Marketing campaigns only matter if they work, and you won’t know that unless you track the data. Here are key marketing metrics your PT practice should be measuring.
A lot of small business owners approach their marketing efforts with a great deal of hesitation. Their biggest concerns? Time and money. You may have some brilliant marketing ideas—and hopefully, a marketing plan—for your PT, OT, or SLP private practice, but it’s hard to bring them to fruition when you’re unsure about means and resources.
As the healthcare landscape evolves, smart practice owners and department managers will evolve, too—ahead of the curve. As part of their evolution, some therapists are incorporating wellness services into their business models. “Wellness” is a buzzword in physical therapy circles right now. But what does the term actually mean? And how can we use wellness services to better help our clients and ensure our clinics thrive?
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) defines wellness as:“a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of wellbeing.” Furthermore, the APTA believes that “physical therapists are uniquely qualified to assume leadership positions in efforts to prevent injury and disability, and fully supports the positive roles that physical therapists and physical therapist assistants play in the promotion of healthy lifestyles, wellness, and injury prevention.” And that goes for physical therapists in all 50 states, whether or not the state practice act contains specific language surrounding wellness. For more information on the APTA’s policies regarding physical fitness, wellness, and health as well as the association’s position on advocacy for physical education, physical conditioning, and wellness, click here.
The Legal Stuff
However, it is always advisable to contact your state board and review your professional liability insurance (PLI) policy—perhaps with an attorney—before introducing a new wellness program. Your PLI may not cover all of your risk because most policies only apply to medical incidents that arise from performing professional services that fall within your state practice act. You can find more information on protecting yourself and your business here.
Wellness and Medicare
Offering wellness services can be a great way to teach and interact with the Medicare community—even if you don’t contract with Medicare insurance. Because physical therapy-related wellness services are not a Medicare-covered service, you can enter into a private pay arrangement with patients to provide yoga, Pilates, or strength training classes, which can improve core strength, flexibility, and general wellbeing. (Some wellness services—such as a yearly physical with a physician—are covered services, but most fitness training services are not).
Your Wellness Program
You can design your wellness program in a way that makes sense for your clinic. One option is to offer wellness services as a continuation of care for patients whom you’ve discharged from formal physical therapy. This is a nice way to transition your existing patients who want to continue to develop strength and endurance but who don’t feel comfortable attending a commercial gym. These patients are already familiar with your clinic and staff and are often happy to make the switch to being cash-paying customers. Another option is to market your wellness services—private or small group yoga, Pilates, mobility training, or performance classes—to the general public as a way to bring new clients into your practice.
If someone on your staff is already a certified yoga or Pilates instructor, you can ask him or her to lead group or one-on-one classes. If not, that’s okay. Some clinics bring in teachers to offer classes or private sessions. Either way, just make sure you choose someone with the appropriate certifications and experience working with post-rehab clients. You should feel confident that your clients are receiving the best possible instruction so they’re safely progressing toward their fitness goals.
When setting your prices for wellness services, you will need to do some homework; see what gyms, personal trainers, and yoga/Pilates instructors are charging in your area. This will give you a feel for what the market rate is for cash-based services in your community. For your own rates, I would suggest going slightly higher in price. We want to communicate the value of our services based on our advanced education and training. By setting our price point slightly higher than market value, we send the message that we are providing a unique service—one that our clients can’t receive anywhere else.
I agree with the APTA’s assessment that physical therapists are uniquely qualified to provide wellness services, specifically a safe progression of exercises to assist clients in reaching their goals. This is one way in which we can help transform society by improving the human experience—all while diversifying our offerings and thus, evolving ahead of the curve.
Does your clinic provide wellness services? If so, what services? If not, would you like to? What questions do you have about getting started? Let me know in the comments section below.
As a clinic director or owner, you know that strategic hiring plays a key role in the success of your practice. But are you applying this knowledge to your front office staff hires? According to Monster.com, “failure to devote time and resources to your small business hiring strategy for non-clinical positions is a common mistake for even the most talented of clinicians in private practice.” And this common mistake can adversely affect your business—not only in terms of patient satisfaction, but also in terms of your bottom line. After all, “communication breakdowns between the front office and clinicians can result in a malpractice claim. And a single HIPAA violation can bring a fine of up to $50,000,” Monster continues.
