Letter from the President

Spring is upon us!  After navigating the past 12 months, I am ready for spring cleaning and a fresh start!  This recovery feels so drawn out and gradual; I don’t believe it is delivering the impact for which we all yearn.  It still feels like one step forward and two steps back.  Nonetheless, progress is being made, no matter the speed. 

One theme that seems to permeate every conversation among colleagues is that “Covid weariness” is a real thing.  Concentration on the patient experience has always been an important focus, but even more so now than ever before.  How do you improve the experience for a patient population who wants what they want when they want it, when you can’t fulfill that demand?  They don’t want excuses; they want action!  Rational thought and reasoning makes no difference; just make it happen--yesterday.  As we assign staff to reschedule patients who were delayed, reschedule and delay other patients due to Covid related issues, and continue to accommodate the patients calling for care daily, what kind of an impact does that have on staff?  Encouraging smiling through the frustration, attacking problems not people, urging staff and providers to focus on the positives, do not be discouraged, AND…. remember to accommodate all of the patient’s wishes when possible.  A perfect prescription for “burnout”!  I am not speaking only of clinical staff.  It is important to remember that frontline, non-medical staff, have to fend off a great deal of negative energy from all sides.  I have long said those staff members are the wait staff/hostess/bartenders for our organizations.  Perhaps the best way to improve our patient experience is to shift focus to improve our employee experience; don’t forget about addressing our own burnout issues. 

“Physician heal thyself.”  What? You don’t have all of the answers?  You are unsure how to support everyone through these challenging times?  Why not consider attending our Spring Practice Operations Workshop being held April 13th and 14th?  We have a session addressing both burnout and employee experience.  We offer a Washington update straight from National MGMA.  Add in a coding update, a session on legal issues of hiring and firing, and a timely session on Value-Based Care. All in all six sessions over two days.  Only three hours per day from 11 am to 2 pm.   If you can’t attend those sessions we always offer monthly webinar’s, free to members.  When you join Pennsylvania MGMA, a colleague, resource, friend is only a click away.  All of that can help to combat your own burnout. 

Include Pennsylvania MGMA in your “plan of care” for curing Covid weariness.   We can all support each other as we work together to come out on the other side of this “long Covid winter”.   Spring is finally here—let’s welcome it with open arms!  #PAMGMA CARES

Traci Evans, FACMPE
Pennsylvania MGMA, President

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Manual Tasks Office Managers Can Do Away With

By: Tolu Ajiboye, RXVantage - [SPONSORED]

As an office manager, your task list is endless. You have to manage appointment scheduling, patient intake, billing, and so much more. On top of this, you have to ensure that these specific processes —and the practice operations as a whole— are continuously optimized to cut costs and grow the practice. Accordingly, you're likely on the lookout for ways you can replace manual processes with more efficient, technology-driven ones.  

Here's a list of manual tasks you don't have to handle anymore:

Paper-based patient intake

Manual, paper-based patient intake processes are energy and time inefficient. They require manual (and sometimes double) entry of patient information. They also increase the likelihood of errors making it onto your system.

Instead, you can get online intake forms automatically sent to patients ahead of their appointments. The forms can collect demographic information, insurance details, payment information, and so much more. This helps save time, reduce errors and improve the patient experience. What's more, Many technology solutions allow you to customize the type of information you want patients to fill out, to suit your practice's needs

Alternatively, you can set up check-in 'kiosks' in your practice's waiting room that serve the same function. They could, for example, be iPads loaded with software that collects demographic information. And patients can use them to check-in while waiting to see the doctor.

Manual rep visit management

If your practice regularly meets with life science reps to gain new information about therapies and patient programs, advanced technology can help you eliminate manual tasks. You no longer have to expend time and energy on scheduling meetings via calls or email, tracking visit history, or communicating practice protocol. Platforms like RxVantage allow you to automate these processes while retaining complete control over your interactions with the life science community. The platform also goes further to provide you with insights that help guarantee the continued relevance and productivity of your meetings with life science reps.

Patient feedback requests

Collecting patient feedback after visits is essential to improving the practice's operations and service delivery. It allows you to measure how successful the steps you're taking to enhance the patient experience are. But what if you didn't have to obtain this feedback verbally or through paper forms (which you then have to type out and organize)? Instead, you could use automation software to send out surveys in emails to patients right after their appointment ends. With it, no opportunity for feedback slips through the cracks because you forgot to ask for it. These software types also often have the functionality to extract and present the patient feedback in easily digestible and actionable summaries or reports.

