The pMD Blog

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pMD Blog...

where we cover interesting and relevant news, insights, events, and more related to the health care industry and pMD. Most importantly, this blog is a fun, engaging way to learn about developments in an ever-changing field that is heavily influenced by technology.


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Here's The Latest in Health Care:


In an effort to combat fraud, starting next month, providers that want to get Medicare payments for treating a patient with COVID-19 must include a positive test in that patient’s medical record. The test must be performed within 14 days of admission, and the results must be documented in the patient’s medical record. CMS has applied a 20% add-on Medicare payment for inpatient hospital COVID-19 patients, but without evidence of the positive test result, providers will not be eligible.  Read More

• COVID-19 hasn't just taken healthcare delivery virtual, it may also be changing the way doctors practice medicine, according to a recent survey. More than 60 percent of doctors surveyed said they value tools for remote monitoring their patients at home more than they did prior to the pandemic, with nearly one in five expecting that asking patients to self-administer their care may be a permanent change.  Read More

CMS is poised to eliminate most of the temporary codes created during the coronavirus pandemic to expand connected health. According to the proposed 2021 Physician Fee Schedule, CMS is planning to keep just nine codes added during the COVID-19 crisis, while adding an additional 13 new codes. But that means 74 codes are slated to end when the public health emergency is over.  Read More

HHS will distribute $1.4 billion in COVID-19 relief funds to children's hospitals around the country, with each hospital receiving 2.5 percent of their net revenue from patient care. The funding will ensure the 80 freestanding children's hospitals receive the financial relief they urgently need to offset revenue losses linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software.

 

Telehealth, or telemedicine, has existed for years, but with the emergence of COVID-19, the relationship between telehealth and the health care industry was transformed practically overnight. For most practices, COVID-19 catapulted telehealth from a long-term possibility to a complete and immediate necessity. According to AARP, demand for telehealth surged 1,000% by mid-April when compared to the time period before the emergence of the COVID-19 disease. This change came with a need for providers to train staff, evaluate software vendors, and devise new workflows to support telehealth. The patient side of the health care industry was equally disrupted, with individuals no longer able to continue their care in person. While some patients had experience with video conferencing through their employers or through FaceTiming family and friends, many were thrown into a new world of installing software, attaching webcams, creating accounts, and setting passwords.

Supporting patient adoption


At pMD, we have always been dedicated to easing the burden of learning or implementing new technology for both practices and patients. We have decades of experience working closely with practices to customize our software to meet their needs. The pMD team trains practice staff, provides 24/7 technical support, and implements our software in a way that best fits each practice’s existing workflow. The same approach is taken with patients using our software. We give them direct access to our knowledgeable employees who can help them work through even the hardest technical issues, we train them to use the software when needed, and we allow them to accomplish their telehealth encounter using the device and process that makes the most sense for them.

While pMD approaches helping practices and patients in a similar way, patients' needs differ in many ways. Individuals have a wide range of experience and comfort with technology. They use different software and hardware from many practices, sometimes using phones or computers that can be up to 15 years old, and they may be running software equally as out-of-date. If an individual encounters issues with software compatibility, they don’t have an IT department to contact in the same way many practices do. At pMD, we do our best to support every possible software and hardware configuration on laptops, desktops, phones, and tablets. We also integrate all options in a seamless manner, allowing for use of a web browser or a native app. 

The seamless patient experience


On the software engineering end, this involves addressing a complicated mix of all possible configurations with special attention paid to potential issues and workarounds. But, on the patient’s end, it simply looks like a functioning telehealth encounter that is as easy to use as clicking or tapping on a link or on a push-notification. The goal is to have the patient able to interact with telehealth in a manner that fits smoothly into their daily life. Patients can move easily from texting their children one moment to tapping on the text-message link telehealth visit the next. Users can pause their twitter use to tap a push-notification alerting them that their telehealth appointment is about to begin. Or, they can switch from emailing colleagues to starting their telehealth encounter by following a link sent to their inbox. And it all just works!  Nonetheless, if there are questions, as always, a friendly pMD employee is always ready and waiting to help with any issues that may arise. Want to learn more about pMD telehealth? Contact us! We'd love to hear from you.