Here are six business-benefiting qualities to look for in a front office candidate:
Biller at Heart
Front office employees typically answer phones, complete patient intakes, and book appointments, but that’s only the tip of the front office iceberg. Billing starts in the front office, and mistakes could negatively affect your reimbursements—or worse, decrease your chances of getting paid at all. Your front office team should verify each patient’s insurance and benefits before you begin treatment.
Now, you may already have aids or billers verifying insurance. Well, stop. Aids should be helping you treat and billers should be chasing A/R (i.e., getting you paid). Also, it’s a waste of their wages to have them verifying benefits. Perhaps you pay a third-party to validate insurance. Stop that as well. It’s too costly and time-consuming, and any front office staffer worth his or her salt should be able to complete this task in a timely and efficient manner.
According to Today’s Practice’s “7 Key Elements of Growing a Successful Office Staff,” your front office staff “should not be afraid to collect copays or self-pay payments. Copays and the self-pay population are on the rise. It is the patient’s responsibility to pay and it’s the front desk staff’s responsibility to enforce this.” Sounds like a lot of pressure—and it is. So make sure you’re hiring someone who is perfectly comfortable asking for money owed.
An Om Blog article recommends documenting every single thing your front office staff does. (Don’t forget to add insurance verification and payment collection.) When you get it all on paper, you’ll realize it’s a pretty substantial list of responsibilities. Lots of people include “ability to multi-task” on their job applications. For this position, you want to make sure the candidate truly lives up to that qualification.
Hip to Your Software
When I first entered my field, everyone wanted to make sure I knew Microsoft Office backwards and forwards. Now, they want to make sure I know how to use web-based blogging platforms. Times change, but the desire to hire people who know their industry’s software doesn’t. As Today’s Practice explains, hiring someone with knowledge of your practice management and/ordocumentation software will enable you to “spend less time and money on training. In addition, the transition will be smoother for this person and the existing office staff.”
We’re already seeing therapists and front office staff alike listing WebPT on their resumes and LinkedIn profiles, so why not look for such qualifications during your hiring process? To be safe, list the software your practice uses on the position description.Today’s Practice also recommends quizzing potential candidates or new hires to determine their degree of experience with a particular program.
Speaking of position descriptions, put a lot of time and thought into your job listings. As Monster explains, “when the pressure is on to open the doors to your new practice or replace a soon-to-depart receptionist or scheduler, you’ll be tempted to rush.” In the article, Brian Nylaan, DDS, who has a solo practice in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said: “‘I didn’t always do my homework in terms of talking with the candidate and having the whole team do so, because I just wanted to end the stress of having a position vacant.’” Don’t go that route. You have good reasons (like everything listed above and then some) to avoid the need-a-warm-body temptation and hire the right candidate. That starts with crafting an honest, detailed, well-written job announcement.
Ever since the federal government got the ball rolling on healthcare reform legislation—a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act—it’s been a hot topic of conversation among providers and consumers alike. For the last few years, discussions about the effects of the new healthcare law were purely speculative; but now that the ACA go-live date has come and gone, a clearer picture of its impact—particularly in the realm of outpatient physical therapy—is starting to emerge. Here’s a breakdown of how the new healthcare law is affecting therapists:
As sports rehabilitator Heidi Dawson writes in this article: “No-shows [are] the bane of a therapist’s existence.” We’re inclined to agree. You’ve got your schedule precisely booked—often down to the minute—and a no-show or late cancellation can turn your well-balanced plan for the day into a disheveled mess of frantic “are-you-still-coming?” phone calls followed by thumb-twiddling boredom. Oh, and then there’s the lost time and revenue to consider. Despite how frustrating no-shows can be, though, all hope is not lost. There are several things you can do to tackle the no-show problem and increase the odds that your patients will show for their appointments. Here are five:
1. Set a Policy
Dawson writes that “time is money,” and that’s especially accurate for therapists because you don’t make money without treating patients. To take that several steps further, if you don’t make enough money, you won’t stay in business, which means you won’t be able to continue serving your community. And that’s a huge piece of the puzzle patients often overlook when choosing not to make their appointments a priority. So create a policy that outlines specific rules for scheduling and canceling and present it as part of your initial consultation forms along with a sentence or two about the impact of missed appointments. It’s not enough to just set rules. Instead, make sure your patients understand the reasoning behind your policy and you’ll immediately increase their compliance. (Hint: avoid language that is critical, dramatic, or punitive. Rather, be polite and appeal to your patients’ empathetic sides. Most will understand and respect you more for your honesty.)
