Supervision and Incident-to Guidelines

In past blogs, I’ve written about a variety of E&M services and how to code those visits. In case that seemed straightforward, many years ago mid-level providers were added into the mix. You will see these types of providers abbreviated as MLP (mid-level providers), NPP (Non-physician practitioners), NP (Nurse Practitioners), PA (Physician’s Assistants), and some others. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll use MLP. The introduction of these types of providers created a new education opportunity for all of us. CMS created “Incident-to” guidelines and published them in the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual (S60.1-S60.4). This means that an MLP can provide services to a patient and report those services under the physician’s name when those services are provided incident to an established plan of care for that patient. Continue reading

Why Primary Care Should Pay Attention to Continuity of Care

Reducing healthcare costs through better care delivery begs the question: “Where do we start?” When the goal includes something to the effect of “the greatest possible improvement for a population,” it is good to reflect on the body of evidence pointing to high performing population health outcomes.

The work of Starfield and others is instructive: High performing health systems have high performing primary care as their foundation. High performing primary care has four cardinal features:¹ Continue reading

Incentives Empower Providers to Improve Care

For the last decade, we have been fortunate enough to work with many state Medicaid programs and commercial payers on reform efforts incorporating outcomes targets for health care providers. The outcomes targets we establish are collectively termed potentially preventable events (PPEs) and provide a direct link between the cost of adverse outcomes and provider payments. The big difference in using an outcome-based approach to incentivize healthcare improvements is that provider engagement requires a demonstrated improvement in the actual health of patients. Continue reading

Looking for a Future in Healthcare IT? Think About a Career in Data

Data as a career may be a bit ambiguous. How about looking for a career in data modeling, preserving, securing, delivering and making data readily available?

Beyond the obvious solutions available within healthcare data to inform products and influence reform, there is a residual need for how to carefully steward and retain the data. Some refer to this as data governance. I call it simply, “a retention and capacity strategy in need of professionals.” Over the last five years, the healthcare industry has lost a tremendous amount of talent to the promise of “big data” and data driven analytics. The industry need is greater than ever to field a new set of talent. Continue reading

Do You Want a Healthcare House of Straw or Bricks?

Anyone who has renovated a home while living in it should relate to the challenges of shifting to value-based payment. It is takes time, money and grit to redesign a house and maintain any sort of normalcy for the occupants. The transition from fee-for-service reimbursement to value-based payment isn’t a tidy process either. As with home renovation, having a blue-print and a project plan makes it manageable. Continue reading

HIMagine That! Coder Agreement

Donna: Sue, what results are you hearing about ICD-10 coder agreement as sites get ready to implement October 1, 2015?

Sue: What do you mean by “ICD-10 coder agreement?”

Donna: Well, as hospitals are in the homestretch of their ICD-10 preparation activities, one of the things they’re doing is having all of their coding staff code the same cases in ICD-10 so they can compare results. Continue reading

Transforming Health Care Through Accountable Care Organizations

The design and implementation of accountable care structures like ACOs has been a popular mode of transforming healthcare from volume- to value-based healthcare delivery systems. As was oft-quoted in the early stages of ACO development, they are akin to a unicorn—that is, everyone knows what they look like but no one has ever seen one. Now, as ACOs have evolved and have some experience under their belt, the common quote seems to be “when you’ve seen one ACO, you’ve seen one ACO.” Continue reading

Taking a Closer Look at the May ICD-10 Coding Challenge

CHALLENGE QUESTION

A 37-year old male was found unresponsive in a bedroom at his home by a family member. Paramedics arrived and found the patient pulseless and not breathing. The patient’s skin was cool and cyanotic. The family member said the patient had been using Oxycodone for long-standing back pain for the past two to three years. A prescription bottle for the drug was found at the scene. The patient was transported to a nearby Emergency Room where he was pronounced dead. The Emergency Room physician recorded the diagnoses of: Continue reading

Medical Care: When Do Harms Outweigh the Benefits?

Medical care produces both benefits and harms. There are risks associated with care delivered in the hospital, including infections, medical errors and delirium. There are side effects associated with medication and, ultimately, there are risks associated with all medical procedures. When a patient is suffering from a painful or debilitating illness, it is understandable how they might overestimate the benefits of medical care and underestimate its risks in an effort to obtain a cure or symptom relief. More worrisome is that some physicians may be poor estimators of risk. The medical community often ascribes to the adage that it is better to act than do nothing, whereas “nothing” may be in the best interest of the patient. Continue reading

Millions Claimed by Lost Physicians and Coders

There was only one time in my life that I literally did not know where I was. I had just moved to Alexandria, Virginia and took a wrong turn off the Beltway. I didn’t know which state I was in until I asked at a gas station. The station attendant thought I was crazy of course, but when I explained my predicament he laughed and told me that I was actually in Maryland. Since this happened pre-GPS, he also gave me directions to get back to Virginia – but, as I said, that only happened once. Continue reading