Practice Management

Introduction It should not be surprising that when hospital executives and personnel sit down to discuss issues and problems around population health, accountable care organization (ACO) integration, network development, cost containment, new product lines, hospital readmission rates, care coordination, and related topics they often arrive at hospital-centric and hospital-based solutions to solve them.1 As hospitals and hospital networks look to urgent care centers to address some of these issues through hospital/urgent care affiliations, joint ventures, hospital-owned urgent cares, and other models, the basic relationship between these partners can have someRead More

Posted On March 27, 2017 By In Health Law

Who Owns Patient Medical Records?

Urgent message: While historically there has been an understanding that patients own the information contained in their medical records, and that providers own the record itself, the current lack of a federal law governing the ownership of medical records poses a conundrum when those records are stored electronically. New challenges demand innovative solutions—often in the form of new technologies that make life easier. Certainly technology has advanced healthcare to improve and lengthen our lives. Yet, perhaps more noticeable in the medical realm than in other fields, we see the clashRead More
Medical assistants (MAs) are the core of urgent care’s clinical support workforce (as noted in Cost Effective Staffing with Medical Assistants in the January, 2017 edition of JUCM; see http://www.jucm.com/cost-effective-staffing-medical-assistants/). However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for MAs is expected to outstrip supply over the next decade, just as the aging baby-boom population will increase demand for physician services—especially in the primary care setting, where the bulk of MAs work. For urgent care operators, a 23% increase in demand for MAs (compared with 7% for all otherRead More

Posted On March 27, 2017 By In Coding Q&A

Coding for Critical Care Services

Q: Can we bill for critical care services when spending extra time with patients who are very ill? A: It is rare that you would perform billable critical care services in the urgent care setting. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the American Medical Association (AMA), critical care is defined as the direct delivery by a physician(s) of medical care for a critically ill or critically injured patient. A critical illness or injury acutely impairs one or more vital organ systems such that there isRead More

Posted On March 16, 2017 By In Developing Data

How Patients Pay Their Bills

Of the survey participants, most (78%) manage billing with in-house staff, while the rest contract for their billing services or use other methods. Such billing efforts cost an average amount of $215.91 per patient—about $3,336,967 per site and $8,876,333 per urgent care center. Small wonder, then, that 14% of respondents cannot yet call their business “profitable.”Read More
Over two-thirds of urgent care centers offer a blend of occupational medicine services (generally defined as treatment of workers compensation injuries, conducting physicals for compliance or fitness for duty, and substance abuse testing), according to the Urgent Care Association of America.1 One challenge for those that do is that the overall incidence of workplace injuries has declined significantly this century, due to an overall shift from a manufacturing to a service and information economy, the offshoring/outsourcing of U.S. manufacturing jobs, and employer investments in safety, prevention, and automation. Simply put,Read More
Urgent message: Failure to identify risks in a new hire’s background can result in “negligent hiring” liability for an urgent care operator, but there are also limitations in what information a center can seek on an applicant. The approximately 7,100 urgent care centers in the United States employ physicians, NPs, PAs, RNs, medical assistants, technicians, and receptionists who provide walk-in patients with medical care for minor health conditions without an appointment. Most urgent care centers around the country are owned by physician‒entrepreneurs. While many larger corporate and hospital-affiliated urgent careRead More
Urgent message: A chain of command exists in most organizations to assure efficient and accurate communication, orderly and organized business operations, and proper allocation of time and resources. When the chain of command is broken, however, the entire business can suffer.  In American business culture, organizations are typically built in a hierarchal structure and follow an established chain of command. To ensure smooth and efficient operations, employees are generally expected to communicate work issues to the supervisor directly above them in the hierarchy for direction and resolution. Conversely, high-level managers,Read More