therapy billing agency office

3 Advantages of Using an EMR with Therapy Billing Expertise

If you’ve decided to migrate your therapy clinic’s documentation, scheduling, and other regular tasks to an electronic format, you have no doubt been faced with extensive choices. Server-based or web-based? With documentation templates or without? Therapy-specific or general? And how will it integrate with your billing process?

Yet, some of the most important elements of choosing an EMR are the also the most intangible: the things you wouldn’t think to search for, yet would love to have. Isn’t this true for nearly any company we decide to hire or whose services we want to use? We look for that “wow” factor, but can’t seem to identify what that really means.

While we believe TheraPlan’s software has quite a few astounding features, the truth is that our calling card is not something we can list on a brochure or compare to other EMRs on the market. That’s because it’s about our origins and a unique relationship we have with Edwards Electronic Processing (EEP), an experienced Florida therapy billing agency. 

Why should you care about this as a therapy clinic owner? Here are three reasons that using an EMR with close ties to a therapy billing agency could change the way you do business for the better.

1. You’ll be ahead of the curve when it comes to industry changes.
The therapy world is constantly changing. So many facets of daily clinic operations depend on your location, disciplines, insurance vs. Medicaid mix, and the population you serve. Staying on top of these changes is not just an option, either; it’s an absolute must in order to avoid the potentially expensive consequences of an insurance or state audit. Our goal is to make compliance as easy as possible for your entire team.

Some EMRs won’t be able to keep up with the shifting regulations. However, with TheraPlan you get adaptable software that is built upon policies specific to therapists in Florida. Everything from state Medicaid requirements to Early Steps program guidelines are just everyday office fodder for us. Because we talk to the therapy billing specialists at EEP often and make important changes to TheraPlan with their guidance, our clients can count on having an EMR that reflects what’s happening in the industry at any given time. 

2. Customer service is based on more than just technical support.
Sure, it’s helpful to have technical issues resolved quickly, but that doesn’t cover the scope of what a knowledgeable EMR staff could help you with. Why go to multiple sources to learn how to complete documentation with billing stipulations in mind?

When you call TheraPlan’s support desk, you aren’t just getting in contact with one company’s worth of resources. We often consult with the EEP staff and can direct you to a credible source for anything you need above and beyond how to use our system. While we won’t be advising your therapists on the more complex questions in the moment, we know exactly where to send them for the right answers. In addition, we have numerous video tutorials and PDF guides housed inside our application to help. 

To us and our billing agency partners, customer service is much more than just fixing a quick issue. We believe in providing you and every member of your team with solutions: methods that can carry over to more than one patient, and more than one document.

3. Complicated claims become a lot easier to manage when your EMR is built around the data that insurance companies need.
Whether you have in-house staff taking care of billing or you outsource to EEP or another billing agency, having the most thorough documentation possible makes their job so much easier. With standard claims, all the required data for an evaluation, re-evaluation or a treatment, is readily available and in a logical place. Appeals or follow-up phone calls are simple when you can log in to TheraPlan (from anywhere, any time) and verify demographic details and more.

We take pride in the strength of our business relationships. In addition to being in close partnership with EEP, we have other industry professionals, such as the credentialing experts at Clinic Connection, on hand as resources for all our clients. We’re confident you’ll benefit from these ties as a TheraPlan user. Instead of getting one specialized service, you’re connecting to a network of companies that serve the various needs of therapy clinics.

If you want to know more about how our software is developed with ongoing input from EEP’s 25 years of billing experience, schedule a demo. You’ll get a private tour of TheraPlan’s unique features and how they can make your practice more efficient.


6 Hidden Benefits of Using a Web-Based EMR

6 Hidden Benefits of Using a Web-Based EMR

At TheraPlan, we believe in building electronic solutions for every therapy clinic’s needs. One of the primary ways to take your clinic from disorganization to efficiency is to use an EMR. More specifically, a web-based EMR is ideal for many reasons. Getting away from paper-based records in general is a smart idea in our opinion, but we know that not all EMRs are created equal.

You may already realize the more obvious arguments for accessing your documentation, schedule, payroll, and more from any device via a web browser. It can be incredibly convenient, more secure than facility-based storage, and simple to communicate with colleagues. 

