How to Use Your EMR to Build Better Patient Relationships

by |May 12th, 2016

There’s some old-school thinking floating around out there decrying electronic medical records (EMRs) because they supposedly prohibit clinicians from fully engaging with their patients. We say that’s just poppycock. Sure, lackluster PTs may shirk opportunities for quality face time with their patients in favor of not-so-quality face time with their computer screens, but the great PTs don’t let technology—especially incredibly helpful technology that patients actually want their healthcare practitioners to use—get in the way of developing exceptional relationships. In fact, great therapists use their EMR to build better patient relationships. Here’s how you can do the same: Get Comfortable With Your EMR In the words of WebPT Marketplace Director Brian Kunich, DPT, “You can’t pay attention to the patient if

How Easy is it to Switch EMRs—Really?

by |March 18th, 2016

If your current electronic medical record isn’t pulling its weight for your clinic, you may be wishing for a better one. However, switching EMRs isn’t nearly as easy as switching shops for your morning cup of coffee. You’ve invested time and money—in some cases, a lot of both—into your current system, so leaving could be more hassle than it’s worth. But it doesn’t have to be, because if you’re switching to the right EMR for your clinic, your new partner will do everything in its power to make your transition smooth, simple, and—dare we say—easy. Plus, once you’ve experienced the incredible benefits of a top-notch EMR, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the leap sooner (even if it takes a

7 Ways to Increase Efficiency in Your Private Practice

by |March 10th, 2016

You’ve surely heard the saying, “Time is money.” And as a physical therapist, you experience it first-hand when you bill for your timed services. But what about your non-billable hours? Are you using that time efficiently? In this Entrepreneur article, author Michael Moroney writes that “employees spend about 31 hours per month in meetings and spend less than 60% of [work] time actually working productively.” According to the infographic Maroney references in his article, the salary cost of unnecessary meetings for US businesses is $37 billion. Talk about inefficiency. Even if your practice’s stats aren’t quite that shocking, there’s a good chance that you’re spending time on things that aren’t helping your patients, your staff members, or your bottom line.

Why a Lack of Outcomes Tracking is an EMR Dealbreaker

by |March 2nd, 2016

If you’ve been searching for a while, you probably know that a cloud-based, therapy-specific EMR solution is the way to go. You also might appreciate the importance of added benefits like built-in compliance safeguards and ICD-10 coding capabilities, billing and RCM services, and comprehensive scheduling and business reporting functionality. But, there’s one more factor you should be considering—the rehab therapy software X-factor, so to speak: outcomes tracking. Why is outcomes tracking such a big deal? Well, at the patient level, measuring progress has always been integral to providing the best possible care. Otherwise, it’s tough to know whether the treatment you’re providing is actually working. But, with the advent of technology, PTs and OTs now have the opportunity to leverage

Do Cash-Based Practices Need an EMR?

by |February 19th, 2016

Many therapists are beginning to add cash-based services to their practice offerings—everything from gait analysis and golf fitness programs to aquatic therapy and deep tissue massage. After all, as Brooke Andrus writes in this post, “…in the current environment of declining reimbursements from third-party payers, adding cash-pay options to your practice’s current menu of services isn’t only smart—it might just be necessary to secure your survival.” For some, offering a few cash-pay wellness services on the side might be enough, but for others, like physical therapist Ann Wendel, it’s cash-based all the way. While this business model certainly alleviates a lot of headaches when it comes to dealing with payer contract negotiations and increasingly stringent payment regulations, operating a cash-based

What’s the Best Software for Physical Therapists?

by |February 4th, 2016

There are plenty of software systems for physical therapists on the market today, but you wouldn’t want to waste your time on anything but the best—especially if the best is super affordable with no long-term contracts and a ton of fantastic features, right? Here’s what you should be looking for in the very best software for physical therapists: One with an Intelligent ICD-10 Tool Your EMR doesn’t need to make your breakfast à la Rosie from The Jetsons, but it does need to help you stay ICD-10 compliant. Make sure yours does the following, at the very least: Prompts you to document the specific details of every patient’s injury or issue Suggests a more specific code when one with a

How an EMR Can Help with Physical Therapy Billing

by |February 1st, 2016

Do you frequently find yourself facing claim denials and payment delays in your physical therapy clinic? Well, you’re not alone. With so many rules and regulatory changes, billing for physical therapy isn’t easy—but it doesn’t have to be a total challenge, either. When you use an integrated EMR and billing system, you can bid “adieu” to these three common billing blunders: Ciao, Coding Errors Okay, so you probably won’t get rid of all coding errors—your billers are still human, after all—but a great EMR can dramatically reduce those human errors, thereby greatly improving your claim accuracy. According to this cost-benefit analysis published in the American Journal of Medicine, an EMR is better able to capture charges and can “decrease [billing]

Dishing on Big Data: Information Exchange and the Future of Health Care

by |January 22nd, 2016

When it comes to life in the modern world, data reigns supreme. Whether you care to admit it—or even think about it—the fact is, you cannot escape the influence of data. And in some cases, that’s a good thing. No, I’m not talking about the discount offer for your favorite restaurant that suddenly appears on your Facebook news feed just minutes after you’ve perused the menu online—though that’s definitely a data benefit, too. In this article, though, I want to focus on the benefits of big data with respect to health care—in terms of cost, quality, and efficiency. If you’re a healthcare provider, there’s a good chance you’re already helping lay the foundation for a very bright—and data-driven—healthcare future. That’s

4 Reasons You Should Use an EMR for Practice Management

by |January 6th, 2016

When you think about your EMR, documentation might be the first thing that comes to mind. And while defensible documentation is crucial—and should be the main component of your EMR—there are other perks your software vendor can offer you. One of the most efficient, cost-effective options available through your EMR is a practice management suite. Think you already have your processes on lock? Even if you do, you can further streamline your business when you take advantage of all of the benefits your software offers. As this InformationWeek article explains, “Ideally, EHR and practice management systems work together so that patient registrations become patient health records, and the diagnosis recorded into the EHR turns into a properly coded insurance claim.”

