Government-Enabled Patient “Bounty Hunters”

Spider Webbing Technology May Trip-Up Miscreant Doctors

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA CMP™

HO-JFMS-CD-ROMUnder the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA), the U. S. Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) have operated an “Incentive Program for Fraud and Abuse Information.”

In this program, HHS pays $100 – $1,000 to Medicare recipients who report abuse in the program.

To assist patients in spotting fraud, HHS has published examples of potential fraud, which include:

  • medical services not provided;
  • duplicated services or procedures;
  • more expenses, services, or procedures claimed for than provided (upcoding/billing);
  • misused Medicare cards and numbers;
  • medical telemarketing scams; and
  • no-medical necessity.

Real Health Fraud Exists

There is no question that real fraud exists. The Office of Inspector General of HHS saved American taxpayers a record $32 billion in 2006, according to Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.  Savings were achieved through an intensive and continuing crackdown on waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare and over 300 other HHS programs. To discourage flagrant allegations, regulations require that reported information directly contribute to monetary recovery for activities not already under investigation.  For the DRA in 2009, this includes the following:

  • promoting state False Claims Acts (section 6032);
  • enhancing the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act, with “red flags” (PL 108-159); see http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-108publ159/content-detail.html
  • employee education about false claims recovery (section 6033);
  • augmenting the Medicaid Integrity Program (section 6034);
  • enhancing third party recovery (section 6035); and
  • “mining” medical claims for potential fraud with the help of sophisticated computer technology algorithms – called “spider-webbing” – which locate a common insurance claim denominator and then follow the thread throughout claims review. Indicators of  possible fraud include doctors charging more than peers; providers who administer more tests or procedures per patient; providers who conduct medically “unlikely” procedures; providers who bill for more expensive procedures and equipment when there are cheaper options; and patients who travel long distances for treatment.

Assessment

CMS and private companies are able to save far more money by detecting fraud before claims are paid than recovering the money after the factAnd so, a further erosion of patient confidence can be expected as CMS, and private insurers, assume the “bounty hunter” view of healthcare providers.

Conclusion

Of course, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Do you feel like the hunter; or the hunted? Tell us what you think? Do you ever – or never –  fear the spider? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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For details about how to report an abuse, see www.usdoj.gov/oig/FOIA/hotline.htm.

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The Need to Protect Accounts Receivable [ARs]

Understanding Liability and Stewardship Issues

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

By Dr. Gary L. Bode; MSA, CPA, CMP™

HOFMSAll hospitals, clinics, healthcare entities and doctors are aware that accounts receivable (ARs) represent money that is owed to them, usually by a patient, insurance company, health maintenance organization (HMO), Medicare, Medicaid, or other third party payer. In the reimbursement climate that exists today, it is not unusual for ARs to represent 75% of a hospital’s investments in current assets. ARs are a major source of cash flow, and cash flow is the life-blood of any healthcare entity. It pays bills, meets office payroll, and satisfies operational obligations.

Medical ARS are Different

A feature of ARs in healthcare organizations that differentiates them from ARs in other types of business is that they are often settled for less than the billed amounts. These allowances include four categories that are used to restate ARs to realizable expected values:

  • professional or courtesy allowances;
  • charity (pro bono care) allowances;
  • doubtful account allowances; and
  • HMO and managed care organization (MCO) contractual and prospective payment allowances.

AR Stewardship Issues

Good stewardship of assets requires that one must be concerned not only with significant economic losses due to professional conduct (professional malpractice liability concerns, and issues raised by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and so on); but that of physician partner(s) and even the financial failure of contracted private insurers, payers, MCOs, HMOs, etc. ARs are often the biggest asset to protect against creditors or adverse legal judgments. It is not unusual to have ARs in the range of a hundred thousand dollars for a group practice or medical clinic; and in the millions of dollars for a hospital. Yet, since they can easily be attached, ARs are known as exposed assets to creditors.

Assessment

A judgment creditor pursuing a doctor for a claim may pursue the assets of the clinic, and ARs and cash are the most vulnerable assets. ARs are as good as cash to a creditor, who usually has to do no more than seize them and wait a few months to collect them. If a creditor seizes ARs, the clinic or health entity may be hard pressed to pay its bills as they become due. One must therefore be vigilant to protect AR assets from lawsuit creditors.

More: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

FACTORING: ARs 1

Conclusion

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IRS Warning on Hospital Charity Care

On Hospital Community Benefit Laws 

By Staff ReportersOslo Port

According to an Internal Revenue Service survey of nearly 500 not-for-profit hospitals in May 2006, only nine percent of total revenues were dedicated to community charity care. The report warned charity [Samaritan] and not-for-profit healthcare entities that attempts to set a percentage threshold for determining tax-exempt compliance may have a:

disproportionate impact on hospitals, depending upon their size, where they are located their community benefit mix, and other hospital and community demographics.”

In a follow-up, February 12, 2009, the IRS reported on executive compensation of the same tax-exempt hospitals”.

Link: http://greisguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/eo_interim_hospital_report_072007.pdf

Existence Justification

HO-JFMS-CD-ROMWhile the question whether  tax-exempt hospitals are providing enough charity care to justify their tax exemption remains, the report failed to reach specific conclusions on whether existing community benefit standards are appropriate and if tax-exempt hospital executives are being compensated too richly. The findings also serve as a caution to long term acute care hospital [LTACH] governance and compensation committees.  The CEOs and CFOs of these entities should note that a similar survey may be performed on for-profit hospitals in the near future.

Defining “Community Benefits”

According to Jason Greis, of the Gries Guide on LTACHs, on February 12, 2009:

“The current ‘community benefit’ standard was established by the IRS in 1969 in Revenue Ruling 69-545.  The standard sets out factors to be considered in measuring community benefit, including: (i) a board made up of a broad base of community members; (ii) an open medical staff; (iii) participation in Medicare and Medicaid; (iv) application of surplus funds toward improving facilities, equipment, patient care, medical training, research, and education; and (v) a full-time emergency room open to all regardless of ability to pay (the emergency room standard applies differently to tax-exempt Long Term and Acute Care Hospitals [LTACH] that do not maintain a full array of emergency department services).  Under the current community benefit standard, individual hospitals are given flexibility to determine what services will-best serve their communities.”

Today, some pundits suggest that if Congress doesn’t establish new charity care requirements imminently, the IRS should revert to its community benefit standard above, and revise down or eliminate the tax exemption.

Link: http://greisguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/eo_interim_hospital_report_072007.pdf

Conclusion

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On Healthcare Intranets and Extranets

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A Primer for Physicians and Medical Executives

Dr. Mata

By Richard J. Mata; MD, MS, CMP™ [Hon]

According to the “Dictionary of Heath Information and Technology”,

“An intranet is a private network that uses Internet Protocols, network connectivity, and possibly the public telecommunication system to securely share part of an organization’s information or operations with its employees”.

Sometimes the term refers only to the most visible service, the internal website.  The same concepts and technologies of the Internet, such as clients and servers running on the Internet protocol suite, are used to build an intranet.

Uses in Healthcare

An intranet is commonly used to provide communication and application services.  The advantages of using an intranet in the healthcare setting include the following:

  • Medical Workforce productivity: Intranets can help employees quickly find and view information and applications relevant to their roles and responsibilities.  Via a simple-to-use web browser interface, users can access data held in any database the organization wants to make available, anytime and  subject to security provisions — from anywhere, increasing employees’ ability to perform their jobs faster, more accurately, and with confidence that they have the right information.
  • Time: With intranets, healthcare organizations can make more information available to employees on a “pull” basis (i.e., employees can link to relevant information at a time that suits them) rather than being deluged indiscriminately by e-mails.
  • Communication: Intranets can serve as powerful tools for communication within a healthcare organization; vertically and horizontally.

Vulnerability and Security Protection

Intranets, like other IT systems, need to be protected by security systems. Any intranet is vulnerable to attack by people intent on destruction or on stealing corporate data. The open nature of the Internet and TCP/IP protocols expose a corporation to attack.  Intranets require a variety of security measures, including hardware and software combinations that provide control of traffic; encryption and passwords to validate users; and software tools to prevent and cure viruses, block objectionable sites, and monitor traffic.

