A whopping 80 million people affected by the data breach at health insurer Anthem in February 2015. The month before, 11 million patient records compromised in the Premera BlueCross BlueShield breach. More recently, illegal access to another 10 million people’s protected health information occurred at Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield.
It’s perhaps no surprise that healthcare tops the list of industries compromised by security breaches in the first half of 2015, according to a report from Gemalto. As their Data Breach Infographic shows, 34% of the total reported breaches occurred in healthcare, followed by 31% affecting government files and 15% involving technology firm records.
Why is healthcare data a growing target? Part of the answer is money. According to Security Week, thieves and hackers make an average $363 on each compromised medical file. Given the extent of some of these security events, that could really add up.
If you run a medical practice, supervise billing staff or even wrangle with the multitudes of rules and regulations yourself, you know medical billing is complicated. The administrative burden of running a financially sound medical group is consuming more and more valuable time for physicians, practice administrators and CFOs.
The switch to ICD-10 codes is only making things more complex. If you’re like most providers, you’re now spending more time searching for the most precise diagnostic codes for the patient in front of you. This complexity transfers over to getting paid for your services, which could be one of the reasons more physicians are turning to medical billing companies for help.
It’s clear we’re in the midst of some major changes. But what lies on the horizon for health IT and medical billing?
Update October 7, 2015: AMA prevails again, with CMS making attestation for Stage 3 Meaningful Use optional in 2017.
As it stands now, CMS expects some eligible physicians in their EHR incentive program to meet Meaningful Use Stage 3 criteria starting in 2017.
The AMA and other medical groups, however, last week asked CMS to hold off for one year.
EHR interoperability needs more time, they say. Besides, if electronic health records do not interface and communicate seamlessly, it could impair the new Medicare payment reform known as MACRA, AMA President Steven J. Stack, MD, wrote in his letter to CMS. He adds that MACRA came along after the meaningful use program started.
“Pausing to reassess Stage 3 rules will not stop or delay progress with EHRs. On the contrary, we firmly believe a temporary period of reevaluation will help move the program forward and drive innovation and adoption,” Dr. Stack says.
How will the trend for more and more people with high-deductible health insurance plans affect your physician practice? After all, some experts predict patients paying a greater share of medical expenses could hesitate to come for care as often if — financially speaking — there’s more on the line for them.
Education is a great strategy to keep these patients healthy and engaged in their care.
The time you put into informing patients could pay off in the long term for their outcomes, as well as for the health of your medical business. Remember these high-deductible plans are new to many people, including the estimated 17 million more Americans with insurance since passage of the Affordable Care Act.
First off, the traditional question for patients is changing from ‘Do you have insurance?’ to ‘What kind of insurance do you have?’ as Medical Economics points out.
Telemedicine can make sense when your patients come from far and wide, you offer unique expertise, or you’re looking to add an ancillary service to your growing medical group. And with telehealth’s reach expanding, the 143,000+ member strong American College of Physicians offers advice for doctors considering connecting with patients remotely.
Their take on telemedicine in 2015 includes challenges, cautions and benefits for primary care doctors adopting telehealth. The ACP position paper is worth a read — even if you’re still only thinking about expanding the reach of your medical group using this evolving technology.
Sometimes medical groups need to make major decisions. And whether it’s adding an ancillary service, opening a new office or updating your practice software, there comes a time when the talk turns to action.
So when that day arrives, where do you start? How can you — already multitasking all day long — keep the workflow flowing and steer your medical group toward the right long-term decision?
Start by involving all your physicians in the decision-making process. For example, if you’re looking for new practice management software, engage the providers who’ll be using it every day. Get their buy-in early. That way, some won’t resist the change as much.
It’s about informing them at the same you help them through their fear of change.