Defensible Documentation Best Practices

by |December 3rd, 2015

Defensible documentation—what a buzz word (er, phrase). But it’s not just hot air; there’s a good reason why it’s so trendy. According to the APTA, creating “documentation throughout the episode of care is a professional responsibility and a legal requirement.” As a “tool to ensure safety and the provision of high-quality care,” defensible documentation serves to: Communicate information about a patient’s care, status, and treatment outcome among providers. Tell others about the unique—and valuable—services you provide as a therapist. Demonstrate compliance with local, state, federal, and payer regulations. Help third-party payers determine appropriate payments. Act as a historical account of patient encounters for legal purposes. Provide a resource for policy or research purposes (e.g., outcomes). So, for your physical therapy

Why You Need an EMR for PQRS

by |November 23rd, 2015

Every November, Medicare releases its Final Rule. And nestled among the many regulatory updates—like warm buns in a basket—are the PQRS requirements for the coming year. The 2016 Final Rule reveals that not much is changing for rehab therapy providers on January 1. But, even so, satisfying PQRS requirements is rarely a piece of cake—er, bite of bun? Anyway, as I was saying: The rules can seem convoluted, and adhering to them requires precise documentation. Here’s how an EMR can help you remain compliant in the following areas: Tracking Progress In 2016, eight measures apply to physical therapy, ten to occupational therapy, and a whopping one measure applies to speech-language pathology. And the reporting requirements are pretty strict, as Brooke

4 Tips for Improving Patient Wait Times

by |November 20th, 2015

Physical therapy treatment plans are designed to help people get back on their feet, yet your patients may find themselves doing a whole lot of the opposite when they’re at your clinic. Even the best physical therapy practices can experience long wait times now and then, but that can lead to patient dissatisfaction—and a lot of negative online reviews. Although your practice might not be the PT equivalent of the DMV, your patients will invariably spend at least a few minutes in your waiting room, so here are four tips to improve your wait times: 1. Collect patient feedback. The first step toward improving your wait times is to understand exactly why your patients have to wait. Your gut may

Physical Therapy EMR: Smarter, Faster, and Better Than Ever

by |November 11th, 2015

Technology moves at lightning speed, and that leaves many EMR systems looking outdated and cluttered with burdensome processes—at best. That said, one technology model rises above the rest in the physical therapy EMR game: SaaS, or software as a service. TechTarget defines SaaS as “a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over a network, typically the Internet.” In the EMR market, SaaS vendors are improving software implementation, updates, and usability while addressing customer needs quickly and consistently. Implementation When you use a server-based EMR, getting up and running means going through a strict, inflexible implementation process. While some EMRs on the market today still require practices to

5 Reasons Why PTs Love Their Cloud-Based EMRs

by |November 10th, 2015

Some physical therapy clinics seem to have it all together: documentation gets done in a flash, claims are processed—and reimbursed—with ease, and everyone’s up-to-speed on all the latest regulatory changes. Maybe they’re born with it—or maybe it’s their EMR. Great cloud-based EMRs are designed with PTs in mind; these systems help make running a clinic seem like a breeze. Here are the top five reasons why PTs love working with a cloud-based EMR: 1. Affordability Thanks to the cloud, PTs no longer have to shell out big bucks upfront—or cover the recurring costs associated with manual updates and IT staff—to use server-based EMR systems. Plus, software-as-a-service (SaaS) EMR vendors typically offer month-to-month payment models, making a cloud-based EMR an even

6 Ways an EMR Keeps Your Data Safe from Hackers

by |November 5th, 2015

Sadly, the Internet is full of folks looking to steal your personal information, and while most people probably are keenly aware of the need to protect their Social Security numbers (SSNs) and credit card accounts, many don’t realize that their medical identities also are vulnerable to hackers. According to NBC News, the Ponemon Institute estimates more than 2.3 million adult Americans have either been the victim of or know someone who has been a victim of medical identity theft during or before 2014. Even scarier? The institute’s fifth annual survey revealed that medical identity theft rose by 22% in 2014—and that rate shows no signs of slowing down. Forbes reports that in this year alone, three major health insurers—Anthem, Premera,

How Much Downtime Should Your Physical Therapy Software Actually Experience?

by |October 22nd, 2015

In your personal life, downtime is great: sitting on a beach, sipping a fruity drink, and doing absolutely nothing. But when it comes to the physical therapy software you use in your professional life as a PT, the last thing you want is downtime. Yet, the sinking feeling of receiving an email from your vendor alerting you to yet another downtime—or worse, logging in to see that the system is down—may be all too familiar. You need your software to work—or else you can’t. And that begs the question, “How much downtime should your physical therapy software actually experience?” Some companies experience frequent—yet brief—periods of downtime. Others experience chunks of sustained downtime—like Epic EMR, which was out for nearly two

Is Your EMR Hurting or Helping Your ICD-10 Efforts?

by |October 9th, 2015

We’re several days into the transition to ICD-10, and it seems like most folks made it through to the other side just fine. Many of you might even be thinking the new code set isn’t such a big deal. But is this the calm before the storm? After all, we’ve yet to see whether providers coded correctly, and thus, whether their ICD-10 claims actually will get paid. So, between watching the leaves change color and picking a prime pumpkin from the patch, you’ve got to maintain your ICD-10 efforts. While I’m sure you studied and practiced your tail off in anticipation of October 1, you may have overlooked one key part of a successful switch: your EMR. Here are two

EMR Can Help with the ICD-10 Switch; Here’s How

by |September 24th, 2015

Love it, or hate it? Tired of reading about it, or just beginning to delve into all of the details? Regardless of which of these phrases most closely describes your relationship with ICD-10, there several things you can do to make this transition a smooth one. One of the most effective? Using an EMR. If you’re already using a system, great; now’s the perfect time to evaluate whether it offers everything you need to be successful with ICD-10 adoption. “Because of ICD-10’s complex code structures, implementing associated changes in electronic health records, billing systems, reporting packages and other decision-making and analytical systems will require either major upgrades of multiple systems or outright replacement of older systems,” says this HealthIT article.