Multiple Lines of Defense

The first line of defense is a firewall and these are commonly set up using proxy servers, which allow system administrators to track all traffic coming in and out of an intranet. Another layer of sophistication is added by using a bastion server firewall, configured to withstand and prevent unauthorized access or services. It is typically segmented from the rest of the intranet in its own subnet or perimeter network. In this way, if the server is broken into, the rest of the intranet won’t be compromised.

Authentication Systems

Authentication systems are an important part of any intranet security scheme. They are used to ensure that anyone trying to log into the intranet or any of its resources is the person they claim to be. Authentication systems typically use user names, passwords, fingerprints and iris scans, and various encryption systems.

Protection and Monitoring

Server-based software is used to protect an intranet and its data. Virus-checking software can check every file coming into the intranet to make sure that it is virus-free, and site-blocking software can bar people on the intranet from getting objectionable material. Monitoring software tracks where people have gone and what services they have used, such as HTTP for Web access.

Filtering Systems and Routers

One way of ensuring that the wrong people or erroneous data can’t get into the intranet is to use a filtering router. This is a special kind of router that examines the IP address and header information in every packet coming into the network, and allows in only those packets that have addresses or other data, like e-mail, that the system administrator has decided should be allowed into the intranet. Increasingly, intranets are being used to deliver tools and applications, e.g., collaboration (to facilitate working in groups and for teleconferences) or sophisticated corporate directories, sales and customer relationship management (CRM) tools, project management, etc, to advance productivity. Intranets are also being used as Health 2.0 culture change platforms

Metrics

Intranet traffic, like public-facing website traffic, is better understood by using web metrics software to track overall activity, as well as through surveys of users. Intranet User experience, editorial, and technology teams work together to produce in-house sites. Most commonly, intranets are owned by the communications, HR or IT areas of large healthcare organizations, or some combination of the three.

Assessment

When part of an intranet is made accessible to customers, partners, suppliers, patients, or others outside the healthcare organization – that part becomes part of an extranet.

Conclusion

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Understanding the Need for Onsite Practice Management Visits

Interview Information also Important

By Dr. David E. Marcinko and Staff Reporters

www.healthcareFinancials.comHO-JFMS-CD-ROM

According to Robert James Cimasi MHA, ASA, AVA, CMP™ of Health Capital Consultants, LLC, in St. Louis, MO, the following types of information specific to medical practices should be gathered by the financial executive, financial advisor or healthcare consultant when performing a practice enhancement engagement, or especially, an economic valuation and appraisal. This information may be obtained through an interview, questionnaire, or preferably a site visit:

  • Background Information: Include such information as the number of years the entity has operated at its current location and in the community, as well as the office hours.
  • Building Description: Include the location (urban/suburban), proximity to hospitals and other medical facilities, and its size, construction, electrical and computer wiring, age, access to parking, and so on.
  • Office Description: Approximate acquisition details and price, as well as ownership or lease details should be included.  The square footage and number of rooms, and a description of different office areas should be outlined, including, where applicable: medical equipment, including all diagnostic imaging and major medical equipment; pharmacy, laboratory, examination rooms, waiting rooms, and other areas.
  • Management Information Systems: Document types of hardware and software and the cost, age, and suitability of all components, including their management functions, reporting capabilities, and integration between programs.
  • History of the Entity: Give the date founded and by whom, the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) physicians in practice by year, the physicians who have joined and left the entity, the dates they practiced at the entity, and their relationship and practice arrangement with the entity.
  • Staff Description: Include the number and types of non-physician positions as well as the tenure and salary of all current employees.
  • Competitive Analysis: Include details of hospital programs impacting practice, growth or decline in the volume of business and the reasons, association with other physicians, competitive strengths and threats, the number and volume of procedures performed, any change in the number and volume, and the corresponding fees.
  • Patient Base Information: Encompass income distribution and percentages from different payors, the number of new patients and total patients seen per week, the age mix of patients, the number of hours spent in patient care per week, and the number of surgeries performed.
  • Managed Care Environment: Details the terms and conditions of all managed care contracts including discounts and withholds, the impact on referral patterns and revenues, willingness to participate in risk sharing contracts and capitation, and the entity’s managed care reporting capabilities.
  • Hospital Privileges and Facilities: List all hospital privileges held by physician members of the medical practice and the requirements for acquiring privileges at the different local hospitals.
  • Credit Policy and Collections: Include practice policies for billing and payment, use of collection agencies, acceptance of assignments, other sources of revenues, and an aged breakdown of accounts receivable.
  • Financial Management: Include cash management procedures and protections, credit lines and interest, controls to improve payment of accounts payable, late payment frequency, formal or informal financial planning methods, and budgeting processes.
  • Operational Assessment: Include governance structure for the entity, detailing responsibilities and procedures for performance, conflicts, recruitment, outcomes measures, case management, reimbursement; income, continuing medical education (CME), credentialing, and utilization review.

Assessment

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The financial advisor must also allow for discussion of overall relationships with physicians in the community, practice concerns, and needs.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Have you ever had such an onsite visit? Was it by a fiduciary financial advisor or medical management consultant; or other? What was the outcome? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Medical Malpractice Trial Types

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Understanding the Litigation Process

By Dr. Jay S. Grife; Esq, MAinsurance-book

There are two types of trials, trial by jury and trial by judge. It is the task of the judge to determine the law, while the jury determines the facts.  In a trial by judge—called a “bench” trial—the judge determines both the law and the facts.  The U.S. Constitution guarantees a trial by jury.  If a party does not request a jury trial, however, the right to a jury trial can be waived.

The Statistics

Most civil cases in the United States are tried by jury.  Of the 3 percent of all cases that go to trial, the Department of Justice reports about two-thirds are jury trials, and one-third are bench trials. Whether to try a case to the judge or to a jury is strictly a matter of choice by the litigants.  If either party timely requests a jury trial, however, the case must be tried to a jury.  Because of the constitutional implications, in most cases both parties must waive their right to a jury trial in order for the case to be tried to a judge.  In a few instances, such as trials for injunctions and family law matters, a jury trial is not an option and a judge must hear the case.  However, the majority of civil issues offer the litigants a choice between bench or jury trials.

Notions and Perceptions

So why would anyone choose to have a case heard by a judge as opposed to a jury, or vice versa?  The reasons are mainly based on preconceived notions about judge and juror biases.  Generally, most litigants favor a jury over a judge because the decision is put into the hands of many rather than in the hands of one.  Plaintiffs usually like juries because lay individuals are believed to be more sympathetic, and a plaintiff can appeal to the emotions of a jury.  Conversely, defendants usually prefer bench trials because a judge is thought to be more objective in deciding a case.  Requesting a bench trial can also result in a much quicker trial date.  Since court dockets in most large cities are becoming increasingly congested, the time difference between a jury trial date and a bench trial date can be literally years.

Assessment

None of the perceptions about the benefits of a jury trial or a bench trial apply to all situations—every case is different.  There is at least some empirical evidence that some of the commonly held conceptions about bench and jury trials are actually misconceptions.  For example, while it is almost universally believed that juries tend to favor plaintiffs and award much higher monetary amounts, a recent study by the Department of Justice suggests that judges favor plaintiffs and return higher verdicts.  Still, jury trials outnumber bench trials by about two to one [1].

Conclusion

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[1] See Civil Jury Cases and Verdicts in Large Counties, Civil Justice Survey of State Courts at: http://www.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cjcavilc.htm.

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Proactive Medical Accounts Receivable Monitoring

Forewarned is Forearmed

Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA CMP™

By Dr. Gary L. Bode; MSA, CPA, CMP™

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

All hospitals, medical clinics, healthcare entities, and doctors are aware that accounts receivable (ARs) represent money that is owed to them, usually by a patient, insurance company, health maintenance organization (HMO), Medicare, Medicaid, or other third party payor. In the reimbursement climate that exists today, it is not unusual for ARs to represent 75% of a hospital’s investments in current assets. And, a medical practice may have ARs in the range of several hundred thousand dollars. ARs are a major source of cash flow, and cash flow is the life-blood of any healthcare entity. It pays bills, meets office payroll, and satisfies operational obligations.