Extra tip: Your role is central to the practice's success, and this guarantees that you will always have a lot on your plate. So you should definitely use technology to lighten your workload as much as you can. But be careful not to replace these manual tasks all at once. Do it bit by bit, and see how patients and staff respond to the changes.

About RxVantage
RxVantage is an online platform that seamlessly connects medical practices to the precise life science experts and resources needed, exactly when and where they are needed. We are excited to sponsor one of the sessions during the upcoming Pennsylvania MGMA Innovative Medical Practice Management Operations Workshop.

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 Value of Membership

  • Leading analysts, experienced practice executives and industry suppliers discuss relevant practice issues
  • Enriched educational content from within the accredited American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE) management skill-set
  • Leadership development through your contribution on the Board of Directors and/or Committees
  • Network and Collaborate, with your peers at regional events
  • Understanding emerging technology and applications to efficiently and effectively manage medical care and improve patient satisfaction
  • Listserv for you to share challenges and successes with healthcare leaders
  • 24/7 Access to the online Practice Resources and the MGMA Washington Connection
  • Complimentary registration to 12 webinars on current topics to benefit your practice
  • Advocacy on legislative issues and regulatory compliance
  • Participation in practice staff compensation survey

Membership in Pennsylvania MGMA is a rolling 12-months. You can enroll as an Individual, Affiliate, Faculty or Student member.

For practices which want to enroll in our Organizational Membership: Benefits include everything afforded to General members and:

  1. Discounted Dues - The more individuals you enroll as members, the higher the discount on membership dues;
  2. Transferability – If a member leaves the organization, the membership can be transferred to another individual who is affiliated with the organization; and
  3. E-Z Billing - One consolidated invoice for membership renewal.

Join PA MGMA Now!

The Collections Industry Inflection Point: How AI is Driving Change 

By: Steve Kusic, CEO of National Recovery Agency and EBO Solutions

In an industry where you’re constantly finding a balance between empathy and profitability, the circumstances of 2020 have made our work more challenging than ever. With consumer debt skyrocketing, we’ve found ourselves in a unique position: striving to manage unprecedented call volume while balancing both the agent and customer experience.

What I’ve come to realize over the past few months is that digital initiatives that were once on the sidelines are now unavoidable. We’ve reached a turning point where technology—AI and automation in particular—have become essential to the way we do business.

For many, this realization isn’t an easy one. There’s a certain uneasiness associated with investing in technology that will transform the foundation of your business. In collections, contact centers are the focal point of operations, making any investment in this area both high risk and high reward. It’s natural to start asking questions: Will AI get the job done right? Will it frustrate my customers? Will it add stress to employees who are already stretched thin?

This year, our company made the leap; we invested in an AI-powered Virtual Collection Agent (VCA) for our contact centers. I was hesitant at first, but throughout this process I’ve come to realize and appreciate the impact AI will have on not just us but on the industry as a whole. It’s no longer an accessory or moonshot idea, it’s a catalyst for driving the collections industry forward. Here’s why:

AI can be your best agent at scale (and make your best agents even better)

One of the most powerful aspects of our new VCA, which is powered by Interactions, is that it’s advanced enough to operate like our best employee at scale.

The factors that contribute to any human performing at their absolute best are varied and vast. That’s what makes AI indispensable; it will never wake up on the wrong side of the bed. It always shows up and performs, quite literally, to the best of its ability. This consistency is key to operational efficiency.

On top of that, a virtual agent can also offload transactional conversations, like sorting out wrong party contacts, from human agents, eliminating the need to hire additional workers to handle spikes in non-revenue generating calls. Meanwhile, shielding humans from these monotonous, sometimes frustrating conversations can boost their productivity and reduce churn—a persistent challenge in the collections space. With an AI-powered coworker, agents can focus on serving customers that need support in handling complex matters, driving profit while helping consumers ease financial pressures.