How a Physical Therapy EMR Can Work for Occupational Therapists

by |September 21st, 2015

If you’ve spent any time at all searching for an EMR, you know it’s not one-size-fits-all technology—but it’s not one-size-fits-one technology, either. Despite the name, a physical therapy EMR—like WebPT—isn’t for physical therapists only. Here’s how to make a PT EMR work for your OT practice: What to look for in an EMR The reason a PT EMR can work so well for OTs is because both specialties need many of the same EMR features, including: Comprehensive documentation Regular—and free—compliance updates and built-in alerts regarding regulatory changes like PQRS, FLR, and ICD-10 Scheduling Practice management Billing Free and easy-to-access customer education and support Cloud-based platform (especially convenient for mobile and in-home OTs) If an EMR has all these features, you’re

Physical Therapy EMR, Practice Management Software, and Billing System: What’s in a Name?

by |August 18th, 2015

Say my name, say my name. When no one is around you, say PT EMR, PMS, and billing system, I love you—if you ain’t runnin’ game. Huh? Destiny’s Child may have said it best; but while rehab therapy providers aren’t runnin’ game, they might feel played by all of the indistinguishable healthcare jargon that directly impacts their workflow. So, what’s in a name? Could it be that you are at the crib with a misunderstanding? Here’s what you need to know about EMR, practice management software, billing systems, and how each one impacts your processes: Physical Therapy EMR You are, in fact, on, so I’m going to take a wild guess that you at least have an idea of

Why Customer Service is a Physical Therapy EMR Must-Have

by |August 11th, 2015

When you think about customer service, what comes to mind? Maybe you recall a situation when a business or employee went the extra mile to surprise you with an unexpected level of kindness. Or perhaps you immediately think back to a time when poor customer service—or lack of service altogether—left a bad taste in your mouth. Whether your experience was a positive one—or not—it certainly altered your perception of the business, leaving you either delighted or totally disappointed. And although you might typically think of customer service in the context of shopping, dining out, or going to the doctor, it’s also crucial that you consider this factor as you look for an EMR. The Significance of Service Chances are that

3 Reasons Why PT Programs Should Teach Digital Documentation

by |August 5th, 2015

As a future doctor of physical therapy, you bear a large burden: you’re responsible for not only healing your patients, but appropriately documenting your diagnosis and treatment as well. However, your PT program likely only places emphasis on one of those responsibilities—and that’s putting you at a severe disadvantage when you graduate. Here’s why your DPT curriculum should include digital documentation: 1. Most clinics don’t use pen and paper. When you get out of school, your chances of landing a job with a clinic that doesn’t use an EMR are slim-to-none—and you wouldn’t want to work for a practice that’s stuck in the pen-and-paper past, anyway (the dream of the ’90s might be alive in Portland, but it won’t survive

How an EMR Can Work Miracles for Your Billing Process

by |July 27th, 2015

Physical therapy billing is a process that begins well before your patients even enter your clinic. If your process is efficient, your bottom line likely will grow as a result of your efforts. However, if your process isn’t streamlined, you might find yourself regularly dealing with claim denials and reimbursement delays. And when it comes to process efficiency, there are few factors more influential than your software. I’m talking about your physical therapy EMR. Because with the right EMR in place, your billing process can miraculously transform from a pain-in-your-rear-end into a revenue-boosting machine. Here’s how: Decreased Errors Human error is inevitable. Why? Because we’re only, well, human. In general, making a mistake affords you the opportunity to learn a

Billing Software vs. Billing Service—and How Your EMR Fits into the Picture

by |July 23rd, 2015

In today’s post, billing software takes on billing service, and I’m giving you a ringside seat. In this epic billing showdown, we’ve got two fierce competitors. (Cue the entrance music, please.) Coming in from the cloud and weighing in at, well, nothing is your in-house hero: billing software. And hailing from Anytown, USA, our second contender has fast fingers and laser-sharp focus on timely filing: It’s the trusted billing service! Let’s have a fair fight, shall we? (Ding, ding.) Billing Software Billing is a big job, but someone’s got to do it—and when you use a billing software, that someone is you (or another member of your billing staff). If you’re a billing heavyweight—or if you’re willing to hire someone

Is Your EMR Ready for ICD-10?

by |July 20th, 2015

It’s only a matter of time before the leaves start changing and the pumpkin spice lattes start flowing—and that means the October 1 transition to ICD-10 is just around the corner. But rather than kicking their preparations into high gear, many providers are kicking back and relaxing—because their EMRs already have everything handled, right? Right? Anyone? Bueller? Unfortunately, not all EMRs are created equally—and not all are equally prepared for the impending ICD-10 transition. So, how do you make sure your system is in fighting shape for ICD-10? For starters, nail down the answers to the following questions: 1. Does your EMR prompt you to document specific details of the patient’s injury or condition? One of the biggest reasons the

Help! I Got a New Job, and They Still Use Paper!