Avoidance Management

The best way to manage AR problems is to avoid them in the first place by implementing a good system of AR control. Answering the following questions may help upgrade a system of AR control:

  • Is an AR policy in place for the collection of self-pay accounts (de minimus and maximus amounts, annual percentage rate (APR), terms, penalties, etc.)?
  • Do employees receive proper AR, bad debt, and follow-up training within legal guidelines?
  • Are AR exceptions approved by the doctor, office manager, or accounting department, or require individual scrutiny?
  • Are AR policies in place for dealing with hardship cases, pro bono work, co-pay waivers, discounts, or no-charges?
  • Are collection procedures within legal guidelines?
  • Are AR policies in place for dealing with past due notices, telephone calls, dunning messages, collection agencies, small claims court, and other collection methods?
  • Are guidelines in place for handling hospital, clinic, or medical practice consultations, unpaid claims, refilling of claims, and appealing claims?
  • Are office AR policies periodically revised and reviewed, with employee input?
  • Does the doctor, hospital, or clinic agree with and support the guidelines?

Assessment

It is  typical that poor control occurs because the doctor and/or hospital is too busy treating patients, or the front office or administrative staff does not have, or follow a good system of AR control.

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Conclusion

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On Growing Tensions in Healthcare Services Markets

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Stressors Affecting all Stakeholders

[By Robert James Cimsai; MHA, AVA, ASA, CMP™]

http://www.HealthCapital.com

The changes in reimbursement for Medicare services through the introduction of prospective payment systems and physician reimbursement cuts for professional services, as well as the increased focus on patient quality and transparency initiatives and health 2.0 collaboration have forced healthcare providers to look for more efficient ways to provide services, as well as additional sources of revenue and margin-producing business.

Additionally, with the rise of corporate healthcare provider networks and health systems, together with rising healthcare costs, competition among providers has become prevalent in the healthcare industry.

Assessment

Strict control of reimbursement costs from payers and consistent decreases in physician professional component fee reimbursement yields; reduction in traditional hospital inpatient use; and higher costs of capital have all contributed to the trend of physician investment in outpatient (and inpatient) specialty provider enterprises [ASCs, specialty hospitals and clinics, etc] , which often compete with general acute care community hospital providers.

Conclusion

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Introducing Parin Kothari MBA

Our Newest ME-P Thought-Leader

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™

[Managing Editor]Parin Kothari MBA

Parin Kothari is a seasoned management consultant with focus on strategy and operations. He earned his MBA from Syracuse University in New York and has eight years experience spanning various industries from automobiles & advertising to healthcare management & financial services.

Infamous Banking and Financial Services Industry

As Vice President of business architecture at Wells Fargo Bank, one of the leading financial institutions in US, Parin consults on realizing business strategy using information technology. He has presented at leading banks in Canada, Israel, Turkey and New Zealand, and is also a guest lecturer at Syracuse University. Besides working for the infamous banking industry, Parin is also a strong supporter of non profit work in the field of primary education. He works with several schools and non profit organizations in the San Francisco Bay area, as well as in developing countries such as Palestine, India, Cambodia and Iraql; and is deeply involved with education among Iraqi youth in Cambodia. 

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Assessment

We are all sure to learn much from Parin Kothari, our newest ME-P thought-leader.

Conclusion

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About the MS Office® eMR Project

Programming a Powerful eMR – or – Jumping the Shark?

By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

Recently we communicated with Al Borges MD, founder of the Office eMR Project. He is quite an innovative guy. His passion – eMRs for the physician masses – through an infra-structure already largely in place?DrBHP2

The Problem: You want to use a great eMR but you can’t afford to pay for it.

You have a growing medical office that is completely paper based, and wish to capture the efficiencies of an electronic medical record (eMR) system. But, many eMR systems on the market are complicated, expensive and have been known to actually slow down the typical office workflow. You have used the MS Office® suite of software products in the past and appreciate its power, but you don’t know how to use it to set up a great eMR that perfectly suits your needs.

An Alternative

Alternatively, you can purchase an inexpensive MS Office® based proprietary eMR, but you might wish to write an add-in to incorporate add certain features to this basic, but excellent eMR platform. So, what do [can] you do?

CCHIT Takes a Hit

http://www.emrupdate.com/blogs/emrinterviews/archive/2006/10/09/CCHIT-takes-a-hit-from-Washington_2C00_-D.C.-area-doctor-who-claims-new-certification-group-restrains-free-trade-in-EMR-_2800_Electronic-Medical-Record_2900_-software.aspx

https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/cchit-is-prejudiced-and-lacks-diversity-%e2%80%93-an-indictment/

A Solution: Open Source Programs

According to Dr. Borges, one may use his web site to get the answers to program your eMR. His site discusses these very issues. It is continuously growing, with a host of free programs, position papers and forum discussions that touch on a wide variety of topics. These include general information on the use of MS Office® in the medical office, programming the various components of MS Office®, and those political topics that affect how we use health information technology [HIT].

Two Program Versions

There are 2 major eMR programs available – the MS Word® eMR Project (MSWP) and the MS Access® eMR Project (MSAP). But, is the Office eMR Project of Alberto truly an interoperable solution – a digital solution – or something else?

Website: http://www.msofficeemrproject.comThe Shark

Jumping the Shark

Jumping the Shark is a phrase coined by Jon Hein and used by TV critics to denote the point in a show where the plot veers off into absurd story lines in a desperate attempt to attract viewers. Shows that have “jumped the shark” are typically deemed to have passed their peak. On the other hand, is Dr. Borges a Cassandra at his peak … who just happens to be correct? 

MSFT Discussion Groups for Al Borges, MD

http://www.microsoft.com/office/community/en-us/default.mspx?query=alborg&dg=&cat=en-us-office&lang=en&cr=US&pt=3a4e9862-cdce-4bdc-8664-91038e3eb1e9&catlist=&dglist=&ptlist=&exp=&sloc=en-us

Making eHRs Illegal?

For example, did you know that the democrats want to make use of non certified eHRs illegal in NJ? The bill allegedly provides specifically as follows:

“On or after January 1, 2011, no person or entity is permitted to sell, offer for sale, give, furnish, or otherwise distribute to any person or entity in this State a health information technology product that has not been certified by CCHIT.  A person or entity that violates this provision is liable to a civil penalty of not less than $1,000 for the first violation, not less than $2,500 for the second violation, and $5,000 for the third and each subsequent violation, to be collected pursuant to the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999,” P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).”

Link: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2008/Bills/A4000/3934_I1.HTM

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Is the Office eMR Project a panacea to the eMR conundrum, or a hybrid? What about CCHIT; is it certified – does it have to be? Users and early-adopters, we need your opinions! Has the “shark been jumped” here; or not? Tell us what you think. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Medical Negligence and the “Burden of Proof”

Understanding the Malpractice Trial Process

By Dr. Jay S. Grife; Esq, MAinsurance-book

In all civil trials, the plaintiff, as the accuser, has the burden of proving his case.  Much like a criminal defendant, a civil defendant has no burden and is presumed “innocent” of any claim by the plaintiff.  As a result, if the plaintiff presents no evidence, or insufficient evidence to support his claim, the defendant wins without having to present his case.  The burden the plaintiff carries is that he must prove his case by what is called a preponderance of the evidence.  In other words, the plaintiff must prove it is more likely than not that he should win.  The best way to visualize this burden is to imagine a set of scales.  If the scales are even, or tipped in favor of the defendant, then the plaintiff has not carried his burden, and loses.  In order to prevail, the plaintiff must tip the scales in his favor.

Proving Medical Malpractice

To prove a case of medical malpractice, a plaintiff-patient must present evidence that the defendant-doctor was negligent, and the plaintiff does this by proving the treatment provided was below the applicable standard of care.  The “standard of care” is the care and skill that a reasonably prudent practitioner would provide in treating a patient.  It is established by the medical community at large, and is constantly evolving.  Care that violates the standard of care today may not necessarily violate the standard of care several years ago.  This distinction is an important one, since most cases take several years to get to trial.  The standard of care is never based on the outcome of the case; a bad result does not necessarily mean a violation of the standard of care.

The Medical Expert Witnesses

Expert medical testimony is required to establish a violation of the standard of care in virtually all medical malpractice cases.  A plaintiff who fails to present the required expert medical testimony in a medical malpractice case will lose.  The plaintiff must also produce expert medical testimony that the alleged negligence caused the injury.