However, there are also unexpected advantages to adopting a web-based system over server-based software. Our team has compiled six benefits you may not have thought of: 

  1. Implementation costs can be significantly reduced. Instead of having to worry about upgrading your computers and network or installing an on-site server, you can transition to a web-based EMR quickly and at relatively low cost. As long as you and your team have browsers and a secure internet connection, you’ll be able to onboard to electronic records without much hassle. This is especially advantageous for any home-based therapists, since they won’t have to carry around any new hardware when they’re out in the field.
  2. The ability to pull reports for billing saves you and your admin team time. Most EMRs have report functionality, and having reports accessible online for billing purposes can drastically increase efficiency in your therapy practice. If you take care of billing in-house, your staff will be able to simply log in to your EMR from any device and pull updated reports or export new ones whenever necessary. Billing agencies, like our partner company, also love the convenience of web-based records. When they need details about a treatment or evaluation, or even demographic data for a patient, the agency staff won’t need to call your office. You can simply provide them with secure login credentials for your chosen EMR so they can perform this research themselves. Without the wait time required for back-and-forth communication, you’ll likely notice that the average length of time in which your claims are processed or appealed will shorten. 
  3. It’s possible to keep an up-to-date live waiting list as your practice grows. Some EMRs, such as TheraPlan, allow patients to be placed in categories such as inactive, active, or pending. This is much more useful than a paper waiting list, as every person who views your patient list will know the current status of each patient. Not only does this lessen the frustration of remembering to update a physical list, but can facilitate quick communication with patients who inquire about when they’ll be able to schedule an appointment.
  4. Holding your staff accountable is easy with accurate, accessible records available any time, anywhere. When you can track minute-by-minute edits on documents and see time-stamped signatures, there is no question as to who did what and when. Although oversight may not be your favorite task as a clinic owner, it’s sometimes necessary to review a specific record. On a daily basis, you can also use the history feature of a web-based EMR to see how quickly your therapists are completing documentation. Whether you use it to hold staff to company policies or decide when caseloads have reached an overwhelming level, this data is crucial for business growth.
  5. Standardizing technology across your clinic will no longer be an issue. Since backups and updates are taken care of, your providers can simply use whatever hardware they prefer, as long as it allows access to an internet browser. While you can still recommend certain hardware, you could completely avoid the expense of providing it for all your therapists. This is a huge money-saving benefit. 
  6. You’ll receive outside user tutorials and technical support at the click of a button. The best EMRs will predict the problems or confusion users could experience and provide resources to help. Within TheraPlan, video tutorials and PDF guides are found in our Help & Forms section. We also have a help desk manned with technical support specialists five days a week. We believe this reduces the amount of technical questions your admin staff will receive, thus allowing them to spend their time on other important tasks.

TheraPlan is your source for all info relevant to your therapy practice: patients, treatments, credentials, and more from anywhere you want to access it. Sign up for a demo today to experience both the obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of web-based technology in your clinic.

How to Set Up Internal Audit Procedures to Maintain Your Therapy Clinic’s Compliance

Following legal guidelines is an essential part of running any type of business, but is especially crucial in the therapy field. Though therapy clinic regulations may not be as intense as those for traditional medical specialties, maintaining compliance can still be quite complex. In fact, this is one of the most intimidating factors of starting a therapy clinic, and can be the downfall of a fully operational clinic if audit procedures are not in place.

Since our EMR was built specifically to make it easy for users to comply with HIPAA and Florida CMS guidelines, we understand the ins and outs of audit-proofing your clinic’s protocol and documentation.

To begin establishing internal audit procedures, you’ll first need to thoroughly understand the components of compliance as they relate to therapy clinics. These can vary depending upon the mix of insurance coverage amongst your patients (i.e. the portion of Medicaid patients vs. commercial carrier patients you see). However, some components are true across the board. Here are five key ideas to keep in mind:

