Falling Leaves and Fall Temperatures: Keeping Healthy

Fall is just around the corner! Whether it’s enjoying holidays with loved ones, cheering on your favorite sports teams, or spending quiet evenings watching the leaves fall outside your window, it’s important to keep focused on health and wellness as the seasons begin to change. Below are a few things that will keep you and your family well through the autumn months.

  • Wash your hands frequently. Exposure to lower temperatures can lower the body’s defenses, and hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of germs that can cause illness. Best practices are to use soap and warm water, and to lather for 20 seconds.
  • Get vaccinated. As flu season nears, it’s good to be protected against common communicable diseases. Vaccines against the year’s most common strains of germs can help to ward off pesky illnesses.
  • Take care of your body. Proper nutrient and fluid intake throughout the day can keep the body running efficiently. Try to stay hydrated throughout the day, sipping water as often as possible; nutrient-dense foods will fuel the body and allow the immune system to function at its best.
  • Get moving. Colder months shouldn’t hinder exercise. Take advantage of a walk in the midday sun, even if it means wearing a few extra layers. Move about the house. Rake the leaves. Even a few minutes of activity every day will provide a range of health-enhancing benefits to the body.

As you can see, it doesn’t take a lot to keep healthy as the leaves fall from the trees. Keeping germs out and keeping yourself happy and healthy will feel great; it’ll also leave you free to enjoy the beauty and festivities of the coming months!

Secondary Insurance can overcome a major payment hurdle for Chronic Care Management Reimbursement

Despite initial enthusiasm for being paid for non-face-to-face care-coordination activities under CPT Code 99490, participation in formal chronic care management (CCM) is taking longer for physicians to adopt than originally anticipated. One of the reasons that are often cited is that the physicians aren’t comfortable asking the patient for the $8 monthly copay that is required for the activity.  

This should not be as large of a concern, or a barrier to a physician adoption for CCM services for two reasons:

  1. Many Medicare patients have supplement plans that will pay for this copay
  2. Many caregivers of qualified patients are thrilled with the concept that they will have some assistance with the care of their loved-one and are happy to make the payment

Admittedly, there will always be patients who don’t have supplementary plans or a willingness to pay out of pocket if they don’t, but this is no reason to not offer the care to patients that qualify and then give them the choice.

Paquin Healthcare’s iRemedyRemote platform helps alleviate much of the cost burden for monitoring patients remotely – one of the qualifying elements for 99490 – helping physicians increase their ROI for the time spent for these activities

How OTC Healthcare Purchases and eCommerce can change the Healthcare Landscape

Consumers are rapidly changing the way they access healthcare products and services. The utilization of OTC devices and tests has exploded and it is taking business from the health practitioner (who is already facing reimbursement cuts and increased expenses). Patients will now regularly and more commonly purchase items like pregnancy tests, HIV tests, proton pump inhibitors, strep tests, allergy tests, UTI tests etc. at their local pharmacy or supermarket and self-diagnose. If the tests prove positive, they see their physician for prescribed treatment, if they don’t, they will acknowledge the result and simply move-on or possibly treat their condition without physician interaction.

On top of items like test kits, the explosion in digital devices is providing additional threats to patient care maintenance and further reducing physician involvement. Items such as Fitbit, iHealth, Withings, Healthkit are all providing new opportunities for self-driven care. Paquin Healthcare is not alone in forecasting that patients and consumers are going to purchase these items with or without physician involvement. It is, however, our view that a partnership between a physician and their patient can be beneficial in guiding patients to the best OTC option for their individual care.

 Paquin Healthcare’s eCommerce platform enables a physician to e-prescribe retail type products such as test kits and digital devices that are best suited for each patient – thereby ensuring the patient knows exactly which product the physician recommends for them. The benefit to the physician is that they directly profit from the sale of the product and as the item is fulfilled by Paquin, there is no inventory or shipping hassle once the recommendation has been made.

Liability concerns of Remote Patient Monitoring and ‘what happens if’?

I. A reading indicates that something is wrong with the patient; my office doesn’t see it and an adverse event occurs?
II. A device isn’t working properly and readings aren’t accurately being recorded?
III. The patient isn’t taking their vital signs as prescribed and experiences an adverse event?
IV. There is a data breach?

Liability risk is always an overarching concern for physicians and the uncertainty of these risks and what might arise by including remote patient monitoring in their practice is no exception.

There are several ways to treat and consider this risk for your practice:

The first is to ignore it, which is probably not a viable or smart option for the type of physicians that are reading this article. On this point however, it is important to note that large institutional bodies such as the American Medical Association have actively supported the use of digital healthcare tools to reduce inefficiencies in health care delivery, improve patient access, lower costs and increase quality of care. Further, a large number of very large medical institutions and insurance plans have been conducting remote patient monitoring programs for very sick patients across the country for several years and found ways to mitigate/overcome this concern.

The second, and probably most productive way to address the litigation risk is to put steps into place that will mitigate them. These steps should include:

1. Information: Ensure that you are always aware of FDA recalls, manufacturer’s warnings, the devices safety record etc. The difficulty of this is that it this places a large burden on the provider who is already busy seeing patients and does not have the time or inclination to ensure that they are always aware of the latest news on each device. In recognizing this as an opportunity, Paquin has stepped in and takes on these responsibilities. Doctors can be comfortable knowing that by utilizing Paquin’s iRemedyRemote platform it will stay up to date on the latest information for each of the devices registered for their software, including manufacturer’s warnings, the device’s safety record, and the device’s approved uses. Paquin will also ensure it is always aware and responsive to any FDA alerts or recalls.