For example, suppose that a patient’s widow brings a medical malpractice case against a surgeon who admitted the patient for removal of an AO plate embedded in bone.  The plaintiff-widow alleges that the surgeon should have done something to prevent a pulmonary embolism, which occurred three days after the patient was dismissed from the hospital, killing him.  The patient might have an expert who would testify that she would not have removed the AO plate, but left it in place.  Such testimony does not carry the burden of proving care below the standard required of the surgeon.  Indeed, in most cases, the standard of care allows a practitioner to choose from a variety of treatment options within an acceptable range.  Mere testimony by an expert witness that “I would have treated this patient differently” is insufficient to establish a breach of the standard of care.  The bad result also is not itself proof of any negligence.  Nor is there any evidence that the doctor caused the patient’s death (i.e., that the embolism would not have occurred without the alleged negligence of the surgeon). Therefore, doctor wins on all elements.

Assessment

Have you ever been involved in a medical malpractice trial; or other healthcare litigation process? The Medical Executive-Post readers are interested in hearing your story.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Medical Accounts Receivable and Related Formulae

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Understanding Rationale and Formulae

[By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™]

[By Dr. Gary L. Bode; CPA, MSA, CMP™]

HO-JFMS-CD-ROMMedical practices, clinics and hospitals generate a patient account or an account receivable (AR) at the same time as they send the patient a bill or the insurance company a claim. ARs are treated as current assets (cash equivalents) on the healthcare entity balance sheet, and usually with a percentage mark-down to reflect historic collection rates.

The Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a snapshot of a medical practice or healthcare entity at a specific point in time. This contrasts with the income statement (profit and loss), which shows accounting data across a period of time. The balance sheet uses the accounting formula:

Assets (what the entity owns) = Liabilities (what the entity owes) + Entity Equity (left over).

AR Aging Schedules

HDSAccording to the Dictionary of Health Economics and Finance, an AR aging schedule is a periodic report (30, 60, 90, 180, or 360 days) showing all outstanding ARs identified by patient or payor, and month due. The average duration of an AR is equal to total claims, divided by accounts receivable. Faster is better, of course, but it is not unusual for a hospital to wait six, nine, twelve months, or more for payment. Each of these measures seeks to answer two questions:

1) How many days of revenue are tied up in ARs?

2) How long does it take to collect ARs?

More Formulae

An important measure in the analysis of accounts receivable is the AR Ratio, AR Turnover Rate, and Average Days Receivables, expressed by these formulae:

1. AR Ratio = Current AR Balance / Average Monthly Gross Production
(suggested between 1 and 3 for hospitals)

2. AR Turnover Rate = AR Balance / Average Monthly Receipts

3. Average Days Receivable = AR Balance / Daily Average Charges
(suggested < 90 days for medical practices)

And Even More Measures

Other significant measures include:

1. Collection Period = ARs / Net Patient Revenue / 365 days

2. Gross Collection Percentage = Clinic Collections / Clinic Production
(suggested > 40-80% for hospitals)

3. Net Collection Percentage = Clinic Collections / Clinic Production – (minus) Contractual Adjustments (suggested > 80-90% for medical practices)

4. Contractual Percentage = Contractual adjustments / Gross production
(suggested < 40-50% for hospitals).

Assessment

Often, older ARs are often written off, or charged back as bad debt expenses and never collected at all.

Conclusion

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Discount Brokerages versus On-Line Brokerages

Physicians Must Appreciate the Differences

By Daniel B. Moisand; CFP® and the ME-P StaffME-P Blogger

Here are a few questions for all physician-investors to consider in 2009:

1. True or False? 

The key to investment success is to pay as little for a trade as possible.

2. True or False? 

The higher the number of trades in an investment account, the better the investment results.

3. True or False? 

The majority of revenue of a discount or on-line brokerage comes from trades. 

A: The answers should be crystal clear! False, False and True. It is almost entirely that simple.

Cost Control

Much like a medical practice, keeping costs down is an important objective of personal finance but, it is certainly not the key to success.  There are many studies that show that active trading garners inferior results compared to a longer term buy and hold type of strategy. One of the most publicized recently was conducted by a UC-Davis team led by Dr. Terrance Odean. The study examined the actual tracing activity of thousands of self-directed accounts at a major discount brokerage over a six-year period. The results were clear. Regardless of trading level, most of the accounts underperformed the market and showed that the higher the number of trades, the worse the result.

Of Bulls and Bears

While the U.S. markets were on a dramatic upswing a decade ago, the general interest level in them increased as well.  More households owned financial assets than ever before. Demographics drive much of this surge. The older edge of the baby boom generation is finding that as the children leave home, they have more income than ever before and saving for retirement becomes a higher priority. The proliferation of defined contribution [401-k, 403-b] retirement plans has also forced more people to take responsibility for their long-term security. When, the US stock market was on a tear; one would have be wise to remember an old Wall Street saying – “Don’t confuse brains with a bull market.” Unfortunately today, far too many self-directed investors did not heed the warnings. The media is full of stories about investors whose portfolios were decimated by the recent bear market. While this loss of wealth is somewhat tragic, in almost all cases the losses were made possible by poor planning and/or poor execution that a mediocre advisor would have avoided.

The Business of Advice

One also cannot conclude that everyone is acting as his or her own investment advisor. The advice business continues to thrive. Sales of load mutual funds have continued to grow, as has commission revenue at full-service firms. No-load funds have continued to grow as well and gain market share from the load funds. However, it would be inaccurate to tie that growth to do-it-yourselfers. Much of the growth of no-load funds can be attributed to the advice of various types of advisors who are recommending the funds. In addition, several traditionally no-load fund families have begun to offer funds through brokers for a load.

The Discounters

For physicians and all clients, the primary attraction to a discounter is cost. Everyone loves a bargain. Once it is determined that it is a good idea to buy say 100 shares of IBM, the trade needs to get executed. When the trade settles one owns 100 shares of IBM, regardless of what was paid for the trade. There is no harm in saving a few bucks. However, the decision to buy the IBM shares and when to sell those shares will have a far greater impact on the investment results than the cost of the trade as long as the level of trading is kept at a prudent level. The fact is that most good advisors use discount firms for custodial and transaction services. The leading providers to advisors are Schwab, Fidelity, and Waterhouse.fp-book1

Ego Driven

In addition to cost savings, discounters appeal to one’s ego for business. Everyone wants to feel like a smart investor; especially doctors. Often, marketing materials will cite the IBM example and portray the cost difference as an example of how the investor is either stupid or being ripped off. There is also a strong appeal to one’s sense of control. An investor is made to feel like they are the masters of their own destiny.  All of this is a worthy goal. One should feel confident, in control, and smart about financial issues. Hiring a professional should not result in losing any of these feelings, rather solidify them. Getting one’s affairs in order is smart. The advisor works for the client so a client should maintain control by only delegating tasks to the extent one is comfortable. Knowing that the particular circumstances are being addressed effectively should yield enhanced confidence.

Sales Pressure Release

The final reason people turn to discount and on-line brokerages is to avoid sales pressure. Unlike the stereotypical stockbroker, no one calls to push a particular stock. Instead, sales pressure is created within the mind of the investor. By maintaining a steady flow of information about stocks and the markets to the account holders, brokerages keep these issues in the forefront of the investor’s minds. This increases the probability that the investor will act on the information and execute a trade. Add some impressive graphics and interfaces and the brokerage can keep an investor glued to the screen. The Internet has made this flow easier and cheaper for the brokerages, lowering costs and increasing the focus on trade volume to achieve profitability.

Assessment

The pressurized information flow however, does little to protect investors during a bear market. Ironically, this focus on trading is one of the very conflicts investors are trying to avoid by fleeing a traditional full service broker.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. What are your feelings on discount and internet brokers? Tell us what you think. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Sample Medical Practice Sales Non-Disclosure Agreement

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Customizable Medical Practice Valuation Example

[By Staff Reporters]insurance-book

The undersigned acknowledges that Hamilton Family Clinic (HFC) has furnished to the undersigned potential Investor (“Investor”) certain proprietary data (“Confidential Information”) relating to the business affairs and operations of Hamilton Family Clinic (HFC) for study and evaluation by Investor for possibly investing in Hamilton Family Clinic (HFC).

