Considerations to Prepare Your Practice for the New Year

By: Jennifer Heiligman, PT, MPT

As the new year approaches, we wanted to offer some tips and information to help you prepare your rehab therapy practice.  Getting started in the new year on the right foot will help set up your clinic for success.  This includes some important beginning of the year housekeeping tasks, as well as investigating new processes to implement which will help your practice be more efficient. 

Reverify Eligibility and Benefits

Most health insurance plans are active for one calendar year beginning on January 1st.  For this reason, it is highly recommended that you reverify your current patient’s eligibility and benefits at the beginning of each year.  This includes making sure their plan is active, any copay or deductible is documented, authorization requirements are noted and any visit limitations are included.  Many things could have changed since their plan was initially verified.  The patient may have switched plans and now may require an authorization or have a limit on the number of visits they are allotted.  Worst case may be that the patient has switched insurance companies all together and did not make you aware of the change.

If you are an OptimisPT user you can use the “Print Benefits” sheet as a way to have the patient acknowledge their benefits.  Once you enter in the new payment source you can then have the patient sign the benefits sheet indicating they are aware of their benefits for the new year.  The signed sheet should then be kept as part of their electronic medical record in the patient’s OptimisPT chart.

Reset Visit Counts

If you have patients who are continuing their care into the new year, you should reset their visit counts within your EMR, if appropriate.  This will help ensure accurate usage of the patient’s benefits in the new year.  If you are an OptimisPT user you can find instructions on resetting the visit count on Optimis University.

Review Payer Updates

Payers themselves may be making updates and changes to their policies and procedures.  It is a good idea to check your payer’s webpages to review any changes they have initiated for the new year.  For example, Medicare usually changes their deductible and cap amounts for each new year, your workers compensation plans may have added new employers that they now work with, and one of the major insurers now requires providers to go through a third party vendor to obtain authorizations.  If you are not aware of all of these changes it can affect the success of your practice.

Review Your Workflow

The beginning of the year is a good time to take a look at the current workflow in your practice.  Assess how aspects of your business are being run from the front office to the therapists to the billing department.  Analyze each step to see if there are changes that can be made in order to improve efficiency and save time.  Now is the time to eliminate any redundant steps.  Work with your staff to establish new, more efficient workflows.

Review Available EMR Features

While reviewing your internal workflows, also take a look at your EMR and any features you may not be taking advantage of.  We all get very busy throughout the year.  Your EMR may have released updates and you didn’t even realize.  There may be features available that could significantly improve your efficiency.

For example, does your EMR have a Patient Portal?  By using a patient portal you will be able to decrease the need for manual entry into the system and you’ll save on the cost of paper.  Embedded Outcome Measures that can be sent to your patients electronically are also a big time saver.  In addition, make sure your staff are taking advantage of the compliance alerts and reminders so you are protected should your practice ever be selected for an audit.

If you are an OptimisPT user, you have all of the above features and many more available and included in your OptimisPT subscription.  If you have any questions regarding any features, processes or workflows please contact the OptimisPT support team.  If you are not currently using OptimisPT, but would like to learn how our EMR can help your practice succeed in the new year and beyond.