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Physical Therapy Software | Improve Productivity

Physical therapy billing | task manager

A physical therapy practice management system downloads free-floating, uncompleted tasks  that may be clogging your brain and turns them into an effective framework of action items. In other words, it’s a system that pushes action items to you to free your mind from minute details while allowing you to focus on the big picture and important ideas.

As case in point, do you ever wake up at 2 a.m. and remember that you forgot to do something important at work? What are your chances of being able to go back to sleep?

“Centralized task management not only affords my staff and I the ability to track things in one place, it allows complete transparency to who is getting the job done for our clients,” says Jason Barnes, COO at Vericle, Inc. “You know who is sitting on tasks and who is actually completing them.”

Sixty percent of voters in a recent LinkedIn poll agreed with Jason. Only eleven percent use memory or paper to manage their tasks, while the remaining 29 percent use email.

What are the specific benefits of a centralized task management system?

David Allen, a management consultant and the author of “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity,” provides insights into attaining maximum efficiency and at the same time relaxing, to focus energies strategically and tactically without letting anything fall through the cracks. His workflow management plan has two basic components: capture all the things that need to get done into a workable, dependable system; and discipline yourself to make front-end decisions with an action plan for all inputs into that system. In short, do it (quickly), delegate it (appropriately), defer it, or drop it.

Teamwork

The most basic aspect of any physical therapy practice management system is task capture, or documentation. An undocumented task is not worth tracking or talking about. Unless we capture all the tasks in a single system, we will have to rely on multiple tools, hurting our efficiency and efficacy. A centralized task management system also enables transparency. If your documented task ticket is placed in a central task repository then every member of our team sees its status.

That level of transparency across the board creates peer pressure and offers an opportunity to build a framework for formal accountability. If you have to attend regular meetings with your team to review your backlogs, your entire reputation and credibility hang on the timely completion or update of every task that was assigned to you.

These two features, transparency and accountability, formalize the concepts of teamwork and of team player. In an organization that uses a centralized task tracking system, teamwork means eliminating backlogs and a best team player is the member with a smallest backlog. Additionally, when a team member fails to complete a task, the other members know precisely who and when needs help. Teamwork takes specific meaning in terms of helping a specific member accomplish a specific task at a specific time. A centralized ticketing system eliminates the fluff that is usually associated with the word “teamwork” and offers a simple way to measure the degree of teamwork.

Patient Relationship Management

“If you really want to get things done I recommend you go to IQtell” says Bryan Koslow, MBA. “The best task management system that is integrated with email, calendars, and Evernote.”

There are two kinds of task management systems:

  1. General-purpose: a system integrated with email and calendars but not directly integrated with your existing practice management solution.
  2. Specialized: a task management system integrated with a patient appointment system, EMR system, and billing system, which turns your ordinary practice management system into a patient relationship management system.

To be operational and meet customer requirements, both kinds of systems must maintain a high degree of integration. The difference between the general-purpose and the specialized task tracking systems is defined by the sort of systems integrated with your task tracking system.

Getting back to practice management systems, a task tracking system integrated with patient appointment system, EMR system, and billing system, turns your ordinary practice management system into a patient relationship management system. How? The tickets can be automatically generated upon encountering a problem and directly attached to the patient records.

With a specialized system, every patient has a set of tickets distributed across multiple team members. The backlog pertaining to any particular patient defines the relationship management risk, while the backlog associated with every team member defines that member’s teamwork quality. The total of all backlogs across all patients defines the current practice risk. The task of practice management is reduced to ticket prioritization and to driving the ticket backlog to zero.

Pull versus Push

If you use a physical therapy practice management system you should receive tickets on your workbench that pertain to your responsibilities. You do not depend on outdated reports and statuses. So if a patient owes you a balance, an integrated ticketing system will let you know about it when that patient is in front of you and without having you looking up her balance in the system. In other words, a centralized ticketing system turns your practice management system into a Just In Time Information System. The ticketing system flips the information delivery mechanism from Pull into Push, when the system is Pushing information on you instead of making you Pull it from the system.

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Caps on Physical Therapy Sessions Detrimental to Business Growth

This year has been a year of many changes to the medical system. While some of these changes have been beneficiary, a few have been detrimental to professions such as physical therapy. Many physical therapists are facing tough times today. The market is saturated with physical therapists but not enough patients. Laid off physical therapist Jessica Summers explains why.

A few years ago, patients had a cap on how many sessions were covered by their insurance. Medicare made exceptions for patients that suffered from physical ailments such as osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke victims and granted them extensions because they were more likely to need more physical therapy sessions. However, as of October 2012, this is no longer the case.

On October 1, 2012, The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (H.R. 3630) amendment was passed which states:

In applying this paragraph with respect to a request for an exception with respect to expenses that would be incurred for outpatient therapy services (including services described in sub- section (a)(8)(B)) that would exceed the threshold described in clause (ii) for a year, the request for such an exception, for services furnished on or after October 1, 2012, shall be subject to a manual medical review process that is similar to the manual medical review process used for certain exceptions under this paragraph in 2006. Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012

Because of this new amendment, patients that previously had extensions on their therapy sessions were cancelled and their insurance would no longer cover it. Additionally, patients who had exceeded their session limit had to be denied treatment because they could not afford the care.

According to Summers, patients can file an appeal to extend their coverage but because filing the claim and getting it through takes so long, most have been denied. Additionally, there is a typo in the law that makes Speech Therapy and Physical Therapy share a budget. This places a lot of physical therapists and patients in a tough situation. Summers posed the example of a stroke victim who can have multiple issues such as swallowing, walking and speech deficits. Because of the limit, she has to restrict which therapies she can provide and would have to decide which of these would be priority. Based on the previous example a patient would receive treatment for swallowing problem, but the walking and talking deficits would have to wait for another year.

Fortunately, the amendment which enforced the cap is up for vote in January. Jessica, along with many others in the medical profession are hoping for an extension. This would help bring more patients in and create a bigger demand and more jobs for physical therapists.