It is acknowledged by Investor that the information provided by Hamilton Family Clinic (HFC) is confidential; therefore, Investor agrees not to disclose it and not to disclose that any discussions or contracts with Hamilton Family Clinic (HFC) have occurred or are intended, other than as provided for in the following paragraph.

It is acknowledged by Investor that information to be furnished is in all respects confidential in nature, other than information which is in the public domain through other means and that any disclosure or use of same by Investor, except as provided in this agreement, may cause serious harm or damage to Hamilton Family Clinic (HFC), and its owners and officers.

Therefore, Investor agrees that Investor will not use the information furnished for any purpose other than as stated above, and agrees that Investor will not either directly or indirectly by agent, employee, or representative, disclose this information, either in whole or in part, to any third party; provided, however that (a) information furnished may be disclosed only to those directors, officers and employees of Investor and to Investor’s advisors or their representatives who need such information for the purpose of evaluating any possible transaction (it being understood that those directors, officers, employees, advisors and representatives shall be informed by Investor of the confidential nature of such information and shall be directed by Investor to treat such information confidentially), and (b) any disclosure of information may be made to which Hamilton Family Clinic (HFC) consents in writing. At the close of negotiations, Investor will return to Hamilton Family Clinic (HFC) all records, reports, documents, and memoranda furnished and will not make or retain any copy thereof.

__________________

Signature – and – Date

LINK: Sample

Assessment

No intent to practice law; sample customizable template only. Always consult an attorney or competent consultant familiar with your individual circumstances before use.

Conclusion

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Meet Richard A. Berning MD

Our Newest “Thought-Leader”

By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

The Medical Executive-Post is proud to introduce Richard Berning MD as our newest thought-leader for medical practice management modernity.

Richard Berning MD

About Dr. Berning

Dr. Richard A. Berning attended the University of Cincinnati – College of Medicine. He is a pediatric cardiologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics who practices in Hartford, CT. His patients call him “DrRichB.”

PrivatePractice.MD [An Emerging Network]

PrivatePractice.MD (pronounced “Private Practice dot MD”) is an emerging Health 2.0 community of experienced physicians in private practice, and the supporting experts and advisors who help them start and manage private medical practices. It is the brain-child of Dr. Berning who believes that a well-run medical practice results in better patient care, physician income and quality of life. Health care is rapidly changing and is destined to change at an even faster pace in the future.

The Website

According to the website, experienced doctors can discuss business decisions with other experienced experts in each of the listed aspects of managing the business side of medical practice. Questions about practice structure, partnership issues, medical billing, electronic medical records, quality control, staff and other medical office management issues are addressed; and others are in development. Physician-specific issues such as credentialing, medical malpractice, and insurance, investing, pensions and retirement planning are also discussed. A job board will soon list opportunities, and a classified ad section will list new and used equipment and real estate for sale, trade or barter. The goal for PrivatePractice.MD is to be a deep resource for all medical providers in private practice today.

Assessment

We are in luck, too! Rich has promised to publish his most exciting ideas and innovative works on our blog. He is also available through PrivatePractice.MD. So, let’s give a warm ME-P “shout-out” to Dr. Richard A. Berning, our newest “thought-leader.” Stethoscope

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Feel free to send in your comments whenever Rich posts. Visit his site, sign-up for his newsletter, and let the discussions begin.

Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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About AllHealthCareJobs.com

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The Dice Purchase

[By Scot Melland]

Announcement Opportunity

I am pleased to announce that Dice Holdings now owns AllHealthcareJobs.com.

A Medical Career Web Site

 AllHealthcareJobs.com is a leading online career site dedicated to matching healthcare professionals with the best career opportunities in their profession.

Known for its unique search engine, AllHealthcareJobs.com allows hiring managers and recruiters to quickly locate and recruit highly-qualified healthcare professionals in more than 500 available job specialties across the healthcare industry. In fact, more than 50 percent of AllHealthcareJobs candidates have at least five years experience in the industry and encompass a wide range of healthcare fields such as nursing, allied health, laboratory, pharmacy and medicine.

Assessment

AllHealthcareJobs.com joins Dice’s other specialized job sites and job fairs in providing the most skilled and experienced professionals for affiliated job openings. If you have any questions or are interested in learning more, contact us at 1.877.386.3323 or visit www.AllHealthcareJobs.com. Thank you for your continued support.

Regards
Scot Melland
Chairman, President & CEO
Dice Holdings, Inc.
3 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10016
1.877.386.3323

Conclusion

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Understanding the PHI “Minimum Necessary” Rule

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Protected Health Information and HIPAA

By Richard J. Mata; MD, MIS, CMP™ [Hon]

Dr. Mata

One important concept of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPAA] is the “minimum necessary” rule, which states the minimum use of Protected Health Information [PHI] to identify a person, such as a social security number, home address, or phone number.

Only the essential elements are to be used in transferring information from the patient record to anyone else that needs this information.

Financial Information Included

This is especially important when financial information is being addressed. Only the minimum codes necessary to determine the cost should be provided to the financial department. No other information should be accessed by that department. Many institutions have systems where a registration or accounting clerk can pull up as much information as a doctor or nurse, but this is now against HIPAA policy and subject to penalties. The “minimum necessary” rule is also changing the way software is set up and vendor access is provided.

Human Resources

Another challenging task is keeping up with the number of people who access PHI, because the privacy regulations allow a patient to receive an accounting of anyone who has accessed their information, both internally (within your hospital, Emerging Healthcare Organization, or medical entity) and externally (such as through your business associates).  The patient has the right to know who in the lengthy data chain has seen their PHI.  This sets up an audit challenge for the medical organization, especially if the accountability is programmed internally.  When other business associates use this PHI without documenting access to a specific patient’s PHI, no one would be accountable for a breach in privacy.

http://www.findbookprices.com/author/Hope_Hetico

One way to track access is through a designated record set, which contains medical or mixed billing records, and any other information that a physician and/or medical practice utilizes for making decisions about a patient.  It is up to the hospital, EHO, or healthcare organization to define which set of information comprises “protected health information” and which does not, though logically this should not differ from locale to locale.

Assessment

Overlaps from the privacy regulations that are also addressed in the security regulations are access controls, audit trails, policies on e-mail and fax transmissions, contingency planning, configuration management, entity and personal authentication, and network controls. For more information about the Security Standards final rule; reference the Federal Register.

Conclusion

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Medical Coding and Billing Vocabulary

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Basic HIT Nomenclature and HIPAA

[By Richard J. Mata; MD, MIS, CMP™ [Hon]

For the Health Information Technology [HIT] department of a hospital, clinic or medical practice and its coders, the following medical vocabularies are mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPAA].

Diseases 

For diseases: the 9th or 10th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) Clinical Modification should be used.  ICD9-CM is maintained by the Centers for Disease Control National Center for Health Statistics, while ICD-10 is maintained by the World Health Organization.

Procedures

For medical procedures: a combination of ICD-9-CM, Current Procedural Terminology maintained by the American Medical Association, the Current Dental Terminology maintained by the American Dental Association, and Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) maintained by CMS, which is also used for medical devices.

Pharmaceuticals

For drugs: these should be coded according to their National Drug Code classification.

Assessment

“A recent change to Medicare policy made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) helps ensure claims processing isn’t delayed when the only missing information on the CMS-1490S form is the provider or supplier’s National Provider Identifier (NPI).

CMS Transmittal 1747, Change Request 6434, issued May 22, notifies A/B Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC) and carriers of editorial changes to Medicare policy in Pub. 100-04, Medicare Claims Processing Manual, chapter 1 regarding the monitoring of claims submission violations and the handling of incomplete or invalid claims.

In either case, as stated in the transmittal, “If the beneficiary furnishes all other information but fails to supply the provider or supplier’s NPI, the contractor shall not return the claim but rather look up the provider or supplier’s NPI using the NPI registry.”

http://www.aapc.com/news/index.php/2009/06/missing-npi-no-reason-to-deny-says-cms/

Conclusion

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Capital Sources for Hospitals

Understanding the Liquidity Crunch -with- Publisher’s Interview

By Calvin W. Weise; MBA, CMA, CPA

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

HO-JFMS-CD-ROMHospital are struggling in the current financial crisis, and like most of us, liquidity is scarce. In general, hospitals have three sources of capital: equity from earnings, equity from donations, and long-term debt.