To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.



Here's The Latest in Health Care:


Health care delivery tomorrow will look much different than today for a variety of reasons. Consumer expectations, the emergence of non-traditional players, and a move to value-based care are among the driving forces. Yet nearly all advancements ride on the backbone of technology and the ability to harness a massive quantity of data now being produced.  Read More

This week CMS announced a new payment model to provide up-front investments and capitated payments to healthcare organizations in rural areas. Through this new model, CMS aims to address disparities by providing a way for rural communities to transform their health care delivery systems by leveraging innovative financial arrangements as well as operational and regulatory flexibilities.  Read More

While many providers are starting to see their patient volume levels return to pre-pandemic levels, most physicians and advanced practice providers are still concerned about the effect COVID-19 will have on visits and care. Nearly three-quarters of health care providers in a recent survey are concerned that the rise in newly uninsured patients will continue to keep people away from routine visits and elective procedures.  Read More

Physicians and health policy experts say the pandemic is accelerating efforts to restructure primary care, which accounts for about half the nation’s doctor visits every year. The remedy being most widely promoted is to change the way doctors are reimbursed, away from the predominant system today, under which doctors are paid a fee for every service they provide.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software.


During this time, where there is so much focus on our physical health, it is essential to not forget about our mental health. With all the changes and challenges that we have to overcome with this pandemic, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. Social distancing can make this worse and make everyone feel more alone. 


Mental health has been seen as a taboo topic to discuss, but it is time to remove the stigma. An estimated 44 million adults in the U.S. are living with a mental illness and studies have shown that poor mental health negatively affects our physical health. In the past, behavioral health has been an afterthought, however, providers have started to address behavioral health to improve overall health. Health care agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have been working to integrate behavioral and physical health care services by making policies that focus on collaborative care and eliminate the gaps in care. We can also use technology to make behavioral and mental health treatments more accessible and integrated into our health care system. 

Typically, most patients will seek to visit a doctor if they are experiencing a cough or chest pains. Despite interest from patients, there are still barriers limiting patients from accessing mental health treatments. These barriers include a limited number of accessible mental health clinics, logistics of finding a mental health professional who is likely to accept their insurance, and social stigma. Also, patients in rural areas might avoid seeking mental health treatment for fear of being seen by another member of the community. These barriers make it difficult for patients to navigate their health care roadmap in search of the appropriate treatments. But what if telehealth could help? 

TECHNOLOGY AND MENTAL HEALTH 


Four out of five Americans own a smartphone, and there are over 20,000 apps on the market for mental health. Typically, smartphones are associated with creating more mental health issues, but we have the opportunity to turn smartphones into pocket therapists and mental health oases. COVID-19 has pushed telehealth into the limelight, and it looks like it is here to stay. Research has shown that 59% of patients are more likely to use telehealth services now than previously. Why is that?

Patients enjoy being able to visit with their doctor without the hassle of making the trip to the clinic or office. Telehealth has the opportunity to remove barriers for patients receiving treatments for their mental health, like giving patients more options for providers and making treatment more accessible for patients in more rural areas. Telehealth also gives patients access to a wide variety of treatments outside of traditional therapy. Patients who would feel uncomfortable starting therapy in person might be more open to seeing a therapist in the privacy of their own home. Telehealth therapy also reduces patient travel time and other logistical issues. The benefits of telehealth also extend to the providers themselves by reducing their practice's operating costs and overhead expenses.

pMD’S TELEHEALTH SOLUTION


pMD provides unparalleled customer support and strives to improve both patients’ and providers’ lives. pMD’s clinical communication and care navigation platforms can help connect patients to providers and ensure patients are being treated holistically. pMD can help customize a solution for your practice to better serve your patients’ telehealth needs.

To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.