by |July 8th, 2015

Unless it’s your one-year wedding anniversary, you probably don’t want anyone to give you paper. And if you’ve just started a new job in the rehab therapy industry, you really don’t want anyone to give you paper. When it comes to documentation, paper doesn’t just kill trees—it can kill your new employer’s bottom line. But I don’t have to tell you that, do I? In fact, I’m preaching to the choir, but if you’re reading this article, you likely aren’t the ultimate decision-maker. However, you do have a voice, and you can use it to be an EMR champion at your new clinic. Here’s how: 1. Ask why the clinic still uses paper. Do they fear EMR? Are they worried

Use at Your Own Risk: The Downside of Server-Based Systems

by |June 22nd, 2015

Server-based EMR systems are risky business—and not in the fun, dance-in-your-skivvies-and-socks kind of way. These chunky monkeys are chock-full of old technology that expose your clinic to compliance risks and data losses. Here’s why you should steer clear of server-based systems: Your PHI is only as secure as your clinic. Most web-based EMR vendors store all their data with top-tier security firms, so you can be sure your patients’ protected health information (PHI) is safe. But if you have a server-based system, all your priceless information is stored on-site—often unencrypted—which makes the responsibility of securing your patients’ PHI yours and yours alone. Unless you’re storing your servers in a bank vault (and who has that kind of space?), you run

4 Reasons You’ll Need an EMR for Pay-for-Performance

by |June 19th, 2015

There’s no stopping payment reform, and no matter how tightly you cling to the fee-for-service structures you know—and, um, love?—you can’t slow the nationwide transition to a pay-for-performance environment. And it should come as no surprise that the move toward innovative payment structures goes hand-in-hand with the push for widespread adoption of innovative healthcare technologies, including electronic medical records (EMRs). But while federal initiatives—like the meaningful use program—have ushered medical professionals in other specialties into the technological age, physical therapists have, by and large, been left to fend for themselves on the EMR front. And if you’re a PT who hasn’t yet jumped on the EMR bandwagon, the pay-for-performance movement might be exactly the nudge you need to take the

Speak and Spell: Sounding Out Common Healthcare Jargon

by |June 12th, 2015

Imagine: It’s 1985 and you’re fresh out of batteries. And that—unfortunately—means your spelling mentor (housed in bright red plastic) is out of commission for the night. It looks like you’ll be going to bed early—and without the familiar, robotic voice of Speak & Spell to coax you into dreamland. Okay, so you’re probably wondering what an old-school children’s toy has to do with you—or this post. Well, that’s a great question, and the answer lies in the alphabet soup that makes up the modern glossary of healthcare jargon. As a PT, you’re bombarded with new terms that pop up left and right. In fact, with so many new vocab words and acronyms, you might not feel much different than you

3 Signs Your EMR Fails to Scale

by |June 9th, 2015

If you’re ready to start expanding your practice, you’ve probably spent a great deal of time making sure your staff is on board and getting your financials in order. But have you considered the impact your EMR might have on the success or failure of your expansion venture? Here are three signs your EMR isn’t built to support a growing clinic: 1. It makes you pay per patient or per visit. If your EMR vendor charges you per chart or per visit, it’s impeding the growth of your business—and your bottom line. Under this kind of payment structure, increasing the number of patients your clinic treats means increasing the amount you pay your software vendor each month. Instead of working

One-Size-Fits-All Software Zaps Productivity

by |May 27th, 2015

Have you ever worn one-size-fits-all clothing? If not, let me give you a word of advice: it’s not actually made to fit everyone. If you wear it, you’ll likely spend half your day tugging, twisting, and jerry-rigging your outfit so it works for your body. Sounds pretty annoying, right? Now imagine applying that same one-size-fits-all approach to EMR software. As a 2010 UC Davis study discovered, implementing that kind of technology could spell disaster for your practice. This four-year study focused on roughly 100 physicians—specializing in either internal medicine, pediatrics, or family practice—from six primary care offices, all of which were part of a large primary care physician network affiliated with an academic medical center. These offices had implemented a

The Software Bamboozle No One in the PT Industry is Talking About

by |May 20th, 2015

Nowadays, shopping for business software is a lot like shopping for a car. You do a lot of online research; you ask friends and coworkers for their recommendations; and you take some test drives. One thing—besides the price tag—that can ruin the whole experience? You pulling out of the lot with your shiny, new investment—and an uneasy inkling that maybe, just maybe, you got the wool pulled over your eyes. Of course, when you buy a car and you get that feeling, you talk to folks about it. The same can’t be said for the PT industry, though. Certain software have been duping us for many years now—and yet, we remain silent. That stops today. There are three ways physical

EMR Compliance + Clinic Compliance = Complete HIPAA Compliance

by |April 24th, 2015

Got EMR? Great! But don’t assume that means you’ve got total compliance. Your EMR company has (or should have) compliance safeguards to ensure that their systems are secure, but your EMR is just one part of the compliance equation. To truly keep your clinic’s protected health information (PHI) secure, you must account for all the variables, like access to your facility, workstations, and devices as well as staff training on proper procedure. According to the new HIPAA Security Rule, covered entities are obligated to “maintain reasonable and appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards for protecting e-PHI.” If you are a covered entity—i.e, a “health care provider who transmits health information in electronic form in connection with a transaction for which

How to Implement an EMR in 4 Easy Steps

by |April 13th, 2015

If your PT clinic currently uses pen and paper for documentation, implementing an electronic medical record (i.e., EMR) in your clinic might seem like a daunting task. All new technology comes with a learning curve, but implementing an EMR system doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are four easy steps to get you up and running: 1. Identify your needs. As you begin your search for an EMR, you’ll need to examine your clinic’s needs. On the most basic level, your clinic needs an EMR designed with your specific workflow in mind. That means choosing a PT-specific EMR system. The technology should improve your workflow, not make it more difficult. Additionally, the ideal EMR is web-based and comes with month-to-month terms of service. Steer clear of long-term

