Tips to Start Your New Year on Track

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By Erin Cammarata
Erin Cammarata

It's that time when we review last year's actions and take inventory of the new year. Many of us start the new year with resolutions to improve our health, our financial situations, and our businesses or careers. But according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, an average of 45 percent of Americans make resolutions, and only 8 percent of resolutions are followed through to success. The first two weeks of the new year many people are on track with their goals, but before they know it, they are back where they started.

What changes can you implement to put you on track to add value to your practice, your employees, and your career for the year? Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Create a compliance calendar. This can be a simple spreadsheet that lists compliance to-dos for your practice that will help you meet Medicare and accrediting body standards. Add reminders to complete monthly, quarterly, and annual tasks.
    • Monthly Tasks: Review patient satisfaction surveys, which will give you the opportunity to evaluate your practice and your staff and identify any potential problem areas. The goal of the surveys should be to improve the quality of work and the patient experience in your office, not to place blame. Analyze and review the survey results with your staff and document any changes that will be taking place as a result of the surveys.
    • Quarterly Tasks: Conduct internal chart audits, including billing and coding audits. Review the Medicare patient complaint log. Medicare requires the supplier to give patients a pathway to freely voice grievances and recommend changes in the care or services they are receiving. This should be done through a Medicare beneficiary complaint form. Complaint forms should be addressed and logged as they are received. If your practice has not received any Medicare beneficiary complaints, log that there were no complaints to review.
    • Annual Tasks: Review the budget. Review employee files and conduct annual performance appraisals. Review and document that all certifications, licenses, and registrations are up-to-date. Review the employee and policy/procedure manual and update it as necessary. Review Office of Inspector General (OIG) exclusions for all employees. Review the company's performance management program and update it as necessary. Conduct an office safety inspection. Complete compliance training. Document procedures for and conduct an emergency evacuation drill. Renew the comprehensive liability insurance policy.
  2. Start the new year by scheduling a "state of the union" staff meeting with your team. Review the prior year's lows and celebrate the highlights. Most importantly, create motivation and excitement for the upcoming year. What opportunities are present in your practice to improve patient care and the general patient experience? What opportunities are there to solidify and expand your referral sources? Allow employees to be part of the decision-making process. Set goals as a team and keep employees involved in the planning process. Set quarterly goals and keep the goals alive by revisiting them on a regular basis and tracking the progress toward achieving them.
  3. Set educational goals for the new year. Continued learning should never be seen as a burden. It shouldn't make a difference whether continuing education is a requirement of your state or your accrediting body; continued learning should be an opportunity and an asset to your profession and practice. Ask your employees to research and schedule at least two webinars or continuing educational seminars for the upcoming year. There are plenty of no- or low-cost seminars and webinars that will add value to your employees and your practice.

It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks that it takes to operate your business. Do not lose sight of your objectives and goals. With a new year comes the opportunity for a new start. The suggestions listed, like all suggestions, can only work if they're scheduled and revisited periodically. So, what can you do today to make the most of the opportunities presented by the new year?

Erin Cammarata is president and owner of CBS Medical Billing and Consulting, Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. For more information, contact .