 

 

Equity from Earnings

Earnings generate cash, and a portion of that cash is available to fund capital investments. Besides funding capital investments, cash generated from earnings is used to fund working capital. As operations grow, more working capital is required to fund the difference between the operating receivables and operating payables since days of revenue in receivables tend to be a good deal higher than days of expense in payables. Additionally, cash on hand should increase as operations grow so that days of cash remain constant or increase. Once working capital has been adequately funded, any remaining cash generated from earnings is available to invest in capital.

Donations

Most not-for-profit hospitals engage in active fundraising to generate donations. Donations are a good source of capital in certain markets. Often, fundraising initiatives are less useful than they appear due to the costs expended in the fundraising activities. It is important to ensure that all the costs incurred in fundraising activities are properly attributed.

Long-Term Debt

Borrowing long-term debt has been an important source of capital for hospitals and will continue to be. Debt is particularly attractive due to the low cost associated with borrowing on a tax-exempt basis. Long-term debt, borrowed on a tax-exempt basis, is probably the lowest cost form of capital available to hospitals. Tax-exempt borrowing is fairly complex due to the tax regulations affecting it. Because of its complexity, the costs associated with these transactions are quite high, making it less practical for small borrowings.

Assessment

Tax-exempt borrowing transactions require many lawyers and high-priced investment bankers. Credit rating agencies and credit enhancers are also typically involved. Accessing the tax-exempt markets requires a good bit of sophistication and expertise. Despite these requirements, this capital is highly attractive to hospitals and should be used whenever possible.

Interview

Read: Dr. David Edward Marcinko’s recent interview on the current status of hospitals.

Link [unedited version]: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/medical-news-of-arkansas-interviews-dr-marcinko/?preview=true&preview_id=9094&preview_nonce=d9039cf076

Link [edited version]: http://www.arkansasmedicalnews.com/news.php?viewStory=738dem2

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. What is the financial status of your hospital, today? How has the cash flow crisis affected it; and your practice? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

 

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Appraising a Medical Practice

The “Art of the Deal” for Buyers and Sellers

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

Publisher-in-Chiefdem2

Are you considering selling your practice — or merging it with another? Thinking of buying? If you are, you’re hardly alone. Despite the decline of the big physician practice management companies [PPMCs] of the 1990s, the merger-and-acquisition market remains robust for small, private practices, as they respond to the continuing financial squeeze being placed on them, in 2009.

 

Read: http://www.humana.com/providers/NewsLetters/HumanaWeb1stQ07/articles/CoverStoryOne.html

Assessment

Humana’s YourPractice is a quarterly publication for office staff, physicians and other health care providers within the Humana network, and is produced by Corporate Communications in conjunction with “Physicians Practice”.

biz-book

Note: David Marcinko is also a writer for Physicians Practice 

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Health Care Uses for Twitter [Suggestions for Micro-Sharing]

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Health Care Should be the Leader in MicroSharing – Why isn’t It?

[By Staff Reporters]

According to by Phil Baumann, RN BSN; @ www.PhilBaumann.com

“Twitter may either be the greatest time wasting prank ever played on the internet community – or- it may be the best thing since sliced bread. It’s easy to make the first case if you read the public time-line for a few minutes. It’s a bit harder to make the second, but I’ll do my best to make it. Specifically, I’d like to take a stab at offering 140 health care uses for Twitter. Twitter’s simplicity of design, speed of delivery and ability to connect two or more people around the world provides a powerful means of communication, idea sharing and collaboration. There’s potency in the ability to burst out 140 characters, including a shortened URI. Could this power have any use in healthcare? After all, for example, doctors and nurses.” 

hipster

Assessment

Read the 23 page white-paper here:

Link: http://blogs.usask.ca/medical_education/archive/2009/02/140_healthcare.html

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Doctor – Are You on Your Way to $5.5 Million?

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Update 2015

[By Staff Reporters]

[Initially Published on September 16, 2008fp-book3]

As a physician, how much do you need in your retirement kitty to finance your golden years?

It was a vexing question when this article was first written by Physician’s Money Digest’s Editor-in-Chief, Gregory J. Kelly, and is an even more vexing dilemma in 2009. It is also one that most physicians tend to ignore; hence the reprint.

Assessment

And so, for those doctors curious about whether they’ll be living on Easy Street, or Skid Row, when they hang up their stethoscope, it helps to do some basic math and to review this link:

Read: http://www.hcplive.com/print.php?url=http://www.hcplive.com/publications/pmd/2005/95/4030

Channel Surfing the ME-P

Have you visited our other topic channels? Established to facilitate idea exchange and link our community together, the value of these topics is dependent upon your input. Please take a minute to visit. And, to prevent that annoying spam, we ask that you register. It is fast, free and secure.

More:

  1. More on the Doctor Salary Conundrum
  2. Doctor Salary v. Others [Present Value of Career Wealth]
  3. Are Doctors Members of the Middle Class?
  4. Taxing the [not so] Rich [doctors]
  5. Doctor – Are You on Your Way to $5.5 Million?

Conclusion

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Financial Planning MDs 2015

Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners(TM)

Dictionary of Health Economics and Finance

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Whither the Dictionary of Health Economics and Finance?

DHEF

A simple query that demands a cogent answer!

Medical professionals are struggling to maintain adequate income levels. While some specialties are flourishing, others like primary care barely moved forward, not even incrementally keeping up with inflation. In the words of Atul Gawande, MD, a former surgical resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and one of the best young medical writers in America,

“Doctors quickly learn that how much they make has little to do with how good they are. It largely depends on how they handle the business side of their practice”.

Therefore, the ability to decipher the alphabet soup of medical economics (i.e., OPHCOO, ALOS, DRG, RBRVS, behavioral health, acuity, etc), and understand those financial terms coming from clinical medicine (i.e., call premium, cost benefit ratios, IGARCH, AACPD, IBNR ABCM, internal rate of return, accounts receivable days outstanding, etc.) is vital for survival. Until we have a common language however, medical professionals cannot possess a shared vision, nor can we communicate successfully to create healthcare entities that provide quality care to patients and reasonable profits to medical practitioners.

We appreciate the support of our sponsors. So, click-on on the links below to review all dictionary products.

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Why Coding Professionals?

More on the NPI, the AAPC, Censorship and Quality Health Care

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

pruittFor those who have been following me recently on Twitter (Proots), you know that unlike me, John Hamm has not yet been kicked off of DrBicuspid, and is awaiting a response from Dr. David J. Pettigrew – a dental coding expert with 14 years of experience as Chief Dental Officer for BCBS of New Jersey. I can only shadow the conversation because, as I said, I was kicked off.

Through John Hamm, I sent word to Dr. Pettigrew that he should just shut up and not enter into a discussion about the NPI number. Pettigrew told Johnhamm that I should come onto the DrBicuspid forum and say that in front of everyone. Of course, I am unable to do that because as shameful as it is to my family, I am still banned from posting anything on DrBicuspid.

For real-time developments concerning Dr. Pettigrew’s public defense of the NPI number, it would be better to follow that chunk of drama on Twitter or DrBicuspid. I’ve got other things cooking here. Can you smell it yet?

As you can see, sports fans, I have had Internet contact with a new class of fat, slow-moving healthcare IT stakeholders, and I haven’t been building long-term relationships fortified by good will – if you know what I mean. 14 years of employment at BCBS of New Jersey fails to impress me much.

American Academy of Professional Coders

Those who have studied alphanumeric science have a national organization called the American Academy of Professional Coders [AAPC] which represents business consultants in a growing healthcare niche. Most are employed by providers who are too busy actually performing healthcare to play games with insurance companies for the money owed them. Like SEO professionals who know gimmicks to increase a client’s page rank in relation to competitors, or perhaps a bolus of bad news from a special bastard, professional coders maximize providers’ profits by keeping on top of the ever-changing hoops involved in paying doctors almost all that is owed them following a shorter than average delay.

ICD-10 is Coming 

Learning coding is job security these days because in a few years the mandated ICD-10 codes will force even dental offices to hire IT staff, which also cuts down on the nation’s unemployment. I’ve taken a peek at the ICD-10, and it makes the ICD-9 look like simple algebra. I’d stick with well-trained coding professionals. They’ll cost more but you do want to approach making a profit, don’t you?