Why You Shouldn’t Stick It Out with Your Software

by |March 17th, 2015

Are you unhappy with your current EMR? If so, you’re not alone. Every year, thousands of rehab therapy professionals suffer through clunky documentation processes, delayed reimbursements, and manual—which means time- and resource-consuming—updates (cue saccharine Sarah McLachlan song). But it doesn’t have to be like that. For as little as a few dollars a day, you can rescue a rehab therapy professional from the cruelty of antiquated and dysfunctional EMRs. Okay, so maybe the current EMR market doesn’t quite call for an ASPCA-esque commercial, but for rehab therapy professionals who deal with ill-designed EMRs every day, the struggle is very real. According to a 2013 report from Orem, Utah-based research firm KLAS, private practice providers “are leaving their vendors at an

4 Tips for Switching EMR Systems

by |February 16th, 2015

If you’ve made the switch from paper documentation to an EMR system, there’s no doubt you’ve already invested time, money, and hard work into implementing it. If this is the case, but you’ve found yourself trapped by an EMR that doesn’t work for your clinic, it doesn’t mean you have to stick it out forever; in fact, you shouldn’t. As a business owner, it can be difficult to stomach the idea of changing EMRs—especially when you have dozens of therapists, multiple locations, and hundreds of patients to consider. But if your EMR is causing you more pain than it’s worth, then it might be time to make the switch to a system that works better for your clinic. And if

5 PT Industry Predictions for 2015

by |December 30th, 2014

I’m no fortune teller; I don’t have a crystal ball, and I can’t see into the future. But like a good sports analyst or meteorologist, I can make some educated hypotheses. And while I definitely couldn’t tell you who’s going to win the Super Bowl next month—or what the weather will be like at kick-off—I’m pretty confident about these five predictions of the topics and trends that will have the biggest impact on the physical therapy community in 2015: 1. Outcomes The healthcare industry is changing, and in the never-ending quest to control costs while simultaneously elevating the quality of care patients receive, outcomes have emerged as a vital component of the pay-for-performance reimbursement models many payers are embracing. For

Your EMR May Be Online, But is it Social?

by |October 28th, 2014

EMRs and social media: you might be wondering if—and how—the two are related. To start, it’s possible that you—a tech-savvy PT—use one or the other on a daily basis. Furthermore, EMRs and social media both represent innovative solutions for expediting communication, collecting data, and connecting with people. Lastly, EMRs and social media are both web-based. (Wait, is your EMR server-based? That’s not good. Here’s why.) Your EMR enables you to create documentation that is cleaner and easier to track than paper notes. Thus, when you have questions about a patient’s history, you turn to your EMR for answers. There, you can find information about the patient’s past as well as his or her current condition and progress. But, where do

EMR in the Exam Room: What Patients Really Think

by |May 21st, 2014

Making the switch from paper documentation to an electronic medical record (EMR) is a big change. And as with any major shift from the norm, the prospect of implementing an EMR in your practice probably comes with a few concerns—about how it will impact you, your staff, and the overall health of your business. But while there’s plenty of information out there to help alleviate skepticism about the value of EMR from the provider standpoint, data demonstrating a link between electronic documentation and improved patient experience is a bit more elusive. So, to get a better idea of how patients feel about electronic records, The Profitable Practice—a publication of Software Advice—conducted a survey of 4,500 US patients to see whether

4 Reasons Your EMR is Bad for Business

by |May 1st, 2014

Your clinic already has an EMR, but it’s less than ideal. In fact, you frequently wonder whether it might bring you more satisfaction if you threw the whole computer off the roof of your building. But don’t despair. There are actually good ones out there. Here are four reasons why your current EMR is bad for business and it’s time to make a switch: 1. It’s designed for physicians. While they share a doctoral title and a love for caring for people, physical therapists and physicians certainly don’t share the same documentation needs. If your EMR is designed for an MD instead of a PT, you’re probably having a heck of a time developing Band-Aid fixes and workarounds to ensure

Avoid These Common EMR Pitfalls

by |April 25th, 2014

You’re shopping around for an electronic medical record (EMR) solution for your physical therapy practice, and boy, are there a lot of options. You’re trying to make up your mind, but you need to be absolutely sure. After all, implementing an EMR is a big commitment, one that will dramatically affect your clinic’s workflow. The last thing you need is a nagging feeling that this major change won’t absolutely be for the better. To prevent any inkling of buyer’s remorse, be sure to avoid these common pitfalls during the EMR selection process: Cost-per-chart or per-visit pricing The EMR solution you choose should help your clinic’s cash flow—not deplete it. So, select one that offers a cost-per-user payment structure rather than

Four Web-Based EMR Myths Exposed

by |April 15th, 2014

Spend enough time scrolling through Facebook, perusing magazine headlines in the grocery store checkout line, or catching snippets of daytime television in the waiting room, and you’re bound to get a healthy dose of gossip. Typically, we assume that the grapevine babble stops with Miley Cyrus just being Miley or politicians getting caught doing smarmy things. In reality, though, rumors swirl everywhere—even within the healthcare industry. Take web-based EMR for example. Do you know the myths from the truth? Myth: The Internet’s not secure enough to keep my important data safe. Truth: With so much at stake, data security should be one of your top priorities—but don’t write off the Internet just yet. As Power Your Practice points out, web-based

Imagine a PT-Designed EMR

by |April 7th, 2014

Israel Green-Hopkins, MD, recently wrote a pretty interesting article for KevinMD about an imaginary physician-designed electronic medical record (EMR). He begins by saying that the thought alone “should make us all cringe,” because a clinician-designed product “is doomed [to be] limited [in] scope and lack…forward-thinking trajectory. Yet, the concept of integrating and considering the physician point of view and workflow is critical to successful EMR functionality.” While we definitely don’t agree with his first point—that a physician-designed EMR should make us cringe—we do think there is a lot to be said for a clinician-technologist partnership in the creation of a technological tool for clinicians. It just makes sense: two heads—with two specific, perfectly relevant skill sets—are most definitely better than

