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:
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 makes sense to keep track of which providers are giving you the most business, right? And it makes even more sense to choose an EMR that does the job for you.
Enter: referral reports. This feature allows you to attach the name of a particular physician to each patient he or she sends your way. Later, you can create a report identifying your best referral sources as well as those that probably need a little more networking attention. Some EMRs also allow you to place your clinic’s logo on all of your digital documents, including physician notes. This not only gives you an extra bit of professional polish, but also puts your brand in front of referral sources on a consistent basis. And as any marketing pro will tell you, when it comes to branding, repetition is key.
In this day and age, “I’ll pencil you in” should be nothing more than a figure of speech. If your EMR includes an electronic scheduling tool—and it definitely should—then your front office staff can easily book or reschedule appointments with the click of a mouse. Plus, most scheduling tools automatically link your patient records to your clinic’s calendar, so you don’t waste valuable time searching for patient charts each time someone checks in. Scheduling tools also aid in managing therapists’ schedules, even in multiple-clinic settings. And if you want to minimize revenue losses due to cancellations and no-shows—and who doesn’t?—look for a system with automatic phone, text, and email appointment reminders, which have been shown to slash no-show rates by more than 30%.
To stay profitable, you’ve got to receive timely reimbursements for your services, and that means minimizing denied claims. How do you do that? Well, submitting clean claims in the first place is an excellent place to start. Some EMRs—including WebPT—offer their own integrated billing service or have certified billing partners. Both options streamline your billing process—and reduce opportunities for error—by eliminating double entry of billing codes and demographic patient information and ensuring seamless transfer of information. And that means you’ll get paid—every time.
If you want to stay in business, getting new patients is essential; but keeping them is pretty important, too. Of course, your merits as a therapist count more than anything else when it comes to patient loyalty, but it doesn’t hurt to offer cool extras like home exercise programs that include photos and videos to help your patients meet their therapy goals. Some EMRs allow you to email these materials directly to your patients, giving them one more reason to follow through on their prescribed home exercise plans—and to come back to you for all of their future therapy needs.
If it seems like Medicare regulations and requirements are changing constantly, it’s because they are. And with everything therapists already have on their plates, who has time to stay up on PQRS, functional limitation reporting, and the like? Luckily, EMRs—especially web-based ones—can help you stay compliant by keeping up with Medicare’s ever-evolving rule book for you—thus ensuring that you meet every standard set forth by CMS. This helps you avoid audits and the steep penalties associated with compliance violations, which in turn allows you to maintain a healthy payer mix of both Medicare and non-Medicare patients. And considering that over the next 17 years, 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65, Medicare’s impact on your clinic’s revenue stream will only continue to grow.
If you were on the fence about EMR before, I hope these insights were enough to tip the scale. After all, we here at PhysicalTherapyEMR.net want your business to thrive so you can keep doing what you do best: treating and healing your patients. So, ditch the pen and paper—and then let your EMR help take your clinic to the next level.