Here's The Latest in Health Care:


Seniors have embraced technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, from booking virtual visits with their doctors to ordering their prescriptions online. In fact, telemedicine usage jumped 340 percent among Medicare-eligible seniors since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic according to a new survey. To top it all off, almost half of the seniors also admitted to binge-watching content and cheers-ing at virtual happy hours. Read More

It’s become clear that meeting the increasing demand for mental health services as a result of the pandemic will not be possible using traditional methods. Developments in teletherapy will undoubtedly open access to mental health treatments for more patients and could be the first phase of a broader revolution in psychiatry; one that allows care to become more preventative, reactive, and empathic to the needs of the population via technology.  Read More

While media coverage of the pandemic has focused on overwhelmed hospital workers on the front lines, less attention has been paid to some hospital emergency departments seeing far fewer patients as many avoid the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Hospital emergency department visits actually dropped by more than 40 percent during the first weeks of the pandemic.  Read More

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is extending the second phase application deadline to Friday, August 28 for general distribution to Medicaid, Medicaid managed care, Children's Health Insurance Program and dental providers. The department will distribute $15 billion from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund to providers that didn't receive funding in the first round.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software.

These days the promise of what “the cloud” can offer is ubiquitous across technology organizations: faster service, always-on systems, ready to support 100 customers or 100,000 in an instant! Who isn’t interested in those promises? Often for established companies like pMD though, with 20+ years under its belt, it can be tricky to decide where to begin using this magical tech.


Planning for the Cloud & The COVID Curveball


The cloud comes with its own set of challenges out of the gate, challenges that pMD had been considering and planning for long before 2020 arrived. Appropriate research and design work is essential to ensure the responsible use of cloud technology. There are cloud vendors to vet and agreements to sign to ensure data confidentiality and HIPAA-compliance. And once all the initial legwork is done, there’s the technical feat of migrating our well-established traditional processes and computer systems to a new cloud-friendly approach - all while ensuring we don’t create any hiccups for our customers along the way.


But 2020 had different plans for us all, and after doing all the necessary prep work to begin using Amazon’s cloud, we found ourselves needing to cash in on some of those cloud promises - speed, scalability, and reliability - much earlier than expected. It was clear we needed to adjust our strategy to keep pace with the rapidly growing needs of telehealth capabilities across the country and to continue supporting providers who needed solid systems they could rely on. So we did what any good customer-obsessed company would do: we tossed our cloud roadmap and redrew it based on immediate customer needs.


The Proving Ground: Getting Big Benefits from Amazon’s “S3”


Along with a boom in telehealth demand came the need for more boundary-pushing remote communications. Seemingly overnight there were more people using pMD video and voice chat for virtual visits with physicians. There were more patients contacting practices and communicating with health care providers directly over secure messaging. And there were more important pictures and documents being uploaded, downloaded, and sent between providers, patients, and families than ever before - an activity that produces large amounts of data traffic behind the scenes. By monitoring that data flowing on our systems, it became evident we could serve our customers better by moving the piece of pMD responsible for attachments and files to Amazon’s cloud.


With some careful planning and a little elbow grease, we were able to successfully migrate this small piece of pMD to Amazon’s S3 service, the same technology that helps power companies like Siemens, GE Healthcare, and 3M. Almost immediately we saw a huge benefit to everyone using pMD. Patients and providers were able to access their pictures and documents in secure chat and patient profiles faster. Files could now be accessed more reliably and consistently with fewer annoying glitches, and we were able to offer stronger-than-ever protection against accidental data loss. Thanks to our HIPAA-compliance agreement with Amazon and industry-standard encryption, it was no hassle to continue keeping sensitive data secure, just as we always have.


A Partly Cloudy Forecast


While we’ve only just begun to leverage the promises of what the cloud can offer, we have continued to let data inform where we need “cloud-scale” next in pMD’s evolution. This way we can ensure an ever-growing, more reliable product for our providers, health care teams, and their patients. Best of all, Amazon’s world-class security and HIPAA-compliance means we easily maintain our high standards when it comes to data protection, auditing, and compliance, allowing us to focus on speed, security, service availability, and continuing to deliver what matters most to our customers and their patients: a partner they can rely on in health care.


