As 2017 rolls in, healthcare providers and medical billing and coding companies should prepare for the changes ahead. Physicians need to take steps to enhance care delivery as well as revenue cycle management. Here are some New Year resolutions to help physicians plan ahead and improve their practice:
- Prepare for new ICD-10 codes: The ICD-10 coding system for fiscal year 2017 will have thousands of new codes – 1,900 diagnosis codes and 3,651 hospital inpatient procedure codes. So it’s crucial that medical coding and billing teams are trained on the new/revised codes and knowledgeable about their use. Besides knowing how to apply the numerous coding updates, physicians should also make sure all documentation meets the highest level of specificity.
- Make sure you are up-to-date on your CPT coding: Every year, January 1 ushers in new, revised and deleted Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes. Partnering with companies that provide medical coding services will help ensure that your practice is current and compliant with all the CPT updates for 2017.
- Review patients’ insurance coverage: Reviewing your patients’ insurance plans is crucial as plans change and deductibles are reset every year on January 1. Insurance eligibility verification provides important information such as whether patients’ plans are valid and current, and what their copays and deductibles are. Rather than have your staff spend time on this task, hire an insurance verification specialist to handle verifications and prior authorizations. Patients should be educated on their financial responsibility, which can make them more willing to pay.
- Prepare for the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS): On October 14, 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the final rule to implement MACRA’s MIPS and advanced alternative payment models (APMs). While 2017 is the transition year, many of the requirements will continue and expand in future reporting years. So determining the strategies to help your practice succeed in the coming years should begin now. Staying current with the latest requirements, important dates and information will ensure that your practice avoids penalties and maintains its productivity levels.
- Better engage patients in their healthcare: In the post-ACA era, the focus is on the quality of care. So plan ahead to provide patients with quality care as well as a positive experience. Many electronic health records (EHR) systems have website portals to better engage patients in their healthcare. By explaining the benefits of the portal and encouraging adoption, physicians can deliver better care to their patients. They can also use social media to interact with patients and motivate them to track and improve their health care habits.
- Manage stress: A 2015 Mayo Clinic study showed that over 50 percent of US Physicians now suffer at least one symptom of burnout. Defuse stress by finding time for activities and hobbies you enjoy. Outsourcing demanding tasks such as medical billing and coding can ease your administrative burdens, reduce overhead costs, and improve workflow.
With the anticipated changes in federal policy in 2017, it is critical that physicians take proactive measures to keep pace with the developments and continue to be patient focused, while utilizing their resources more effectively to improve their bottom line.