2. Alert fatigue: This occurs when there is an overwhelming number of alerts that indicate a patient is not within their threshold range for vital signs and they become so common that staff members begin to ignore, override, or disable them. It is important that a protocol be put in place that anytime an alert or a potential patient problem is ignored, the reason for that decision is documented. Fortunately, Paquin’s iRemedyRemote software has the ability to record notes at each instance within the patients file.

3. Patient Selection: Successful remote patient monitoring is dependent on each patient’s motivation to actively manage his or her health, as well as the patient’s ability to understand and use the technology, as such, patients who are not tech-savvy are likely not be good candidates for remote monitoring. However, this is quickly becoming less of an issue as both devices become easier and more intuitive to uses and an increasing number of the population migrate to smartphones.

To help ensure patients effectively use remote patient monitoring, they should be:

  • Educated on how to use the device with an explanation of the treatment plan which might include things like the times the device will be monitored and how alerts will be handled by the healthcare team
  • Able to identify what device failure or malfunction looks like, and what the patient should do if that happens
  • Instructed on how to properly maintain the device
  • Recognizing this is not within the realm of expertise for physician practices, Paquin provides customer service, training and instruction to patients as part of their service

 

4. Complete and document an informed consent process with the patient

5. Ensure that all data is being transferred in a HIPAA compliant environment – which is yet another aspect of the iRemedyRemote software

Why doctors are excited about extricating themselves from the Medical Supply behemoths of McKesson, Cardinal and others

There seems to be frequent news articles about the consolidation of medical suppliers. It isn’t surprising as cost containment and the need to be more competitive has spawned larger buying groups and mega-corporations that seek lower procurement costs through scale. The problem is, these lower costs aren’t being passed along to buyers; companies like McKesson and Cardinal have a bloated, inefficient sales network and as such, physicians’ offices are being forced to pay higher costs than necessary, for their medical supplies, to cover these costs.

Along with the narrowing of distribution channels, the choice of products offered is shrinking as “sole-source” and “preferred-provider” contracts undermine choice. Hundreds of smaller medical supply manufacturers are unable to get their products to market through conventional channels which means that physicians will never see better or cheaper options. Larger companies have also expressed frustration with similar issues within lower-volume product lines that are unrelated to their core businesses. It is no longer a case of an effective product providing enough of an impetus for a company to reach its ultimate customer. It now also needs expensive marketing and promotional campaigns which add to the end cost of the product.

We talk to doctors on a daily basis and identified this market segment as one that is ripe for more efficient distribution through an ecommerce driven distribution channel. This isn’t rocket science, but in the last decade or more, B2B distribution, via ecommerce, has completely redefined other market segments and is finally coming to the medical supply sector. The types of savings that are being experienced by physicians’ offices clients of Paquin has been in the range of ten to twenty percent and equals tens of thousands of dollars per year – all by replicating what other sectors have been doing for a while now. The ability for clients to simply and easily order their medical supplies online with full price transparency as well as electronic reporting seems so simple, yet isn’t currently available from the industry giants – who still often use paper invoices to record their purchases.

With the likes of Amazon entering the business supply space and groups like Paquin shaking up the medical supply distribution channel, it will be interesting to see how long it takes the industry giants to catch up, if they are able – with competitors like Amazon out there, it won’t be an easy feat.

Secondary Insurance can overcome a major payment hurdle for Chronic Care Management Reimbursement

Despite initial enthusiasm for being paid for non-face-to-face care-coordination activities under CPT Code 99490, participation in formal chronic care management (CCM) is taking longer for physicians to adopt than originally anticipated. One of the reasons that are often cited is that the physicians aren’t comfortable asking the patient for the $8 monthly copay that is required for the activity.

This should not be as large of a concern, or a barrier to a physician adoption for CCM services for two reasons:

  1. Many Medicare patients have supplement plans that will pay for this copay
  2. Many caregivers of qualified patients are thrilled with the concept that they will have some assistance with the care of their loved-one and are happy to make the payment

Admittedly, there will always be patients who don’t have supplementary plans or a willingness to pay out of pocket if they don’t, but this is no reason to not offer the care to patients that qualify and then give them the choice.

Paquin Healthcare’s iRemedyRemote platform helps alleviate much of the cost burden for monitoring patients remotely – one of the qualifying elements for 99490 – helping physicians increase their ROI for the time spent for these activities

How Remote Patient Monitoring can help you reap Chronic Care Management Reimbursement

Many doctors across the country are turning down the money attached to $42.60 Chronic Care Management (CCM) CPT Code 99490, saying the time and cost of setting up systems to meet the code’s “onerous” requirements make it not worth the relatively small amount Medicare pays. However, those physicians who have successfully implemented CCM services are praising the payment as “a game changer,” despite the upfront workload required to reach compliance.

Many of the doctors who are unable to see a way to overcome the compliance hurdle haven’t realized the availability of systems – at low to no cost – that will easily help them reach Medicare’s minimum 20 minute time requirement (one of the biggest complaints that are heard). The iRemedyRemote platform is available at no cost to physician practices and automatically records the time spent reviewing patient vital statistics, which qualifies as ‘time spent’ for CCM reimbursement.