Archive for February, 2013

Time is money: minimize visits when electronic communication suffices

February 11, 2013

At the beginning of the 20th century, doctors debated whether to charge for telephone consultations.
In an era where the general practitioner led the medical effort, most medical societies voted not to charge.
Today, HIPPA safeguards and payment policies of government and insurance companies encourage doctors (many who are small business people) to require office visits to share information rather than speak on the telephone to patients.
With new technologies and the spread of remote physician contact, this trend seems to be counterproductive.
As the shortage of doctors is expected to be heightened as Obamacare kicks in, the question of how best to utilize physicians’ time will become more acute.
New payment rules and rates are driving doctors to find additional ways of being paid for their services.
The use of nurse practitioners and other support personnel is growing.
However, this trend puts the doctor further away from the patient.
Equally as important, this takes up more time from the patient.
To take time from work to go to a physician’s office to learn the results of an X-ray, scan or test results; this impacts not only the patient but his or her employer.
In a recent Information Strategies, Inc. survey, small business leaders raised this issue as one of growing concern.
Said one small business owner, “last week, two of my people went to their doctor on company time to find out their reports were negative and no further visits were required.
Both could have been told this on the phone.”
From the physicians’ point of view, that was two additional visits that could be billed to the insurance company.
Perhaps it is time, the whole question of payment for remote visits/telephone consultations or other electronic contact should be addressed.