So what kind of rules should you set? That’s totally up to you. Some therapists opt for a 24-hour cancellation notice requirement; otherwise, they charge for the full appointment amount. However, most also understand that there might be mitigating circumstances that warrant a penalty waiver. Other therapists request a pre-payment or deposit from patients as soon as they book appointments, but as Dawson point out, this might make your patients feel like you don’t trust them, which could potentially drive away business. Still other therapists keep patient credit card details on file, although you can only do this if you have record of a pre-authorization agreement with the bank or patient demographic query (PDQ) supplier (a similar arrangement to that of a hotel that places a hold on a consumer’s funds until the stay is complete, at which time they charge the card.) Otherwise, keeping card details on file is a bad—and possibly illegal—idea.
Regardless of what policy you choose, just make sure you clearly communicate to patients what you expect of them before they begin therapy. That way, there are no surprises when you go to enforce your policy.
2. Identify Trends
If you’re not already tracking your no-shows and cancellations, start doing so now. You may come across some interesting demographic and logistical trends that can help you predict the likelihood of patient attendance at a given appointment time.University of Missouri faculty Howard Houghton, MD, and Patricia Alafaireet used electronic medical record and billing system data to identify missed medical visit characteristics. They found:
- Medicaid recipients had a higher rate of no-shows than any other insurance beneficiary type. Additionally, Medicaid patients who had appointment times outside of the public transportation schedule never showed.
- Patients who lived five to 10 miles away from the practice were most likely to make their appointments, whereas patients who lived 19 to 60 miles away were more likely not to show. Patients who lived more than 60 miles away almost always made their appointments.
- Young, single men had the highest no-show rates. However, attendance was better for mid-morning appointments on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
While quite interesting, Alafaireet says, “We really do think [the findings are] probably practice-specific.” She recommends starting a simple Excel spreadsheet. “You want to look for the factors that can be controlled,” Dr. Houghton advises. Then, once you’ve identified some common missed appointment trends, start implementing ways to change them.
3. Schedule Better
The University of Missouri study found something else interesting: Patients were more likely to show up for an appointment at a time of their choosing. According to the article, many traditional schedulers “followed practice protocol” by “scheduling the first caller for Monday at 8:00 AM, the second for Monday at 8:30,” and so on. Dr. Houghton and Alafaireet found that the most successful schedulers asked patients on what date and at what time they wanted to come in—an easy change that could significantly increase your yes-shows.
It appears we have a theme going this week. Brooke devoted Monday and Tuesday to discussing WebPT’s business reports. Yesterday, I showed you the ins and outs of the Plan of Care Report. But monitoring your Medicare compliance doesn’t end there. Here are a few more helpful reports:
Medicare Payment Adjustment Report (MPAR)
The Medicare Payment Adjustment Report (MPAR) shows you how multiple procedure payment reductions (MPPR) are affecting your clinic’s profits and losses. Most practice management systems do not provide this data, so this report gives WebPT clinics a significant advantage as they can assess the impact of MPPR and adjust their processes accordingly.
To access the MPAR, click “MPA Report,” located under the Reports section on the left side of the WebPT application. Once inside the MPAR, you will see search fields for Time Period, Patient, and Therapist. You’ll create the report using the Patient field. Simply search for a Medicare patient with finalized notes. Patient names will start to appear as you type, but be sure to enter a minimum of three letters. To access a patient, select his or her name and click “Generate Report.”
To see additional screenshots and further instructions, check out the MPAR user guide.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the MPPR-applied discount for institutional and noninstitutional facilities will be 50% on the second and subsequent procedure each day. You can view fee amounts inside the Medicare Fee Schedule (located in your clinic’s dropdown menu in the top-right corner of your WebPT dashboard). Please note that in order for the Medicare Fee Schedule to function, you must select regional location and facility type within Clinic Settings, which you can also access from your clinic’s dropdown. We pull these fees directly from CMS. For more on MPPR calculations and formulas, check out this CMS page and this APTA page.
For more details on MPPR and the fee schedule, check out this user guide.
Medicare Cap Report
Another essential compliance report is the Medicare Cap Report, which allows you to view your Medicare patients’ progress toward the therapy cap. It also enables you to see whether your therapists have attached the KX modifier for those patients who’ve exceeded the cap. This report also has an alert system associated with it. The rules of the therapy cap can be overwhelming and tricky, to say the least. Luckily, our report and alerts help keep you on the right side of the regulations.
To access the Medicare Allowable Cap Report, click “Medicare Cap Report” located under Reports on the left side of the Dashboard.
