The opinions expressed in this Blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, and/or philosophy of CureMD
‘Tis that time of year again when we Americans shout from the rooftops, or at least the dinner table, all of the things we are thankful for. As a family physician who has been practicing medicine for almost 20 years and has witnessed firsthand the dramatic changes occurring in the healthcare industry, I thought I would take some time and digital space to share with all of you the things that have gone on in my practice this year that I am so gosh-darn thankful for.
Ready? Here goes…
Ah, the ICD-10 Implementation
One of the biggest things I am grateful for is the financial and administrative burden my staff and I experienced this year with the ICD-10 transition. Forget Thanksgiving, I feel like Christmas came early and left a large mound of headaches under my tree.
As a smaller and independent practice, I felt and continue to feel the sting of productivity loss and reimbursement disruptions. Yes, I can truly say I am grateful for the lasting adverse impact the ICD-10 transition has had on my every day practice and revenue flow.
I know I speak for my staff members as well when I say we have all felt tremendously blessed at the extra time it has taken us to learn all of the new codes, so many many new codes, and have felt privileged to have had our reimbursements take such a big hit.
The second thing I am really grateful for this year has got to be the almost-constant threats of a HIPAA audit and the hours of sleep I have lost at the thought of being hit with thousands of dollars in fines I can’t afford if I am found “guilty.”
Meaningful Use 2
I can scarcely create this list of things to be thankful for without adding the MU2 penalties I got hit with this year for not being compliant. Hey, I’d like to be as compliant as the next doctor, but CMS sure doesn’t make it easy on us changing their rules all of the gosh darn time.
I don’t mind telling you it’s kind of hard to hand over even more money to update my EHR because my old vendor wasn’t certified.
But I am grateful for this penalty because it is a reminder that there is always room for improvement, right?
Good Luck Getting Paid
I toyed with putting this one top of my list, because who doesn’t love not getting paid? I and my staff are so grateful to have felt the constant pressure of being reimbursed for services thanks to the impact of the Affordable Care Act and the shift from the fee-for-service model to value-based payment models.
It was also great that so many of the private insurers I deal with have also adopted these payment models this year. This has made me have to completely immerse myself in every minute little detail so I can submit a “clean” claim.
Gosh, the amount of claims that have been denied by these insurance companies for the tiniest little discrepancy has been tremendous. Like there was that one time a claim came back because the patient’s name was hyphenated on their ID, so we hyphenated their name on the claim, but the insurance company did not have their last name hyphenated and so it did not match and the insurance company denied it. Oh, we laughed so hard at that one.
If you could see the big smile on my face right now as I let myself feel all of the gratefulness inside of me.
Mounting Paperwork? Yes, Please!
I know what I want for Christmas – more paperwork! And you know what? I know I’m going to get exactly what I want and that makes me so happy and grateful. The thing I like best about all of this additional paperwork that has resulted from constant government mandates and healthcare changes (thanks prior authorizations!) is that it keeps me from doing what I love the most – which is caring for my patients. I am so grateful for this because I no longer feel job satisfaction, and that will make it extremely easy for me to retire in another 10 or so years.
Rising Operational Costs are Cool
I’d like to end on the thing I am most grateful for, and that is that today I can stand here before you, figuratively speaking, and tell you my practice is doing worse than it was just a year ago. This stems from a combination of the revenue hits I’ve already mentioned and the rising costs of running my practice.
Not only have I had to deal with increased rent and rates for malpractice insurance, I’ve also been hit with higher health insurance costs for my own staff. Also, it’s been hard to keep my employees and not lose them to hospitals who can afford to pay higher wages. In order to hold onto a couple of staff members, I’ve had to pay top dollar, which has been ridiculously hard at times because my own revenue has dipped.
Between the constant increases in overhead costs combined with the constant technology updates I am forced to make combined with the increased claims denials and penalties I have been hit with, it is a miracle I can even stay in business. But I am grateful for the anxiety I feel on a weekly basis because I have finally lost those extra ten pounds I have been struggling with.
A happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.