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Archive for September, 2011

Upcoming Changes to Medical Billing

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Starting in October of 2013 there is going to be significant changes to the way medical-billing takes place in the United States. The new federally mandated system will require doctors to use a bank of more than 140,000 alphanumeric codes to describe medical services and injuries sent on bills to health insurance providers. Below is a description of the way things can be expected to change for health care delivery according to Dan Feinberg, the director of the health informatics program at Northeastern University.

The new system will not fundamentally change the way that data is collected by doctors and nurses. Instead it changes the way that data is recorded within information systems. By using codes for specific medical conditions and circumstances computers will be able to find patterns within the data. Dan Feinberg says, “We will be much better at detecting outbreaks, and we will be much better at identifying how to keep people healthy… finer data in ICD-10 will allow us to identify patients with problems and pair them with nurses who can address them.”

The ICD-10, or International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, is a coding system developed by the World Health Organization. Its use in medical billing practices will allow the detection of health trends and increase the potential of preventative care. Standardized medical information is paramount for successfully sharing information about conditions and diseases throughout the health care system. Many other countries in the world already use the ICD-10 in their health care.

New Information about Private Medical Insurance

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Valuable information about spiraling medical costs throughout the past few decades has been limited. This is partly due to the lack of data available. Statistics for Medicare and Medicaid have been widely available for study while data on private insurers has been anything but transparent. With such a large segment of the health economy in the United States being mostly hidden, it has been difficult to analyze trends and determine the cause of rampantly rising medical costs.

Recently a not-for-profit group in Washington D.C. called The Health Care Cost Institute was launched. The group will be responsible for analyzing large amounts of private insurance data from some of the largest health insurance companies in the United States such as Aetna, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and United Healthcare. The group will release trend reports twice a year that should shed valuable information about rising medical costs.

Research from available data so far has suggested several possible culprits for rising costs. One of them is that the health system is poorly organized and fragmented. Current financial incentives also goad hospitals and doctors to do more medical procedures and tests in order to earn more money. Disclosure of private insurance data will do a lot to disclose how influential these causes actually are to rising medical costs.

Safeguarding Patient Information

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Keeping patient information confidential is one of the most important issues concerning both patients and their medical providers. The reason for this is clear. Public exposure of private health information can lead to a lot of hardship for patients. These hardships can include identity theft, fraud and embarrassment. Medical providers never intend for private information about their patients get out, but large data leaks of private patient information remains a large problem for medical providers throughout the United States.

There are several different reasons why private patient information is so vulnerable to leaks. Medical offices and companies tend to be behind the times when it comes to computer security and technology. This can leave them open to simple computer attacks. Without integrated systems in medical-organizations there tends to be a lot of duplicate files, which create ripe opportunities for thieves to steal data. Defragmenting data and technology in medical offices and organizations is essential for keeping patient information private.

Eric Johnson from the Wall Street Journal suggests several approaches to solving the problem. Security managers should take close inventory of data throughout an organization in order to determine vulnerabilities and best practices for securing data. Access restrictions should be implemented as not everyone in a health company would need to see all available data about patients. Most of all, data technology should be easy to use for doctors in order to encourage use of information systems that emphasize security.

Benefits of a Medical Billing Service

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Your average medical office is a busy place with a constant inflow of patients whose medical needs are of the upmost importance. The primary concern for employees in the office including doctors, nurses and assistants is the health and well being of the patients. While the collection of money into an office is essential for maintaining care, taking up the valuable time of medical office workers to chase patients and insurance companies is not an efficient use of time and resources.

Efficiencies gained through using a third party medical billing service can be drastic. These gains come from the ability of medical billing services like Integrated Medical Management to collect more money than is normally possible from traditional medical offices. They are able to do this because of their extensive knowledge and techniques along with state of the art billing and practice management software.

Health insurance companies in particular can be difficult to collect from due to complicated policies and claims adjusters looking to deny payments whenever possible. Harnessing the deep knowledge of medical bill collectors means getting paid more often so that expenses like payroll and equipment costs can be met. Otherwise inefficient medical offices will be able to increase revenue and therefore increase the quality of their patient care.

Medical Billing and the HIPAA

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

In 1996 the U.S. Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The purpose of this act was to address security and privacy concerns of health care data. The standards implemented in the law are meant to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire health care system in the United States. It does this by encouraging the widespread use of electronic data interchange. Title II of the act, otherwise known as the Administrative Simplification provisions, requires there to be national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans and employers.

Integrated Medical Management is in full compliance with the HIPAA. What this means for patients and doctors is full confidentiality in their records, which is an essential component for the safety and wellbeing of all patients within a given medical organization. Complying with this act means that patients won’t be exposed to identity theft, medical fraud and various other maladies that come from the leakage of their private medical data.

The HIPAA did not only affect medical billing services and insurance companies. Software companies and medical offices initially spent thousands of dollars in order to update their systems to the standards of the HIPAA. Thankfully, medical offices that use a medical billing service will be in automatic compliance with the HIPAA. They will also drastically reduce the burden on employees in the office and increase efficiencies across the board.