  1. Medical necessity. This is an element that many in the therapy world omit from the compliance conversation. However, it’s essential that your documentation reflects the honorable nature of any treatment your therapists provide to patients. According to CMS.gov, including a statement asserting that the therapist believes treatment is medically necessary “supports approval” of a Medicaid or Medicare claim. Therefore, if your office treats patients covered by either public health insurance program, we suggest requiring the medical necessity statement on all documentation that leaves your practice. In our 25+ years of experience with medical billing, we’ve discovered the importance of this verification for the efficiency of approvals, payments, and ultimately, for your patients’ continuity of care. That’s why we’ve included medical necessity checkboxes on all our therapy documentation templates.
  2. Signature and documentation requirements. Hand in hand with the above recommendation, CMS requires that all treatment notes and evaluations be completed and signed within 48 hours of the therapy session. This is both to ensure that the therapist hasn’t forgotten what transpired and can accurately document a patient’s progress, but also for the security of the patient’s records. The time frame of completion is difficult to regulate using paper documentation. With an EMR that locks and time stamps each document, though, any audit personnel will have assurance that you have complied with this rule.
  3. HIPAA. As you should already know, HIPAA is perhaps the most important factor in compliance, as it has been federal law since 1996. Especially if your clinic is growing, it’s imperative to create a mandatory HIPAA training protocol for each new hire. Asking them to sign a statement that they understand HIPAA law does not protect you from potential loss in the event of a violation, no matter how unintentional. It’s a heavy responsibility to ensure that your therapists and admin staff fully comprehend the intricacies of HIPAA and how to comply with everyday office procedures. Yet, it’s absolutely worth your time and effort to close any holes in knowledge that could jeopardize your practice altogether.
  4. Coding and billing. Two of the most significant components in compliance involve the way you keep your business afloat: by submitting and getting paid for the therapy treatments you’ve provided. Thorough documentation is fundamental to a smooth billing process, as are precise units of time. Next is accurate coding. If you rely upon your staff to code treatments in-house, it’s wise to make sure that at least two pairs of eyes fall upon each outgoing evaluation or SOAP note. Completing this manually can increase the room for error, however. When you use TheraPlan, it’s easy for each user to see which CPT codes they’ve filled in on the patient’s most recent document and use a pre-filled dropdown to select the correct code for their specialty. Whether you complete billing yourself or outsource it to an experienced agency, honest and timely billing processes also fall under the umbrella of compliance. 
  5. Miscellaneous administrative factors. These include secure communication with patients, confidentiality, and fair hiring practices. The details may vary based on your practice size and the number of staff you have available to help, but prioritizing organization in all facets of your clinic operations is a good place to start.

If you’ve integrated all of the above factors into your clinic’s procedures, the next step is being able to prove it. In the event of an audit, you’ll most likely be questioned about your protocol for communicating and maintaining compliance in your clinic. Keeping a record of the way you and your staff address each and every requirement can seem overwhelming, but it’s simply a matter of creating a system. Much like you have created a system for payroll, accounting, and other elements of business ownership, this is truly no different. 

As a tech company, we believe in electronic management of internal compliance efforts. Whether you use shared online spreadsheets that track each person’s access and changes or an EMR like TheraPlan, which automatically records each user’s actions within the software, you should find a method you’re comfortable with to track every person who has interacted with documentation and patient records. That way, there’s no doubt as to what has happened in the event of an audit or alleged HIPAA violation. 

Ultimately, compliance is about integrity. Keeping in mind what’s fair and required for all parties, regardless of the amount of effort involved, will protect you in the event of an audit.

Check out TheraPlan’s security-focused software to discover the ways our EMR can simplify this process for you and your staff. 

*Disclaimer: We do not recommend using this blog as your only source of information regarding compliance. Please thoroughly research the regulations that apply to your state and range of specialties prior to preparing your clinic for future audits.

Theraplan note

Therapist Life: The Importance of Keeping an Open Line of Communication with Your Clinic’s Admin Team

When you got your first job as a therapist, you may have realized there’s a lot more to the role than just seeing patients. Sure, your impact on those in need of therapy may be the most important part, but there are lots of other moving pieces that make a clinic run well. A lot of that depends on you! From completing documentation thoroughly and on time to managing a packed schedule, you do much more than interact with patients.

In our opinion, the most critical element of efficiency in a therapy clinic is communication: between therapists and patients, but more importantly, between therapists and administrative staff. Your position in this communication equation is critical. At TheraPlan, we’re all about making your job easy and efficient. Having watched clinics of all sizes deal with internal confusion and conflict over the years, we’ve come up with a few suggestions to avoid such roadblocks. 

We highly recommend you build a solid relationship with your clinic’s admin staff, whether you work in the clinic every day or you’re a home-based therapist who just calls in for specific requests now and then. Here are a few reminders about the significance of the professional connection you have with your admins:

  • Admins are often the ones who follow up on billing claims and ensuring that you get paid! Your income is dependent upon the speed and accuracy with which claims are submitted and tracked. If admins are responsible for this, you’ll want to ensure that you keep an open line of communication with them and do your part to make this as easy as possible for them. 
  • They can act as patient liaisons for important tasks like scheduling. Seemingly simple tasks, like getting patients to confirm or commit to appointment times, can feel the most overwhelming. If your week is packed and you can’t seem to find time to reach out to patients you need to hear from, why not enlist the help of your admin team? Depending on your clinic’s protocol for scheduling, this could be a great way to ease your daily workload.
  • In order for all of the above to be possible, you should set the tone for communication early on. We suggest doing this in the following ways:
    • Answer emails and provide them with anything they request (i.e. credentialing requirements) ASAP. Remember: admins are the link between you and your clinic owner! Having a ‘paper trail’ is important if you ever encounter a miscommunication.
    • Give them plenty of notice when you need a favor. Your front desk staff is likely swamped, so it may be unreasonable to expect they can provide a quick turnaround.
    • Ask questions so as not to appear demanding. Everyone likes to feel they are being helpful. So presenting your needs as a question can be a great tool. For example, saying “I’m having trouble verifying this patient’s insurance. Would you be able to help me?” is better than “I need you to verify this patient’s insurance for me.” If you don’t know your admins on a personal level, this is all the more important. 
    • Use TheraPlan’s message center for quick communication about patient arrivals, rescheduled appointments, paperwork needs, and more. We believe in straightforward and simple communication so much that we built it into our EMR. Instead of having to send internal email for every little thing, you can stay inside our application and just shoot a message to a fellow user. They’ll get a notification no matter where they are working inside TheraPlan, or upon logging in the next time.

