It may be the most frustrating, but also the most necessary, job your therapy clinic is responsible for: communicating with your patients’ primary care providers (PCPs). Relying on another office (that may not run as efficiently as yours) to return crucial documents on time is just not fun. We get it! When a PCP doesn’t sign a patient’s plan of care (POC) within the given window, or their admin staff simply doesn’t get it back to you on time, it can be a detriment to your patient’s continuity of care and your billing process (and not in a good way).
Hope is not lost, however. Instead of simply accepting the resulting inefficiencies as the way it has to be forever, consider that there are some things you can do to smooth the communication on your end. Following are seven essential tips for making your most dreaded communication-related tasks a lot simpler:
- Keep good records so you don’t have to go searching for anything. We suggest electronic ones, of course. No matter who is digging for information – whether it’s you as the owner, one of your office admins, or a therapist – there should be one reliable place they can all look for crucial data. This can be achieved with paper files, but only until someone accidentally misplaces that all-important intake form or proof of insurance. That won’t happen when you store critical info in an EMR.
- Train your therapists to complete documentation on time. As you know, failing to have an evaluation/POC signed by a doctor in a reasonable amount of time can lead to putting patients on hold. This negatively impacts insurance claim processing time, which means you and your therapists are waiting even longer than you already do to receive payment! A good way to reduce this risk is to require that therapists complete all documents within 48 hours after treatment, ensuring that your clinic won’t be responsible for any delays in processing paperwork. TheraPlan’s dashboard Open Encounters tile can make this easy. Any unfinished treatment notes or evaluations will be immediately visible upon logging in, so there’s no way therapists will forget about them.
- Get ahead of reevaluation deadlines. In addition to finishing and submitting reevaluation documentation to the PCP on time, it’s a good idea to have therapists complete them as early as possible. We suggest 30 days in advance of the previous plan of care’s expiration. That way, there’s no pressure if PCPs take a bit too long to be signed and sent back. More importantly, there won’t be even a short period of time in which a patient can’t be treated due to a pending plan of care (POC).
- Keep all intake forms and doctor’s contact info in the patient’s chart. We cannot stress enough the importance of creating systems for maintaining centralized records in your clinic. It’s critical that every person who will come in contact with patient charts understands the protocol you have established. Whether you have a large office or no clinic and only home-based therapists, keeping documents in one place is possible and easy with a web-based EMR.
- Set up email encryption and connect your email client to TheraPlan. Secure, HIPAA-compliant communication is non-negotiable in the therapy industry. Yet, trying to monitor this as a clinic owner can become stressful and risky. We recommend that all our clinic owners set up a HIPAA-compliant email service of their choice, then simply connect the email client to TheraPlan in order to send patients records safely and conveniently with the click of a button from inside our EMR.
- Use TheraPlan’s new TheraFax feature. Send documents to a doctor’s office or insurance company right from your EMR, and receive their replies from within our software. We anticipate that this integrated faxing service will double your clinic’s efficiency when it comes to sending POCs to all of the PCPs with whom your clinic needs to communicate.
- Network with the doctors in your community. A personal connection can go a long way. When a PCP or their admin staff recognize the name of a clinic on an incoming fax or email, they will be likely to prioritize it. Not only will networking increase your referrals, but you’ll find that communication is much more comfortable if you know the doctor personally, especially when you need to call their office with a concern or request.
There are quite a few steps you can take to improve your clinic’s administrative efficiency regarding communication with primary care providers. The best side effect of paying attention to the above advice is less stress for you!
This issue is such a priority for us that we built it into our software. Try sending your emails and faxes directly from TheraPlan and see for yourself what a difference this makes for your clinic. Click here to speak to our team about adding TheraFax to your account.