Of Censorship

I submitted the following stinker to be posted on the AAPC Website. To their credit, it was posted almost immediately. That could be a good sign … OOPS! Several minutes later it went back under moderation. I think someone is having problems with it. You’ll have to read it to understand why. It’s tricky to let go of, yet if it remains posted, it looks like a concession. Some poor slob in the AAPC is in a bad position. I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am.

-Darrell

“A recent change to Medicare policy made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) helps ensure claims processing isn’t delayed when the only missing information on the CMS-1490S form is the provider or supplier’s National Provider Identifier (NPI).

CMS Transmittal 1747, Change Request 6434, issued May 22, notifies A/B Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC) and carriers of editorial changes to Medicare policy in Pub. 100-04, Medicare Claims Processing Manual, chapter 1 regarding the monitoring of claims submission violations and the handling of incomplete or invalid claims.

In either case, as stated in the transmittal, “If the beneficiary furnishes all other information but fails to supply the provider or supplier’s NPI, the contractor shall not return the claim but rather look up the provider or supplier’s NPI using the NPI registry.”

http://www.aapc.com/news/index.php/2009/06/missing-npi-no-reason-to-deny-says-cms/

“How does an NPI number improve patient care?”

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS – posted on AAPC Website, 6.4.09

Boxing Gloves I see that nobody from the American Academy of Professional Coders has yet attempted to answer my question. Some visitors to the AAPC Website who have followed the comments to the article “Missing NPI Won’t Delay Processing – CMS” (no byline) may think the lack of an answer is odd – that is if they happen to notice. The novice professional coder who still does not know much about HIPAA could easily assume that since the article itself is almost a week old, the lack of a response to my question is nothing more than the natural fading of interest. At some point, people logically move on to newer posts and other parts of their lives.

But I know a secret.

Based on nothing more than glaring silence from anonymous officials of AAPC, I know that my question of whether the NPI number improves care did not go unnoticed by a few knowledgeable and sharp individuals. They know enough not to touch a transparently trick question. The answer of course is:

The NPI number does nothing to improve patient care (Gasp!)

There’s more. Five years ago informatics experts (coders), promised that the ten digit identification number for providers will speed payments lightning fast. When is the last time you heard that fib? I cannot fault abundant optimism, AAPC, but by now you are surely aware that physicians have had to wait for a year or more for payment because of foul-ups at NPPES. Some have had to take out loans to pay the salaries of coding professionals and other new IT members of their staffs.

Improving Healthcare?

And as far as “improving” patient care? That would be worse than a fib. That would be called a harmful lie that upsets me in a very personal way. I know where it is documented that dental patients have been forced to leave dentists they preferred simply because one-third of the dentists in Texas do not have NPI numbers. BCBSTX requires that their clients only see dentists who have the numbers. Otherwise, the client has to pay their dental bill in full and BCBSTX isn’t even obligated to refund the employer the insurance premium. Yet BCBSTX sales reps tell these employers that their employees can see any Texas dentist they choose.

I’m sorry. Sometimes I ramble.

To keep it fair, I will ask if there is anyone who would like to point out the benefits of the NPI number. Your AAPC members and many others, including enthusiastic newbie coders, are interested in hearing from leaders of the organization. Many careers are built upon the complexities caused by digitalization and informatics. I don’t blame you for the complications. After all, you don’t make the rules – you just get along with them really well. It’s like our unavoidably complicated tax code and accountants. Accountants call themselves professionals. So why the hell shouldn’t you?

The Medical Executive-Post

Let me say that I am grateful that you believe enough in transparency that this comment remains posted. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone briefly considered deleting it until they discovered that it will be on the PennWell forum and probably on the Medical Executive-Post anyway. And of course, we can all see that you chose the honorable thing to do.

NPI Fallacy

The NPI fallacy reminds me of a scene in the Mike Judge movie “Idiocracy,” when a character 500 years in the future named Frito is asked why fields are fruitlessly irrigated with a politically-correct brand of green colored sports drink instead of water. Frito, who got his law degree from Costco, doesn’t even have to suffer minimal thought before he quickly repeats what he’s heard so many times, “’Cause it’s got ‘lectrolytes.”

Grnerod finds it incredible that I don’t have an NPI number. “How on earth are you billing and getting paid without an NPI?”

I told him (?) that I don’t work if I don’t get paid. Call me an old school radical.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. What are your feelings on the NPI situation? Does it really improve health care, or not? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Blogging Evolution of ME-P

Now a Group Publishing Platform

By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

[Executive Director]

Solo Man No Morewww.HealthcareFinancials.com, the Medical Executive-Post, has acquired a reputation as one of the most respected independent and investigative voices in the healthcare industrial and financial complex, today. And, we have been called an unbiased educator and leader in the latest medical management and technology trends, as well.

 

In the Beginning

Started in July 2007 and going “live” in October 2007, for most of our first year of existence, the ME-P was the almost exclusive domain of David Edward Marcinko. He published it under the auspices of iMBA Inc. But, a fortunate mix of increased consulting work, speaking engagements, teaching assignments www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com and aggregating industry definitions www.HealthDictionarySeries.com limited Dave’s time to write. Not to mention editing the third edition of our seminal print textbook in 2010, the Business of Medical Practice http://www.springerpub.com/prod.aspx?prod_id=23759; and keeping our quarterly premium, institutional e- journal Healthcare Organizations [Journal of Financial Management Strategies] www.HealthcareFinancials.com evolving; he is a busy guy … indeed.

Visits and Membership

Moreover, the growth of ME-P readership from a few each day to over 25,000 visits in January 2009, with the interest of other people in writing for us, has all meant that there will be less of Dave going forward and more of the many new [free-labor] authors we are recruiting for our ME-P readers.

And so, in June 2009, the ME-P officially became a participatory bog in which most authors (including Dave) will use their own bylines.

Our Material

The ME-P publishes mainly original material from many contributors (regular, or not) with links and permitted reprints, and with updates for modernity from our repository of electronic archives. Our style is prose, formal or informal, news, journalistic and/or investigative repotage with a hint of insider gossip. If you are interested in writing for us, take a look at our writer’s guidelines on the left side bar page. Consider entering our writing contest, too.

Managing Editor

Hope Hetico is the managing editor and handles business development. Requests for information about advertising should go to Edward. Ann Miller; is our Executive Director for all other concerns. With a flat-organizational structure, our email address remains the same for all of us: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

Assessment

And, although Dave is not sure whether he should be happy or chagrined, we hope that readership will again double by the end of 2009.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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Essential Insights on Successful Physician Budgeting

fp-book5Special Report for all Medical Professionals

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA

What: A Special Report Prepared upon the Request of “Podiatry Today”

Who: Dr. David E Marcinko and Hope Rachel Hetico; MHA

 

Topic: Essential Insights on Successful Budgeting

Reporter: Jeffrey Hall [Editor “Podiatry Today” Magazine]

Where: Internet Ether

Although some doctors might view a budget as unnecessarily restrictive, sticking to a spending plan can be a useful tool in enhancing the wealth of a medical practice. These authors emphasize keys to smart budgeting and how to track spending and savings in these tough economic times. The universal applicability to all doctors is obvious.

Read the Report Here

Link: http://www.podiatrytoday.com/essential-insights-on-successful-budgeting

Conclusion

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My Favorite Health 2.0 Experience from the Exam Room

HIT From the Trenches

By Hayward Zwerling; MD

Doctors and ComputersI was in the exam room talking to a patient, who I am treating for hyperthyroidism. The patient complained of profound fatigue, of several months duration. It was unclear if the problem was being addressed by the PCP. While talking to the patient, I reviewed all his labs which were in ComChart EMR. There was nothing obviously wrong.

A True Story – July 07, 2006 

From within the exam room, and while still talking to the patient, I connected to my hospital’s computer and download all his labs which were less than 1 year old. I then had ComChart file the labs into his ComChart chart. I then had ComChart EMR create a chart of all his CBCs by clicking the “Chart … CBC” button in the labs. It was obvious that his hematocrit had dropped precipitously sometime between January and March.

