Kick off the New Year Right: Four Things to Help Your Practice

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By Erin Cammarata

There is never a bad time to review, assess, and improve your practice standards. There is just something about a new year, though, that feels like a good time for a fresh start. Implementing these four items should have a positive impact on your practice, and start your new year off on the right path.

Compliance Review

Although there is no specific requirement for HIPAA training, it is recommended that team members receive HIPAA training when they are hired and at least annually thereafter.

Keeping your policy and procedure manual up to date is imperative to keeping your team members informed and to minimizing your risk. Ensure new laws, standards, and regulations are continuously monitored for new information. A new year is a good time to review the company's policy manual, review the laws, and see what needs to be updated, changed, and maintained. 

Accreditation Review

Accreditation standards should be monitored throughout the year; however, a new year is the perfect time to go through and ensure all items that need to be completed annually are being attended to. You don't want to wait until your accreditation is due to update all your records. ABC has a great tool, the Annual Accreditation Task Planner, that outlines the standards and documents that need to be reviewed annually at www.abcop.org/facility-accreditation/patientcare/Pages/2014-Annual-Accreditation-Task-Planner.aspx. 

Contract Review

We are all so busy that the burden of reviewing the insurance contracts is not usually at the top of the to-do list. However, there is no better time to locate, review, and upload the insurance contracts than the beginning of a new decade. Many payer contracts are renewed automatically, but it is still recommended that you regularly review and manage them. 

To outline the specifics, enter the signed date, expiration date, timely filing guidelines, omitted codes, appeal rights, etc. into a spreadsheet to easily review, update, and ensure compliance.

Make sure the correct fee schedule is loaded into the computer and you are getting paid what you are contracted for. 

Goal Setting

Setting goals gives the direction, motivation, and a sense of control that is needed in the new year. Goal setting puts everyone on the same page and gives clear directions for progress.

Some examples of goals are: focusing on collections and setting benchmarks to consistently motivate and help manage the functions of your billing department. Goals may include the number of days in receivable, the indicator of billing performance. Review the goal monthly, discuss areas of improvement, and celebrate reaching that goal.

Set monthly revenue, referral, and sales goals that can be outlined and measured specifically to your practice and the goals you set for your employees. If a goal for the practitioners is for outreach, set a goal of three in-services in 2020 and three personalized thank yous for doctors' referral letters each month.

Set patient experience/satisfaction goals. The first step toward this goal is evaluating the current state of patient satisfaction. This can be done through surveys, reading online reviews, or phone calls to patients. Identify the areas that need improvement, and set individual and global goals to cultivate the patient experience.

Hold an annual state-of-the-business kick-off meeting, with a different theme than a regular staff meeting. During this meeting, review the mission, vision, and goals of the company. Take the opportunity to review the previous year's wins and areas of improvements and provide a financial review and financial goals.

Kicking off the new year with these steps will set an organized and positive tone for this year and every year they are practiced. 

Erin Cammarata is president and owner of CBS Medical Billing and Consulting. She can be contacted at erin@cbsmedicalbilling.com.