To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.



Here's The Latest in Health Care:


As the COVID-19 pandemic isolates patients, virtual care has proven to be a lifeline for patients who need behavioral health services. In fact, at the Department of Veterans Affairs, providers have conducted 1.1 million virtual mental health visits with more than 350,000 veterans this year. The continued use of virtual services could help open up access to behavioral health treatment for millions of patients, leading to a potential breakthrough in overall outcomes and medical spending.  Read More

CMS will begin recouping accelerated Medicare loans it sent as COVID-19 relief as early as Monday, which could exacerbate the financial stress on hospitals and doctor's offices as the pandemic worsens. Despite pleading for loan forgiveness or relaxed repayment terms, providers that received loans won't receive Medicare reimbursement from their claims until the amount of the loan they received is reduced to zero.  Read More

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly increased demand for home-based medical care. Particularly for patients who are older and frail, this model of care has provided a viable alternative to urgent care centers and emergency rooms to reduce the risk of infection. Like telemedicine, the shift to more home-based medical care has been accelerated due to COVID-19 and is anticipated to continue to grow long after the pandemic.  Read More

COVID-19 has placed unprecedented stress upon the health care system, but we may not see the most significant impacts for a couple of years. Analyses predict a gap in Medicare revenues during the next three years of close to $150 billion. Also, expected reductions in state tax revenue will make sustaining current Medicaid program funding increasingly tricky. The pandemic has created a perfect storm to alter our system for financing health care long-term.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software.

We can all agree that 2020 has been a unique year for all of us. As things change and shift, many things do still remain the same, including MIPS reporting! We’ve made it to the halfway point of the year, trying to figure out the new normal and what business-as-usual looks like, which may leave you with a fuzzy memory that quality reporting may still need to be completed this year.  

As a qualified MIPS registry, pMD has been keeping an eye on the changes and requirements for reporting in 2020. We continue to offer our customers the tools to submit their 2020 MIPS data to CMS and navigate some of these changes using our robust dashboard and excellent account management.

The Elephant in the Room


Do you have to submit MIPS this year in the midst of a pandemic? Maybe.

Other quality programs have previously released amendments to decrease the amount of data submitted to ease the reporting burden during the first and second quarter of this year. However, for MIPS 2020, eligible providers submitting any of the categories (Quality, Improvement Activities, Promoting Interoperability, and Cost) still have the full year’s worth of reporting on the table and there are no changes to the measure requirements. 

The QPP did include a new Improvement Activity to give credit to organizations that participate in COVID-19 clinical trials and offered a complete solution to that performance category:

“Clinicians could also pair the new COVID-19 clinical trials activity with the existing Participation in a 60-day or greater effort to support domestic or international humanitarian needs (IA_ERP_2) activity for full credit for the Improvement Activities performance category.”

For practices affected by the pandemic, you can apply for an exemption to re-weight Quality, Cost, Improvement Activities, and/or Promoting Interoperability performance categories to 0%. You can find the application and additional information here. CMS will provide the determination of your application via email to the email address you list on your application. 

Changes to Scoring


MIPS Year 4 is turning up the heat for additional data and higher scores.  We are met with increased data reporting requirements in two categories and a 50% increase in final score to avoid a negative payment adjustment.

1) Quality measures must meet 70% of data completeness this year. 
2) Improvement Activities must apply to 50% or more physicians within a group to attest.
3) The performance threshold has been raised to 45 points to avoid a penalty and 85 points to get an exceptional performance bonus.  

Changes to Payment Adjustments


Speaking of payment adjustments, the maximum penalties have been increased again this year.  Clinicians who fail to sufficiently report MIPS are subject to a penalty of up to -9% payment adjustment on Medicare Part B FFS payments. Since the MIPS and MACRA programs have budget neutrality requirements, the rates for positive payment adjustments depend on national submission performance and will be scaled and distributed appropriately. Essentially, the money CMS can pay out to Medicare Part B FFS claim bonuses depends on the number of clinicians who do not submit or perform poorly.