Three Things Your Boss Wants to Know About EMR

by |March 31st, 2014

So, you’ve been bitten by the EMR bug. We don’t blame you. There are so many ways an EMR will make your  work life easier; it’s a wonder it didn’t happen sooner. If you’re not the decision-maker (read: money-spender) in your clinic, though, you might have some convincing to do. But tell your boss the things he or she wants to hear about EMR—all true, of course—and you’ll be well on your way to ditching the pen and paper in favor of some sweet, time-saving technology. 1. It solves a specific problem. You and I both know that the right EMR (cough, WebPT) has a plethora of amazing benefits—everything from intuitive initial evaluations specifically designed to meet the needs of

5 Ways to Improve Patient Compliance in Your Clinic

by |March 24th, 2014

Everything you do, you do for your patients—to help them lead healthier, happier, more pain-free lives. So, I can only imagine how frustrating it must be when a patient misses an appointment, skips home exercises, or in some other way fails to comply with your well-meaning requests. You are, after all, a doctor—a musculoskeletal expert who wants nothing more than to see your patients recover. If begging and pleading has gotten you nowhere, here are five things you can do to improve patient compliance in your clinic: 1. Communicate Clearly Let’s start by giving patients the benefit of the doubt. After all, most of them genuinely want to get better, too. So, maybe they just misunderstood what you were saying.

What Twitter Can Teach You About EMR

by |March 18th, 2014

By now you probably know that Twitter is great for communicating with potential customers and creating a public voice for your practice, but did you know that you also can use this social media platform as a real-time news source and learning tool? You can search using hashtags or relevant keywords to pull up all sorts of wonderful information—everything from 140-character op-eds and inspirational stories to advice from the experts and links to the biggest news sources around the world. So what can Twitter teach you about electronic medical record (EMR) systems? Let’s find out. Adoption statistics: Benefits: New news sources: The future of EMR: What patients want: Advice for finding the right vendor: EMR on an international scale: Challenges

The EMR Mandate

by |March 13th, 2014

Per the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, all eligible public and private healthcare providers across the US must have adopted an electronic medical record (EMR) and demonstrated meaningful use by January 1, 2014, to continue receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. Incentives and Penalties To facilitate this transition—which meets the United States’ goals of improving quality, safety, and efficiency; reducing medical disparities; engaging patients and family members; improving care coordination; and maintaining privacy and security—the government is offering financial incentives for compliance and assessing penalties for non-compliance. Specifically, according to this CMS webpage, eligible providers can receive up to $44,000 and/or up to $63,750 through the incentive programs for Medicare and Medicaid, respectively. On the other hand, eligible

Three Things You Can Do To Make Your EMR Implementation a Success

by |March 10th, 2014

So, you’re pretty sure, fairly positive, almost certain you’re ready to pull the trigger on a new EMR for your practice. Congratulations! You’re making a wonderful decision for yourself, your staff, and your patients. But, before you take the next step, take a few minutes to read this post. Here are three things you should do to ensure your EMR implementation is a success: 1. Choose the Best EMR First and foremost, if you’re a physical therapist, you should choose a physical therapy-specific EMR. It sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many clinicians overspend on a one-size-fits-all solution and then end up wasting precious time on workarounds and Band-Aid fixes because the product simply doesn’t meet their

Web-Based vs. Web-Enabled: The Tale of Two EMRs

by |March 4th, 2014

So much of what we do nowadays, we can accomplish online—from tax preparation and banking to movie watching and shopping. It’s no wonder that so many electronic medical record (EMR) systems—tools that allow medical providers to digitally document, schedule, and bill—are accessible online, too. Of course, these EMRs aren’t all the same. Most do not take into account the workflow or treatment style specific to physical therapy. Beyond that, some aren’t even truly “online.” That’s right, there are server-based EMRs out there masquerading as web-based applications by calling themselves “web-enabled.” Don’t be fooled; here’s why you should skip the tricksters and go for the real deal: True Web-Based In a cloud- or web-based system, the EMR stores your clinic’s data—which

Give Yourself the Gift of EMR

by |February 28th, 2014

The traditional gift-giving holidays are all behind us now—even Cupid has holstered his bow and arrow—but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to something really nice just because. Give yourself the gift of EMR this spring, and say goodbye to writing, filing, and lugging paper charts—a pain, whatever the season. And that’s not all. With the right EMR, you’ll get these other great gifts that just keep on giving, too: Legible, Accessible, and Defensible Documentation All physicians must transition to EMR by 2014, and there’s a reason for that: compared to paper charting, EMRs are better able to provide the medical community as a whole with legible, accessible, and defensible documentation. And that’s important for both patients and providers,

4 Reasons Why You’ll Need an EMR for ICD-10

by |February 26th, 2014

With the switch to ICD-10 looming on the horizon, many healthcare providers are searching for a catch-all solution to ensure a smooth, snag-free transition. As this article points out, while there’s really no “magic bullet” for ICD-10, adopting an electronic medical record (EMR) will definitely help ease some of the pain associated with implementing this new diagnosis code set. In fact, the thought of tackling ICD-10 without an EMR is close to inconceivable. Here’s why: 1. It will be your life preserver in a sea of new codes. If you’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of codes included in ICD-10, you’re not alone. To give you an idea of the scope, there are more than 68,000 ICD-10 diagnosis codes and 72,000 procedural

