 million claims annually for over 600 client locations in 42 states. Our proprietary RevFlow system and Therapy Engine EMR has a proven track record for maximizing client net collections and optimizing revenue per visit. Our EMR was designed by nationally recognized physical therapists to emphasize efficiency and payer compliance.

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