A full list of changes to the Year 4 Final Rule and the most up-to-date information can be found on the QPP website

We are accepting new practices to report MIPS with us in 2021, feel free to take a look at what we offer for MIPS reporting here or give us a call at 800-587-4989 x2. We’d love to hear from you!

To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.

If you were to get engaged, you can imagine you would want to call your closest friends and family first, right? Would you also want to tell one of the accounts you manage? I did! That might seem crazy, but I like to think that this is what makes pMD unique. Our entire team prioritizes partnering with our customers and developing strong business relationships. If you are lucky, sometimes, these business relationships also become friendships. 

The importance of account management


At pMD, each employee is an account manager. That means, we equally share the responsibility, on top of our departmental focuses, of working closely with our customers. Why do we do this? We do this to learn how to improve our product, stay ahead of the curve, make our customers happy, and change health care. We are in contact with our groups constantly, and not to sell them products and services, but to stay on top of what's changing in their world and in ours. We hope to connect with our users and create a relationship. When practices think of pMD, they do not just think of the purple app on their iPhone; they remember the pMD employees who ask, “how can we help?” Like many professional relationships, the closer you are, the better equipped you are to come up with creative solutions and strategies for success. 

One of my favorite memories at pMD was a pizza party financed by a customer of ours who wanted to say thank you for our assistance with satisfying his MIPS (Merit-based Incentive Payment System) annual requirement. MIPS can oftentimes cause a lot of extra strain for smaller practices; he shared that we alleviated these stresses, and in return, he wanted to treat us to a pizza party. During this lunch, our team ate together and shared stories about various customer relationships, and what they have each taught us over the years. 

A little goes a long way


In addition to my account manager responsibilities, my current title is Sr. Account Executive. I work with practices in a consultative way to evaluate our product and implement a new process that will improve their workflow and ultimately create ROI. Something unique about our pricing model is that our pricing is transparent and standardized across the country. In my four years here, we have not increased our price for our charge capture product. Why is this important? It means that, even with enhancements and new features, our customers can implement these free-of-charge. When you sign up for pMD, we are agreeing to be your partner today and moving forward. That's why it’s important for us to connect with our current customer base in order to understand their needs. 

In the current climate, we know our customers are facing some of the biggest challenges yet.  I've seen practices implement new processes in 1-2 days, where previously changes like this would take anywhere from 6-12 months. Our customers are pivoting quickly and need a partner who is dedicated to making sure those needs are met promptly. I feel proud to work at pMD where all of the employees value our customer relationships. It is very rewarding to help solve workflow kinks, provide 24/7 customer support, or simply be an ear to customers who need a partner (or friend) in a time where they are under an immense amount of pressure. 

We want to hear from you! What can we do to support your patients and practice?

To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.

Source: Getty Images

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


While physicians are utilizing telehealth to treat their patients during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, many still have outstanding questions about how to accurately code and document those visits. Health care business consultant Elizabeth W. Woodcock, MBA, FACMPE, an expert on coding and documentation, breaks down the answers.  Read More

As coronavirus numbers in the United States are exponentially increasing, health care leaders are extremely concerned about how this will play out in the coming months. With potential problems in the PPE supply chain, the upcoming flu-season, and a viable vaccine yet to be finalized, health care systems and providers are bracing for a tough battle ahead.  Read More

HHS will be sending an additional $4 billion in funding to hospitals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the bulk of the funds will go to safety-net hospitals, HHS is expanding the criterion for payment for the next disbursement. In addition, more than $1 billion of the new funds will go to rural hospitals and other health care providers in small metropolitan areas.  Read More

An operating room isn't exactly the easiest place to follow social distancing guidelines in the age of COVID-19. Using 5G network technology, doctors in Italy recently demonstrated that telesurgery could now be a valuable and reliable tool in allowing surgeons to do just that. Surgeons performed surgery on a cadaver's vocal cords from nearly 10 miles away over a wireless 5G network.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software.