PQRS 2014: Why Go Registry-Based with an EMR

by |December 30th, 2013

At the end of November, Medicare released its Final Rule, which, among other things, included all the nitty gritty details of next year’s physician quality reporting system (PQRS). And if there was any doubt that registry-based reporting with an EMR was the way to go in 2013, there isn’t any in 2014. Here’s why: 1. Registry-based reporting is much easier. Your first decision when it comes to PQRS—assuming that you’ve already acknowledged that it’s in your very best interest to comply—is which reporting method to use: claims-based (lots of work) or registry-based (easy as pie). You see, with claims-based reporting, it’s all on you. You’re responsible for remembering what to report, for whom, and how frequently as well as for

Three Ways an EMR can Boost Your Compliance Confidence

by |December 5th, 2013

Feeling confident about compliance is rare among most healthcare professionals—and that includes rehab therapists. Of course, most PTs know the terms “therapy cap,” “functional limitation reporting,” “PQRS,” “the 8-minute rule,” and “MPPR,” but, in our experience, few can say with confidence that they are fully compliant—especially without the help of an EMR. Yet, compliance requirements remain in place, and payment denials, penalties, fines, audits, and a whole lot of complications await those practitioners who don’t take the requirements seriously. So, if an EMR can help you boost your compliance confidence, what are you waiting for? Here’s proof: 1. Complete Documentation Each regulation has its own distinct and often complicated set of documentation requirements, but the right EMR can sort all

Why Your EMR Should Tailor to Physical Therapy, Not Meaningful Use

by |November 21st, 2013

If you’re in the market for an EMR, you already know there are tons of options out there. And as a savvy shopper, you’re probably trying to whittle down your list of “maybes” to a few “very likelies” before you have to make a final decision. With features galore, it might be tough to figure out which ones will be most beneficial to you and your practice. And on top of that, some EMRs are certified for a particular purpose, such as meaningful use. By now, most healthcare practitioners have at least heard of meaningful use. Perhaps you have, too. Essentially, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the federal government began offering financial incentives—up to $44,000

Compliance and Security: Cloud-Based vs. Server

by |November 13th, 2013

HIPAA Compliance: Why Cloud-Based EMR is Your Security Champ At this point, I think it is safe to say that sensitive data—such as patient records—is more secure in digital storage (i.e., electronic medical records) than it is in filing cabinets (i.e., paper charts). Software Advice’s analysis on the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 2011 HIPAA security violation report supports this observation. But data security—and therefore HIPAA compliance—isn’t as cut-and-dried as computer-versus-filing cabinet. In fact, paper isn’t even a contender in this discussion. When it comes to patient data and security in today’s medical landscape, the two duking it out are both digital—and cloud-based has run away with the title. Cloud. Server. What’s the Difference? In a cloud-

5 Questions to Ask when Evaluating an EMR Company

by |October 22nd, 2013

The Internet’s a wonderful place, a place where you can find just about anything your heart desires—from the recipe for your favorite restaurant’s puttanesca to step-by-step directions on how to go green in your clinic. It’s also where you can find information about the products you need to keep your business running smoothly, including information about electronic medical records (EMRs). Here are five questions to ask when evaluating an EMR company: 1. What are people saying about the company? While you certainly shouldn’t believe everything you read online, you can use a few good Google searches to give yourself an idea of what people think about your potential vendor (partner, if you choose the right one). Pay attention, of course,

5 Reasons Why You Should Switch to EMR

by |October 11th, 2013

Change is hard, but in an age where technology and innovation rule, it’s also inevitable. And in an increasingly digital world, paper records are quickly falling by the wayside in virtually every industry—rehab therapy included. If you’re still documenting on paper, you might be reluctant—and maybe even a little scared—to make the jump to an electronic medical record (EMR). After all, you’ve been using a paper system for years, and it seems to be working just fine. So what’s all this fuss about going digital? Read on to discover five good reasons why rehab therapists should make the switch to EMR. 1. It’s the way of the future. Actually, it’s quickly becoming the way of the present. As detailed in

Social Media + EMR. Awesome or Awful?

by |September 30th, 2013

Social Media Social media is all the rage these days—and that goes for Facebook (with 1.5 billion active users), Twitter (with 200 million), LinkedIn (with 238 million), and Pinterest (with 70 million). And these numbers are increasing steadily. Take Facebook, for example. The 1.5 million active users I referenced above is 23% more than the number of active users the company had in early 2012. That’s enormous growth in just a year. According to Zephoria, this should quell any lingering doubts you may still have about the The Social Network because—statistically speaking—“Facebook is too big to ignore.” And as far as we’re concerned, so are the rest. Hopefully, you’re tapping into the magic that is social media to enhance your

Four Ways EMR Can Enhance Patient Care

by |September 18th, 2013

If you’re considering implementing an electronic medical record (EMR) in your rehab therapy practice, you’ve probably already gotten the skinny on the numerous ways an EMR will benefit you and your business: reduced errors, maximized reimbursements, simplified Medicare and HIPAA compliance, improved efficiency—the list goes on. But as a therapist, your ultimate goal—the reason you got into this profession—is to help people. What you might not realize, though, is that an EMR can actually enhance the quality of care you provide to your patients. Read on to find out how. 1. It’s a time-saver. Even if you have the slickest filing system in the world—color-coded tabs, anyone?—it will never compare to the efficiency and convenience of an EMR. If you

5 Reasons Why a Free EMR isn’t All That

by |September 13th, 2013

When it comes to an EMR, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I could rattle off clichés ’til the cows come home, but you get the point: you get what you pay for. Now this isn’t always the case; there are plenty of fantastic services, experiences, and products out there that also happen to be fantastically free. But these are not the services, experiences, and products that store and transmit your patients’ protected health information. Nor are they the ones that ensure you are fully HIPAA and Medicare compliant. And they are certainly not the ones that help you run a better practice—and receive proper reimbursement.

