In 2007, Donna Lang-Rice, PT, DPT, Cert. MDT, established Gilford Physical Therapy and Spine Center (Gilford PT) in the village of Gilford, New Hampshire, which borders Lake Winnipesaukee. Since then, the staff has grown considerably, and the company now employs three physical therapists, one physical therapist assistant, two receptionists, and Asia Giuffrida, who serves as the company’s office manager, biller, occasional receptionist, and marketer.
According to Giuffrida, in the days before WebPT, Gilford PT was operating straight out of the paleolithic era: Providers were documenting on paper, but they might as well have been documenting with “stone chisels on tablets,” she said. And the reception and billing departments felt the pressure. “We were constantly busy,” Giuffrida said. “And not the good kind of busy. We were transcribing and faxing for eight hours a day every day, and our desks were overflowing with charts to organize and folders stuffed with faxes to send and file.” It took six people manning the front desk to cover Gilford PT’s faxing and transcription needs—which, Giuffrida noted, was “a time-wasting duplication of the PT’s work.”
Then, there were the compliance and billing headaches. With the dozens of different insurance companies and their many different documentation requirements, Gilford PT’s front office staff constantly had to follow up with the PTs about claims and prior authorizations that were rejected as a result of missing information—and to do so, Giuffrida and her team had to spend far too much time trying to decipher “impossible-to-read handwriting.”
The company’s previous billing software, PTOS, was of little help: “Everything to do with our previous billing system was a challenge,” Giuffrida said. For starters, patient statements weren’t customizable, which meant they were very difficult for patients—and staff members, for that matter—to read and understand. PTOS also didn’t work with the practice’s clearinghouse, which added several time-consuming manual steps to the process. Furthermore, the software didn’t provide a comprehensive overview of claim statuses, so “keeping up with A/R was a nightmare,” Giuffrida said. “Entering payments was extremely tedious and inflexible; undoing mistakes almost always required a 20-minute phone call to the software’s help desk.”
Therabill is amazing because it fulfills every desire I have as an office manager/biller. It automates the mundane and allows me to fully control and customize whatever I choose. I would recommend it to anyone. I don't care what you are using right now; just cancel it. WebPT-plus-Therabill is better.
Thankfully, Gilford PT switched to WebPT. As someone who grew up with—and appreciates—technology, Giuffrida was immediately impressed with WebPT’s website: “It struck me as clean and organized,” she said. “So, I knew the software they designed would also reflect this same level of organization and easy navigation.”
WebPT’s online demo confirmed Giuffrida's predictions: “I could tell immediately that this software was designed by people who understood not only the needs of physical therapists, but also the needs of the front-office staff, which is why I begged our owner to choose WebPT.” And she did.
Today, Gilford PT only needs three people to manage the front desk (down from six), and everyone gets home on time. “We have so much more time and freedom to focus on increasing the quality of our work as opposed to being overwhelmed by quantity,” Giuffrida said. “And I have more time to spend on other things, like managing, updating our website, marketing, accounts receivable, and patient billing.” Additionally, the whole team loves the fact that they can securely access the system anytime, anywhere, from any Internet-enabled device, especially given the unpredictable New England winters: “We often have horrible weather in the winter, which makes getting to the office in the morning a dangerous voyage,” Giuffrida said. “Having the freedom to access WebPT from home in order to call patients during inclement weather has been a huge help.”
When WebPT acquired Therabill, Gilford PT decided to switch its billing software over to WebPT, too. “Before making the switch, we were having to build patients in our billing system and in WebPT,” Giuffrida said. “Because the systems didn’t integrate, we were doing double-duty. But as a huge WebPT fan, switching to its billing software, Therabill, was a no-brainer. It was an office manager’s dream come true.” The fact that Therabill syncs with WebPT almost immediately has been a huge help: “If I make a change in WebPT, I know our billing system will reflect that change.” Giuffrida said. “Therabill is like the crowning jewel of WebPT; it’s so incredibly user-friendly.”
According to Giuffrida, WebPT doesn’t let users get away with incomplete documentation—and that’s a good thing in her book. “WebPT actually changes the documentation requirements for each patient based on his or her insurance carrier,” Giuffrida said. “It’s incredible! And if vital information is needed, the system won’t let the PT finalize the note. That means that once we receive the note at the front desk, we always have the information we need to submit claims and prior authorization requests. This saves so much time for us and the PTs, because we get it right the first time.” Giuffrida also appreciates the fact that WebPT provides therapists with a “visual checklist” to ensure they don’t forget to record any important information.