Every professional environment can benefit from conscientious communication, but especially a therapy clinic. Due to the nature of your work, it’s possible to go days without seeing your colleagues face-to-face or spending significant time with them. Being proactive using the above tips can help set a precedent for other therapists and show your admin team that you appreciate all they do to make your job possible. 

Think your peers could benefit from our advice? Share this post on Facebook.

 

therapy treatment documentation

Lose the Binder! How an EMR Can Save Therapists from a Paper Trail Nightmare

When it comes to therapy treatment documentation and medical records, we know how complicated things can feel. Not only do you have insurance and HIPAA regulations to follow, but you must consider the standards and procedures determined by your supervisor or clinic owner. This can become a heavy burden if you’re trying to manage without technology on your side. Paper records are time-consuming and cumbersome. Whether you are a speech, physical, occupational, behavioral, or Early Intervention provider, there are concrete benefits to adopting an EMR. Read on to find out what we see as the most compelling reasons to consider the big switch.  
  • Tracking everything is easier. If you’re accustomed to sifting through papers or scanned documents to review a patient’s visit history, electronic records will give you a fresh take on this process. A comprehensive EMR will show you previous daily progress notes, make goal creation easier, and incorporate scheduling features so that you can easily get a picture of any particular patient’s interaction with your practice. Imagine never having to flip through stacks of paper or call your admin team to unearth an authorization form or locate a patient’s contact info. This is possible when using an EMR!
  • Efficiency will be your middle name. As with many parts of modern life, the medical world is moving towards automation. Transferring your patients’ records to a technological platform is the first step in adopting this forward-thinking mindset and, in turn, becoming the most effective therapist possible. Efficiently documenting therapy treatments and evaluations through a convenient online platform will save you time and ease your stress.
  • Web-based medical records are with you wherever you go. Medical records software has advanced tremendously in recent years. Now, rather than being tethered to a desktop, therapists and clinic owners can be on the go and still get work done! A web-based EMR is the next generation of EMR software, and one of the best tools for making the administrative part of your job less of a burden.
  If you’re ready to leave the binder behind, explore how TheraPlan was built just for therapists and refer your clinic owner to our blog about the administrative advantages of using an EMR.
Therapy practice emr

The Top 3 Reasons Your Therapy Practice Needs an EMR

Have you been holding out with your office full of filing cabinets as many medical offices transition to EMR systems? If your therapists still have to complete documentation in their own way, and your office staff is overworked, adopting a therapy practice EMR may be the way to go. Below, we outline three reasons to consider the big transition from paper to electronic medical records.  
  • Your therapists will spend less time documenting. An overworked therapist is an inefficient, ineffective therapist! If you want your clinic to be known for providing the best quality care, it’s wise to do whatever you can to make sure therapists are fully dedicated when they are treating patients. One way to do this is to take away the burden of complicated documentation. Between assessments, plans of care, and SOAP notes, your therapists are required to do quite a bit of paperwork to get paid for an evaluation or treatment. With the right EMR, therapists can spend just a few minutes documenting each encounter with a patient because all necessary information is on hand, in one place. Instead of managing their own individual methods of writing daily progress notes and having to search for assessments, therapists simply refer to the EMR for all tasks and relevant information.
  • There will be less room for inaccuracies. Having your schedule, patient charts, authorizations, and other facets of documentation readily available simplifies all administrative and therapist duties. Should your practice ever go through an insurance audit, paper-based records can be a nightmare. EMRs standardize processes and records, which allows you to focus on growing your practice and providing the best quality medical care possible.
  • An EMR frees up your office staff. Your admins have so much on their plate already. Sifting through stacks of paper shouldn’t be one of their primary duties! Front office staff will thank you for saving them the hours of time they used to dedicate to searching for authorizations, finding CPT codes, and contacting community-based therapists. Get the most out of every dollar you pay your staff by transitioning to an EMR.
  While it can be an intimidating move, deciding to use a therapy practice EMR can revolutionize the way you run your practice. To find out more about what an EMR can do for you, read about TheraPlan’s features.