As for the alerts, they appear when a patient is:
- approaching the cap
- exceeding the cap (time to attach the KX modifier!)
- approaching the Manual Medical Review threshold ($3,700)
- exceeding the Manual Medical Review threshold (in which case you must apply to CMS for a manual medical review)
Another WebPT perk? For those who have the Front Office Package, you can view a patient’s progress toward the therapy cap within the Scheduler.
Click here to access the therapy cap report and alerts user guide.
Speaking of tricky Medicare regulations, functional limitation reporting (FLR) was probably the most intense Medicare regulatory change in all of 2013. Not only did WebPT create an integrated reporting tool to ensure you’re FLR compliant, but we also developed a report that provides you with real-time business intelligence regarding FLR. The report shows you:
- patients seen
- total visits
- G-codes reported, as well as those used most frequently
The word “report” often carries a slightly negative connotation. After all, who honestly gets pumped up about things like book reports, progress reports, or TPS reports? (Okay, I admit it—I was a lit nerd who actually loved writing book reports, but that’s neither here nor there.) Anyway, when it comes to boosting and maintaining the health of your business, reports can be extremely valuable. And because there are already tons of awesome, easy-to-use reports available within WebPT, you don’t have to go far to take advantage of these tools. Over the next two days, I’ll discuss seven WebPT reports you should be using on the regular. Today, we’ll talk about the Missed Notes Report, the Claims Feed Report, and the Lost Patient Log.
1. Missed Notes Report
This report works in conjunction with the WebPT Scheduler to identify patients who were scheduled for appointments but do not have finalized notes for the appropriate dates of service. This is huge because if you forget to finalize a note, there won’t be a claim for that date of service, and as a result, you won’t get paid. By verifying that all notes are properly finalized, you ensure that those claims move through to billing.
As shown in the screenshot above, you can access the missed notes report under “Reports” on the left side of your WebPT dashboard. Here is what the report looks like (notice the “Missing” tag under “Doc Status”):
2. Claims Feed Report
If you bill through one of WebPT’s integrated billing services (e.g., Kareo, AdvancedMD, or CollaborateMD), you should be checking your Claims Feed Report on a daily basis. This report alerts you to various data problems or omissions that could prevent your information from carrying over to your billing system—which could be a problem if you want to receive fast reimbursements (and who doesn’t?). You can find examples of common alert errors—along with instructions for correcting them—within the Knowledge Base, located in the WebPT Community. (To access the Community, click the group icon in the top right of the application.)
3. Lost Patient Log
You know those patients who just seem to drop off the face of the planet, never to return to therapy again? Well, the Lost Patient Log can help you find them and bring them back into Earth’s orbit—er, your clinic. As shown in the screenshot below, this report generates a list of patients based on the number of days since their last Daily Note. In the far right column, you can see whether you’ve already scheduled a patient for another appointment. If you see the words “No Appointment,” it might be time to pick up the phone or send a friendly reminder email.
Pretty neat stuff, right? I bet you can’t wait to dig in to all that data goodness. Check back tomorrow to learn about four more awesome reports you should try out: the Prescription Report, the Referral Report, the Billing Report, and the Productivity Report.
As you’ve probably noticed, we’ve dedicated a sizeable portion of this month’s blog space to helping you and your clinic conserve resources and become more environmentally conscious. But let’s not forget about the most important resource of all—your time! You might assume that you need a major systematic overhaul to improve work efficiency in your clinic. Not so. In this case, small investments pay big dividends. Here are some quick tips to help you get the most out of every minute:
We hope this post finds our friends, Members, and colleagues on the East Coast safe and warm; however, we know many of you are still recovering from the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy. For that reason, we wanted to take a moment to share some valuable resources for you and your loved ones.
As Hurricane Sandy quickly approaches the East Coast, we thought we’d share some tips on accessing WebPT during a storm. Should a power outage occur, you can still access WebPT from a 3G or 4G device, such as a mobile web-enabled smartphone or tablet.
In a recent post, mHealth Insight explained that we’re more likely as consumers to drop the “health” in mHealth rather than the “mobile,” because mobile cannibalizes all things pocket-sized and digital. Anything plus mobile eventually just equals mobile. For example, camera phones and music phones are both now just phones. So, mHealth will soon just be mobile, too. Folks won’t look up from their giant touchscreen phones and say they’re “engaging with the Healthcare system;” they’ll instead say “oh, I’m just using my phone.”