Customers often prefer to work with a virtual agent

Beyond the clear impact on operational efficiency, there have been a number of studies showing the benefits of AI on customers. A recent Interactions survey found that one in four U.S. consumers prefer interacting with a virtual agent when dealing with uncomfortable financial information, and 70% of them are okay with bypassing a human agent when discussing personal finances.

When sensitive conversations comprise the bulk of contact center calls, research like this can’t be ignored. We have to take into consideration the various possibilities for adjusting communications with customers to reach solutions that meet their individual needs.

Security concerns can be yesterday’s problem

Importantly, and unlike conversations with humans, every interaction with a virtual agent is pre-defined and follows a specific flow that’s compliant with our industry’s various regulations.

If you consider the regulations at play in collections, such as the FDCPA regulating call times, the TCPA requiring expression of prior consent, or the FCRA regulating data collection, there’s an enormous amount of complexity involved in each customer call. All of these policies are critical to the sanctity of our work, and failing to meet any one of them can be detrimental to collections agencies and the customers we serve. But with a virtual assistant pre-programmed to adhere to these guidelines, security concerns due to “slip ups” can become a thing of the past.

While I can’t predict the future, I know the three primary challenges our industry faces—operational efficiency, customer experience and security—aren’t going anywhere. Knowing AI & automation can help address these obstacles brings the industry to an inflection point; and you won’t want to be on the other side of the curve. 

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About the Author

Steve Kusic

Steve has been involved with National Recovery Agency since 1985 and currently holds the position of Chief Executive Officer.  Beginning his career more than 28 years ago in his family’s collection business, Steve has a strong background and understanding of collection procedures and techniques, along with his knowledge of the various collection laws that govern collections and regulatory compliance.  He has significant experience and expertise in all facets of operations, call center activity, quality control, contracts, marketing, finance, and debt purchasing.

What worked then won’t work now – the on-going evolution of IT security

By: Justin Krentz, Senior Account Manager, Vertical Solutions

With the continued emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), the landscape by which we access and consume information continues to be transformed. For those of you unfamiliar with this team, Internet of Things describes the network of physical objects (i.e., “things”) that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet. This refers to everything from refrigerators with built-in internet connectivity to medical devices that transmit data to the digital picture frame sitting on your desk.  While a lot of these emerging technologies are new and exciting, with them comes a much greater security risk.  Unfortunately for most, few have maintained an even pace with their security posture to match the increase in device connectivity and access to critical systems.

Current projections cite that over the next 3 years, we will nearly double the amount of total connected devices in use. So, what does that mean from an IT security standpoint? In its simplest terms, it means more opportunities for bad actors to gain access to your network.  We must adjust how we think of our IT security and understand how critical it has become to not only our systems, but also patient care. Given the value patient data poses on the black market, Healthcare organizations need to be even more diligent in their evaluation of processes, systems, and organizational behaviors to identify any gaps.           

Protecting patient data is patient safety and must be approached with the same level of care and attention to detail.  While most organizations focus has been on the COVID-19, hackers have used the pandemic as an opportunity to increase attacks and become more creative in their pursuit of access to sensitive data.  Rather than just assuming your IT department (or outsourced IT partner) is properly protecting you from these attacks, here is a list of 10 questions you should be asking IT leadership:

  1. Can we confirm all devices in our network have the proper security software installed and are receiving updates?
  2. Are we using multi-factor authentication to ensure login requests are valid?
  3. Are we using a mobile device management software that allows us to remotely lock, wipe and secure mobile devices?
  4. What is our backup/disaster recovery plan and is it tested?
  5. Are all devices on an operating system that is currently supported?
  6. Is our critical information encrypted?
  7. Who has administrative access in our environment?
  8. What is our password policy?
  9. How are we training our employees to recognize security threats?
  10. How often are we evaluating our security posture?

As the way we access and consume information continues to change, healthcare organizations will only see the target on their back get larger and larger.  To reduce exposure, organizations must seek out subject matter experts, coordinate recurring meetings with your IT leadership, , understand IoT and how it will affect your network security, and adjust as needed.  Whatever you do, do not remain complacent.   

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About the Author

Justin Krentz

Justin Krentz is a Senior Account Manager with Vertical Solutions whose main responsibilities include account management, operations and new business development . His experience spans 12 years of selling managed services and comprehensive technology solutions to small and mid-sized businesses, with a primary focus in the healthcare sector. 

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