Since switching to WebPT, Gilford PT has put an end to its paper-wasting days, thanks primarily to WebPT’s eDoc feature. “With eDoc and our super fast scanner, in the blink of an eye, we can have all the patient’s paperwork uploaded into the eDocs section of his or her chart, and the PTs have everything they need during a patient evaluation at their fingertips—without all the mess on their desks.”
When it comes to using WebPT’s billing software, Gilford PT says Therabill has made a significant impact on patient payments. According to Giuffrida, “the software makes it so easy to disperse and unassign patient payments—and I love that it allows me to differentiate between deductible and copay payments, and the patient statements are so easy to explain.”
The Gilford PT team has also experienced significantly more consistent reimbursements since switching to Therabill. “WebPT’s thorough documentation process simply doesn’t allow for the PT to skip or forget information that is critical to getting a claim paid,” she said. “I used to worry so much about rebilling periods with insurance companies. Now, it’s hardly a concern, because WebPT-Therabill helps us bill correctly the first time—and if rebilling is necessary, it’s a breeze.”
Gilford PT has seen improvements to its first-pass acceptance rate and A/R since making the switch. In fact, the clinic has reduced its A/R by an average of 38%—and the average days a claim is open (billed to paid and closed) has dropped from 48 to 26 days. “It’s incredible,” Giuffrida said. “This is well under [business management consultant] Diane McCutcheon's recommended standard of fewer than 35 days in A/R.”
“It is really quite astounding that such a critical aspect of my job is now almost completely automated,” Giuffrida said. “I have even been able to automate the modifiers to apply to certain codes. Obviously, I still double-check all the charges before billing for accuracy, but I have never caught an error.” That wasn’t the case when the Gilford PT team was using paper. “On paper, the billing process is susceptible to error several times before reaching the insurance company: the PT can charge too much or too little, and the biller can enter the wrong codes into the billing system, enter them under the wrong patient, or miss a charge altogether,” Giuffrida said. Compare that with WebPT, which “confirms that the charges follow the 8-Minute Rule before allowing finalization,” she said. “And the charges automatically send to Therabill, which then checks them against existing authorizations to make sure the visit was authorized before performing another error-check prior to sending the claim to insurance.” As a result, “there is almost no opportunity to make a mistake.”
WebPT-Therabill is like a loyal robot friend that does exactly what I ask it to. It is never late, it is never wrong, and just when you think it can't get any better, it does: I find another little hidden feature that just increases its value even more. There is no doubt in my mind that WebPT and Therabill were created by brilliant people who know what it's like to be in my shoes—to be at the mercy of the insurance companies and all of their ever-changing policies, preferences, rules, and regulations.
The team also appreciates Therabill’s customizable fields—and Giuffrida loves that the search payment functionality is filterable and organized by date of service. “When searching for a received payment or tracking a missing payment, being able to narrow my search by things like check number and posted date has made the process so much easier,” Giuffrida said. “Before, it was really hard to understand turnaround timelines, especially because we used to have to rebill things so frequently. Now, using Therabill’s reports, I can easily identify insurance company trends.”
Speaking of reporting, Gilford PT finds the provider weekly summary report “incredibly insightful and valuable” because the team can now see “how many hours of the PT’s day are spent actually bringing in revenue, how much they’re charging, and how much money they're generating in charges.” When combined with WebPT’s productivity report, the company is able to track the number of documents each therapist is generating in order to set better goals at both the individual therapist and company levels. Additionally, the insurance mix report helps the team identify where the bulk of their revenue is coming from. “We can then use these figures to determine approximately how much we're being paid per claim as well as the average payment per service from a particular insurance company. This data was very hard to compile in our old billing system.” And this knowledge has empowered Giuffrida to approach insurance companies and negotiate higher reimbursement rates; one such instance resulted in a 20% increase to the company’s payment agreement.
Another great perk has been WebPT’s educational materials. Giuffrida learned much of what she knows about billing from the content WebPT provided. She particularly enjoyed the instructional videos and phone support.
I have some seriously fun memories of being trained to use Therabill. My phone trainers were so friendly and helpful.