HIPAA is an acronym that most clinicians are familiar with, but there is another term that every clinician should familiarize themselves with as they consider taking patient data into the digital age-HITECH. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), was signed into law on February 17, 2009, to encourage the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology. An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is the most common form of health information technology implemented by behavioral health care providers. When considering adopting an EMR it’s very important to consider the security of your data. Below are a few tips to maintaining the security of your patient data when using an EMR to comply with the enhanced security recommendations set forth in the HITECH act.
Fee agreements for your behavioral health care practice are critical because it helps manage client expectations, gives protection for providers, and saves time in the long run.
Customers will often ask me, “Why can’t I just use Quickbooks for tracking patient balances?” Well, the answer to that question highlights the key distinction any practice should understand between Quickbooks and a Practice Management Solution (an EMR or EHR):Quickbooks is an application that will give you the tools to better understand your practice at a Macro Level, and an EMR or EHR will provide you with tools to better understand your practice at a Micro Level.
There are some obvious thoughts about what it means to stay on top of your practice’s accounts receivable. At a very high level, this means having an understanding of revenue cycle management. The question is, how can you apply that concept to the effective administration of a psychiatric or behavioral healthcare practice?
As an undergraduate, I volunteered at a mental health clinic to gain experience in the realm of psychology. In that setting, I quickly became immersed into the world of insurance and mental health benefits. Every day, as the clinic collected copies of insurance cards, I needed to call and check on patient benefits to make sure they had coverage for behavioral health services. I would call various insurance companies and verify their outpatient mental health benefits. What I learned from calling the insurance companies and about insurance billing was that you need to ask some pretty specific questions in order to make sure that patient encounters are accurately and efficiently processed.
Hundreds of new psychiatric private practices are started each year, yet I repeatedly hear from graduating psychiatry residents and psychiatric private practice colleagues that they have not had adequate preparation in the business of running a private practice. Off the shelf business plan templates were helpful, but did not quite hit the mark for me when I started my practice in 2002. So, I modified them over time to come up with a system that worked well for me and am sharing it here.
So you’re in charge of your own psychiatric clinic and have purchased a brand new practice management system to help run the day to day. You’ve decided to handle of the billing yourself because hey, how hard could it be? Anyone can bill insurance; it can’t be that hard, right?
The decision to contract with commercial insurance companies or remain strictly fee-for-service with your patients is one that will have an enormous impact on your administrative flow and needs within your practice. There are pros and cons to contracting, and we’ll take a look at both sides in this discussion.
In our overview of best billing practices for mental health providers, we mentioned that obtaining outpatient mental health benefit information prior to your patient’s first visit is one step you can take to make sure your office is operating as efficiently as possible – in this follow-up, I’m going to make the case that this is actually one of the most important steps you can take in promoting maximum efficiency in your office administration.
Understanding the behavioral health billing process can be a daunting task. We have created the following guide as a best practices framework for psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. While this may go without saying, we will say it anyway: first and foremost, be knowledgeable of your state's laws and regulations regarding medical billing. Now, for the good stuff...