The PC computer I was using had Skype installed (a free program which allows you to make free telephone calls from your computer.) I also have a headset attached to this computer, which I use with Dragon NaturalSpeech Medical. While still in the exam room, and from within ComChart EMR, I clicked the “PCP” button in the patient’s Progress Note and a dialog box popped up and asked “Do you want to go to the Dr. XXX’s Addresses file?” I selected “yes.” I then clicked on the label “private,” which is in front of the physician’s “private” phone number. ComChart opened Skype and connected the call. I spoke with the PCP and I arranged for the patient to see the PCP the following day.

I then click the “orders” button and selected my “anemia work-up” panel. This created a lab order slip which included all the necessary blood tests. I choose the option “Send copy of results to … PCP” and then clicked the button “Fax order slip” to lab.

Contemporaneous Progress Notes

Finally, in front of the patient, I dictated a Progress Note, using Dragon NaturalSpeech 8 Medical. The resultant Progress Note included the chart of the patient’s CBCs. I then selected the PCP as the recipient, and clicked the button “Create queued fax.” In my office, I have one computer which continually sends out the “queued faxes” as soon as they are created. Thus, the PCP had received a copy of the Progress Note and the lab had received the lab order slip even before the patient left my exam room. The entire process occurred within a few minutes.

Assessment

Needless to say, that patient was impressed that my office was able to use technology in order to efficiently advance their healthcare. And, the fact that it all happened in front of the patient, seem to reassure the patient and de-mistify the healthcare delivery process.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Send us your own favorite Health 2.0 story. And, if you want a picture with your comment, send in a .jpeg or go get a gravatar! Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Credit Card Acceptance in Medical Practice

One-third of Physician Practices Not Accepting CCs

By Staff ReportersGold Coins

The Physician Office Credit-Card Acceptance Survey, by SK&A Information Services, an Irvine, Califironia based provider of healthcare information solutions and research, suggests physician practices are limiting credit card [cc] payments because patients are being adversely affected by high interest rates, maxed out credit limits and a more challenging ability to qualify for unsecured credit.

Assessment

Read this report in HealthcareFinance News, on May 29 2009, by Richard Pizzi,

http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/one-third-physician-practices-do-not-accept-credit-card-payments

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Do our physician ME-P readers accept CCs? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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The Power of “ME Inc” for Physicians

Embracing a New Competitive Practice Culture

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]dem21

There are more than 900,000 physicians in the United States. Yet, the brutal supply/demand/demographic calculus of the matter is that there are just too many aging patients chasing too few doctors. Compensation and reimbursement is plummeting as Uncle Sam becomes the payer-of-choice for more than 52% of us. And, the government as payer will likely increase with the Obama Administration. So, going forward, it is not difficult to imagine the following four rules for a new-wave competitive medical care culture for all physicians.

[A] Rule No. 1

Forget about large office suites, surgery centers, fancy equipment and the bricks and mortar that comprised traditional medical practices. One doctor with a great idea, good bedside manner or competitive advantage, can outfox a slew of CPAs, while still serving the public and making money. It’s a unit-of-one healthcare economy where “ME Inc.”, is the standard and physicians must maneuver for advantages that boost their standing and credibility among patients and payers. Examples include patient satisfaction surveys, the rise of evidence-based medicine; outcomes research analysis, concierge medicine, direct reimbursement payment plans, and economic credentialing; etc.

 [B] Rule No. 2

Challenge conventional wisdom, think outside the traditional payer box, recapture your dreams and ambitions, disregard conventional gurus and work harder – and smarter – than you have ever worked before. Remember the old saying, “if everyone is thinking alike, then nobody is thinking”. Do insurance panel members think rationally or react irrationally?

However, you should realize the power of networking, vertical integration and the establishment of virtual medical practices, which come together to treat a patient, and then disband when a successful outcome achieved. Job security in this structure is achieved with successful outcomes, and perhaps not necessarily a degree in the near future. Medical futurists even presume the establishment of virtual medical schools and hospitals, where students and doctors learn and practice their art on cyber-entities that look and feel like real patients, but are generated electronically through the wonders of virtual reality units.

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

HOFMS

[C] Rule No 3

Differentiate yourself among your medical peers. Do or learn something new and unknown by your competitors. Market your accomplishments and let the world know. Be a non-conformist. The conformity of health insurance plans are an operational standard and a straitjacket on creativity. Doctors should create and innovate, not blindly follow entrenched medical society leaders into oblivion. Seek, and practice, health 2.0 collaboration with all stakeholders.

[D] Rule No 4

Realize that the present situation is not necessarily the future. Attempt to see the future and discern your place in it. Master the art of the quick change and fast but informed decision making. Do what you love, disregard what you don’t, and let the fates have their way with you. Then, decide for yourself if health plans adhere to any of the above rules?

AssessmentKung Fu

Regardless of the future de facto business model of the learned profession of medicine, current practice models are no longer the structure of choice. Rather, a more laissez-faire and highly competitive business model should be pursuedPhysicians have been slow to accept this philosophy.  Remember, as a physician, if you merely want a static job with promised security, pledged retirement benefits, limited goals and structured regulations; join a health plan panel and become their laborer.

However, if you desire more, such as the possibility of a dynamic career, the unlimited security of your brainpower, non-defined retirement contributions, infinite potential with rules you can create along the way; incorporate the power of ME, Inc., in everything you do. Remain a competitive professional and be a physician ... Get fly! 

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Medical Risk Management: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421

Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details       

Product Details  Product Details

   Product Details 

Interview with Jack Levy of Securebill, Inc

President – Securebill, IncMeeting

What: An Interview and Special Report Exclusively Prepared for the ME-P
Who: Mr. Jack Levy, CISSP [President – Securebill, Inc]
Topic: Physician Selection of eHRs
Reporter: Amaury Cifuentes; CFP®
Where: Internet Ether

Although skeptics of eHRs abound, President Barack H. Obama’s signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA] of 2009 has created a massive push for their implementation. The Act provides $19.2 billion, including $17.2 billion for financial incentives to be administered by Medicare and Medicaid. This assistance of up to $40 to $65 thousand per eligible physician, and up to $11 million per hospital, begins in 2011.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/jack-levy-interview.pdf

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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Events Planner: June 2009

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Events-Planner: JUNE 2009Conference Table Setting

“Keeping track of important health economics and financial industry meetings, conferences and summits”

Welcome to this issue of the Medical Executive-Post and our Events-Planner. It contains the latest information on conferences and relevant resources in healthcare finance, economics, research and development, business management, pharmaceuticas, IT and reimbursement!  Watch for a new Events-Planner each month.

First, a little about us! The Executive-Post is still a newcomer. But today, we have almost 20,000 visitors and readers each month from all over the country, in addition to our growing subscriber base. We have been a successful collaborative effort, thanks to your contributions.  As a result, we are adding new resources daily.  And, we hope the website continues to provide the best place to go for journals, books, conferences, educational resources, tools, and other things you need to establish the value your healthcare consulting and financial advisory intervention. And so, enjoy the Executive-Post and our monthly Events-Planner with our compliments.  

A Look Ahead this Month

June 1: Print Edition Healthcare Journalism: If you would like to “step-up-your-game” and be considered as a peer-reviewed contributor to the third print edition of: The Business of Medical Practice [Health 2.0 Profit Maximizing Techniques for Savvy Doctors]; contact Ann at: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com. There are several chapter topics still available. Now, the important dates:

June 1: National Medicare Re-Admissions Summit, HCCA, Washington, DC.

June 2-6: NAPFA National Conference, Gaylord Resorts, National Harbor, MD.

June 3: America’s Health Insurance Plans Institute, San Diego, CA.

June 3-5: Pershing Financial Solutions, Westin Diplomat, Hollywood, FLA.

June 4-5: Government Health IT Conference, Washington, DC.

June 5: Pacific N-W Regional Conf, Healthcare Compliance Assoc, Seattle, WA.

June 8-17: Annual Medicaid Managed Care Conference, Baltimore, MD.

June 16: Executive Form on Value Based Benefits, Minneapolis, MN.

June 24: Medicare Compliance Seminar Agent Commissions-Part D F& A, Balto, MD.

June 26: Health Care Compliance Association Conference, Los Angeles, CA. 

Please send in your meetings and dates for listing in the next issue of our Events-Planner.

MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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