Why patient engagement will only rise in importance

From massive medical centers in the heart of major urban areas to small hospitals in rural areas well off the Interstate Highway System, there exists, in one form or another, a patient engagement initiative. Reflective of that are the 1,100 job openings that returned when I typed in “patient engagement” in the Jobs search box on LinkedIn.

Finding ways to engage with patients makes all kinds of sense in this day of high deductible health plans. More of the healthcare dollar must now come from what is increasingly someone referred to as a healthcare consumer. And that consumer is involved in healthcare in more ways than financial responsibility.

Since 1990, average life expectancy in the United States has increased from 71.8 to 76.4 years for men, and 77.8 to 81.2 years for women. During that same period, the uninsured rate has dropped from 13.9 percent to 9.1 percent. And the number of physician visits is increasing at a rate faster than this country’s population growth.

The three questions CFOs should ask their RCM partners

With pressure mounting to cut costs and improve finances, about 81 percent of hospital leaders have made outsourcing financial services a top priority. But cost-to-collect is not the only metric financial leaders should monitor in their revenue cycle service partnerships.

Tom Furr, CEO and founder of Durham, N.C.-based PatientPay, shared with Becker's Hospital Review critical questions he recommends CFOs ask revenue cycle service providers to ensure both return on investment and optimal financial efficiency.

HIPAA turns 20, and there’s no reason to celebrate

In 1996, The Spice Girls were at the top of the pop music charts. DVDs had just been launched. The number of Internet host computers increased from 1 million to 10 million. And the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed into law.

Now, 20 years later, two of the Spice Girls launched a website that celebrates the group’s two decade’s worth of “girl power.” A DVD is more likely used as a coaster for a cold drink than as an entertainment medium, and the number of host computers on the world wide web is well over 1 billion. And, most unfortunately, we’re still struggling with HIPAA.

When the law was enacted, its aim was to limit exposure or disclosure of personal information and enhance communications between doctor and patient. However, it was created well in advance of the ubiquitousness of the Internet, smartphones and social media platforms. In 1996, most if not all medical records were in paper form, the concept of data mining was a sparkle in the mind of a computer scientist, and the business of sifting through data to better analyze and predict was not yet conceived.

Healthcare And Kitchen Table Economics

We’re in full-blown presidential campaign season. This race is in stark contrast to prior ones which often featured talks by candidates that visualized a couple or family sitting at the kitchen table discussing where things stood for them economically.

This image has been used as a way to drive the complexities of a growing, global economy to a level all could grasp and appreciate. Whether it was Republican or Democrat, the ones driving for the Oval Office would use that setting as a way to relate to and connect with their fellow Americans.

Economists all across the spectrum of theory will argue the notion of kitchen-table economics is little more than a ploy by office seekers to have voters think they empathize with their plight. Nonetheless, this quadrennial competition, like earlier ones, finds Americans sitting at the kitchen table wondering where their money is going.

PatientPay to Present at CED Tech Venture Conference

Event to ‘Showcase’ Paperless Patient Payment Solutions Company

DURHAM, NC SEPTEMBER 06, 2016 -- PatientPay℠, a paperless payments technology company focused on healthcare will be one of a select group of North Carolina-based emerging growth firms to present at the 2016 Council for Entrepreneurial Development Tech Venture Conference, to be held September 13-14, at the Raleigh Convention Center.

The event is one of the premier events for technology entrepreneurs in the Southeast and attracts some of the most innovative minds from across the nation including business and technology innovators, investors, corporate visionaries and community leaders.

PatientPay's Health Care Paper Fix: Automate Payments

Health care stands to benefit from automated and easier-to-understand billing and payments, but PatientPay is betting that ridding the system of paper is required on the benefits end as well.

PatientPay's online and mobile platform, called PatientPay Paperless, matches the explanation of benefits with the bill to provide visibility into what the patient owes and what the insurance company will cover.

"Digitizing the process in the manner PatientPay is approaching it is tackling the two toughest issues, the first being the convenience of the online channel," said Michael Trilli, senior health care analyst for Aite Group.

All providers using PatientPay or a similar service will likely see bills paid faster because it is a payment process that caters to the patients' lifestlyes, Trilli said.

CED Tech Venture Profile: PatientPay

DURHAM, N.C. — Durham-based startup PatientPay is utilizing patented technology in an effort to help reduce paperwork clogging up healthcare while reducing costs. It's already attracted $2.5 million in venture capital from Silicon Valley's Mosaik Partners.

The company is among some 90 startups and emerging companies presenting at the CED Tech Venture Conference. These stories are being presented through a partnership between WRAL TechWire and the CED.