How to Decipher Healthcare Jargon (Acronym Alphabet Soup)

by |September 8th, 2013

If you’ve been reading the latest in healthcare regulations, rulings, and requirements, you’ve probably done a good deal of head-scratching. Not only is the writing clear as mud (I’d be remiss not to plug the benefits of good copywriters here), but the US government has also created its own language of initialisms—not all that surprising if you consider the government’s track record (think CIA, FBI, NSA, etc.). But before you get bogged down with these new two-, three-, and five-letter words—and start shouting out a few choice four-letter ones—we thought we’d give you a helping hand. Here’s how you can decipher this acronym alphabet soup—sans Cracker Jack decoder ring. HIT: Health information technology (or health IT) is the electronic exchange

The Future of Electronic Medical Record Management (Part 3)

by |September 2nd, 2013

[If you’ve already ready Part 1 or Part 2, jump to the subtitle below.] The year is 2013, and although we don’t have the technological advancements of say, The Jetsons, we certainly have come a long way. In the last decade, smartphones became omnipresent, Google became a verb, and social networking changed the way we interact with one another. Never before have we had access to so much information—literally—at our fingertips. And although there’s no question that we as a society take full advantage of the newest and neatest technological advances to make our personal lives easier, we don’t always do the same when it comes to our professional ones. Want an example? When was the last time you hand-wrote

Three Reasons You’ll Wish You Used an EMR When You Get Audited

by |August 26th, 2013

Even the word “audit” sounds awful. Think about it. Did you get goose bumps, feel a looming dark presence in the room, or shudder slightly? You’re not alone; I did too. So how do you quell that nauseous feeling in the pit of your stomach when you contemplate an audit? It’s simple: you make sure your practice is audit-proof. Not that you can ever prevent an audit from occurring, but you can certainly take steps to ensure that when one does occur, there’s no skin off your back. For example, if you were concerned about a potential IRS audit, you’d hire a tax expert to make sure your business practices and returns aligned exactly with the letter of the law.

How to Turn Your EMR into a Competitive Advantage

by |August 17th, 2013

The typical pro-EMR argument tends to revolve around documentation. Yes, documenting with an EMR is easier, faster, and all-around less painful than the traditional pen-and-paper method. But documentation is only the tip of the EMR iceberg. If you’ve got the right system in place, it can actually make you more competitive (read: profitable) in business. Interested? I thought you might be. Here are some ways your EMR can give you a leg-up on the competition: Marketing For most rehab therapists, referrals play a crucial role in acquiring new patients. How crucial? Well, according to the APTA’s Marketing to Health Care Professionals guide, 94% of consumers start with their primary care provider when they have pain or mobility concerns. So, it

The Future of Electronic Medical Record Management (Part 2)

by |August 9th, 2013

[If you’ve already read Part 1, jump to the next section below.] The year is 2013, and although we don’t have the technological advancements of say, The Jetsons, we certainly have come a long way. In the last decade, smartphones became omnipresent, Google became a verb, and social networking changed the way we interact with one another. Never before have we had access to so much information—literally—at our fingertips. And although there’s no question that we as a society take full advantage of the newest and neatest technological advances to make our personal lives easier, we don’t always do the same when it comes to our professional ones. Want an example? When was the last time you hand-wrote three pages of anything in

Ensuring a Smooth Transition: Five Things Your EMR Just Has to Have

by |August 4th, 2013

You’re a smart business owner—and as all smart business owners do, you’re weighing the pros and cons of adopting a physical therapy EMR for your practice. Let’s take a look at your lists. I bet by now you’ve got a whole score of pros built up—like how EMR saves time and money, ensures Medicare compliance, integrates your documentation with your scheduling and billing so you can maximize patient visits and get paid, and so on. But maybe in the course of your pro-con list-making, you stumbled across a potential con: the challenge of transitioning to an EMR—the “EMR learning curve,” if you will. And that’s a real thing—a real thing that could be absolutely detrimental to your clinic’s productivity. But

The Future of Electronic Medical Record Management (Part 1)

by |August 2nd, 2013

The year is 2013, and although we don’t have the technological advancements of say, The Jetsons, we certainly have come a long way. In the last decade, smartphones became omnipresent, Google became a verb, and social networking changed the way we interact with one another. Never before have we had access to so much information—literally—at our fingertips. And although there’s no question that we as a society take full advantage of the newest and neatest technological advances to make our personal lives easier, we don’t always do the same when it comes to our professional ones. Want an example? When was the last time you hand-wrote three pages of anything in your personal life? I’m guessing—unless it was a sentimental

5 Things Rehab Therapists Love About EMR

by |July 31st, 2013

We could sing the praises of EMR until we go hoarse, but luckily, we don’t have to (which is a good thing, because we just weren’t cut out for vocal performance). Instead, we asked a few rehab therapy professionals to explain how their EMR helps them achieve greatness not only as a therapist, but also as a businessperson. Here’s what they had to say: It streamlines the billing process and cuts down on the time therapists spend filling out their charges. “We find that there is far less redundant data entry, and less time that our therapists have to spend filling out charge vouchers, and ensuring they match the notes precisely. This of course eliminates billing errors,” says Kerry Siman-Tov,

10 Warning Signs Your Clinic Needs EMR Now

by |July 25th, 2013

You’ve been toying with the idea of an EMR for a while now, and maybe you’re still trying to figure out if making the transition is really the right decision for your clinic. To help, we’ve put together this list of ten warning signs that your clinic needs an EMR now: You’re drowning in paper. Are you swimming in a quagmire of paper chart quicksand? Is your office overflowing with rows upon rows of filing cabinets all jam-packed with loose, dog-eared, and illegible handwritten notes? If you were audited today, would you be able to easily find the notes you made to justify that your services were medically necessary on Sally Joe back in ‘06? If you answered no to