Here's the PatientPay Q&A profile, led by CEO Tom Furr:

Smart Practice Collections Strengthen Finances

As medical groups continue to struggle in today’s complex and changing healthcare business environment, there is a rise in the number of these groups submitting bankruptcy filings across the country. These bankruptcies are not the result of malpractice suits in favor of the plaintiffs and have little to do with medicine or the business of healthcare.

A case in point is this 2015 tale told by Bradford Botes, a bankruptcy attorney in Birmingham, Alabama:

“I filed bankruptcy for a physician with a six figure income. The problem was that this physician followed the American Dream and tried to start his own practice. He signed a lease for office space, financed the purchase of expensive equipment and sunk all of his hard earned savings into the new practice.

“Now this man was a very good doctor. He was good at diagnosing illnesses and kind to his patients. He just wasn’t a very good business man. Poor decisions were made and the practice eventually failed. After time, the doctor found work with another practice but by that point he had a million dollars plus in debt. The companies that leased him office space and financed his equipment had filed lawsuits against him and there was simply no way that he could pay everyone. After much prayer and deliberation, he made the decision to seek bankruptcy relief.”

Why providers can’t let up on security training

Peter Singer, director of the Brookings Institution’s Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and co-author of the book “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know,” was quoted in Fortune as saying “Stop looking for others to solve it for you, stop looking for silver bullet solutions and stop ignoring it.”

The “it” healthcare management professionals must address is cybersecurity; the art and science of proactively and reactively protecting your hospital’s data, especially patient health information (PHI).

There’s a saying in IT security circles about how organizations acknowledge the ever-present threat of unauthorized intrusions into their information infrastructures. Basically, it notes at least 95 percent of public and private sector entities admit to have been hacked, while the other 5 percent are liars. Singer suggests 97 percent of all such institutions have been attacked and the remaining 3 percent don’t know it.

PatientPay Streamlines Healthcare Billing

A new study shows that household and business spending on healthcare costs will close in on the $3 trillion mark in the next decade. One Triangle company is hoping to alleviate some of the associated frustration, at least when it comes to billing.

According to a study published by Health Affairs, a peer-reviewed medical journal, healthcare costs that will be paid by households and businesses will increase to nearly $3 trillion by 2025. The founder of PatientPay, a Durham-based paperless billing company that specializes in the healthcare field believes his company can streamline the process by making bills easier for individuals to read, understand, and pay in a much shorter period of time. 

Tom Furr founded PatientPay following a personal – and frustrating – experience at an area healthcare provider several years ago, when his wife was treated for a broken ankle. The seemingly indecipherable bill he received led to a phone call, which only led to more frustration.

Four Technologies You Should Be Using in Your Practice

Physicians and their practices are becoming pretty comfortable using technology, according to the data from Physicians Practice's 2016 Technology Survey, which features 1,568 respondents from across the country. Apart from EHRs, which have made significant inroads into independent medical practice, there are a plethora of other technologies that can make a physician's life just a little bit easier and are increasingly being adopted into their practices.

Not surprising, a clear majority (78 percent) of practices say they use billing and coding software. Far more interesting, from our perspective, is that roughly a third of respondents say they use technology to conduct data analytics (33 percent) and manage their revenue cycle (29.4 percent), and 16 percent use technology to facilitate patient check-in and registration ( a 2 percent increase over 2015). While small, this number is significant given the fact that every dollar counts in medical practices, especially so for the smaller groups. In fact, when asked "What is your most pressing information technology problem?" after citing EHR-related problems, 8 percent of survey respondents said, "Costs to purchase and implement other technologies."

Fintech companies are catnip for investors

The financial technology sector, or fintech for short, has become a magnet for money.

Since 2010, nearly 2,500 fintech startups across the globe have attracted more than $50 billion in investments by venture capitalists, private equity firms and others, according to management consulting firm Accenture. In 2015 alone, $22.3 billion was invested in fintech startups, up 75 percent from 2014.

Fintech companies, a group that includes companies such as PayPal and Square, initially made their mark introducing disruptive new ways of doing things – such as processing payments or making loans – that directly competed with banks and other traditional financial institutions.

Provider Viability Depends Payment Options

I read with utter fascination several articles on how technology is being harnessed to advance healthcare in a special Wall Street Journal report on health. Every item covered in the report is not sitting someplace off in the future – it’s very much happening now.

Some of the reporting reflected on how our society communicates, such as the rise of mobile-centric telemedicine or how doctors use text messaging to send tips on avoiding a heart attack. Other advances were more compelling, such as the use of virtual reality technology to engage and encourage stroke victims with their recovery.

Another story looked at the growing use of surgical robotics, which had the feel of science fiction yet is very much fact today. The report also addressed how technology can be used positively to reach large populations to impact their health, develop engineered blood vessels or do neuromodulation that can help with the effects of Crohn’s Disease.

PatientPay Donates to Nature Conservancy

PatientPay Seeks to Help Restore Carolina’s Longleaf Pine Forest

DURHAM, NC – PatientPay SM , which provides paperless patient payment solutions for the healthcare industry, recently made a donation to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for restoration of longleaf pine forests in the North Carolina Sandhills. The donation resulted from the company’s campaign to make a contribution for every bill that it processed on Earth Day.

“The mission of The Nature Conservancy is perfectly aligned with our mission,” said Tom Furr, PatientPay’s CEO. “Forests play an important role in the production of clean water, clean air, regulating climate and supporting all of us and our ecosystem,” Furr said. “Supporting The Nature Conservancy is a natural extension of our business goals to reduce paper consumption.”

Why isn’t healthcare ready for millennials?

In April, baby boomers passed the crown as the largest living generation to millennials, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There are now more Americans between the ages of 18-34 than those aged 51-69.

When I posed the question, “What do you think of millennials?” to a group of friends at a party recently the comments were as snarky as you would imagine: They’re “entitled,” “convinced they know it all,” “only want instant gratification,” and a bunch of comments not suitable for this publication. Granted, it was at a party held to honor a couple who’ve been married longer than most millennials have been alive. But it was telling.

If those folks and some members of the “silent generation,” the ones who preceded the boomers, feel this way, does an industry that serves all living generations—healthcare—hold similar views?

The short answer: Yes. And that’s a problem looking ahead.

More of Healthcare Should Be ‘Goin’ Mobile’

Forty-five years ago Pete Townshend, lead guitarist of the fabled rock band The Who, wrote these lyrics:

“...Out in the woods, or in the city, it’s all the same to me.
When I’m driving free, the world’s my home.
When I’m mobile…”

The song “Goin’ Mobile” expressed a young man’s desire to move about freely; allowing him to experience the world in which he was traveling.

According to the research firm Statista, Americans have already gone mobile, albeit in a different way than envisioned by Pete. More than 70 percent of the U.S. population will have a mobile smartphone by 2019. That’s more than two out of every three people carrying in their pockets devices that have millions more times the computing power of the guidance systems used by NASA to get men on the Moon and has graphics capabilities that make those of the famed Cray-1 Supercomputer laughable. They can even go toe to toe with IBM’s Deep Blue computer when it comes to number crunching ability.

PatientPay Appoints Paul Boemer Executive Vice President

FIS Veteran to Accelerate Growth for Healthcare Payment Solutions Company

Durham, NC (June 21, 2016) -- PatientPay™, the leader in paperless billing solutions for the healthcare industry, today announced the appointment of Paul Boemer as Executive Vice President.

“All along his career path, Paul has built business units, divisions and whole companies that delivered meaningful benefits to their customers and measurable results to their stakeholders,” said Tom Furr, PatientPay’s CEO. “We are excited to have such an accomplished builder of businesses and customer relationships join the PatientPay team.”

Those Sticky Fingers Can Be Cut Off

Did you hear the one about the disbarred lawyer who embezzled more than $1.2 million from a hospital in Kansas City over four and one-half years?

A long-trusted attorney supposedly served the hospital by collecting past-due payments from patients. Money collected was to go into a trust account. However, his fingers were more than a little sticky when checks were mailed back from patients. They found their way to his personal account.

Slow- and no-pay patients have become an important aspect of hospital financial management with the rise of High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP). Once an annoying write-off, keeping bad debt to an absolute minimum is a priority. Gone are the days when 90+ percent of revenue came from insurance companies. Healthcare providers must look to patients for 50 percent, or more, of that revenue now.

Rev-Ignition Shifts Patient Billing to Paperless Solution

Revenue Cycle Management Company Selects PatientPay

Durham, NC and Temecula, CA -- (June 1, 2016) -- Rev-Ignition, a leading revenue cycle management (RCM) company serving a broad network of healthcare providers, will move from a paper-based billing process to a paperless one from PatientPay the leader in patient healthcare payment solutions, the companies today announced.

“The decision to eliminate paper from the patient billing process for our clients nationally was driven by the desire to generate faster patient payments for them. The move to PatientPay Paperless℠ is essential to providing ease of payment and convenience for patients as well,” said Terrence Sims, Rev-Ignition’s president. “This simple, relevant, and accommodating use of technology is welcomed at a time when patient portions are on the rise across the nation.”

Software Company Dares Practices to Go Paperless

Going paperless is not a new idea. It began years ago as the concept of a paperless office environment began to take flight, and quickly spread. With the advent of tablets, smart phones, and other mobile devices, the death knell was sounded for the printed newspaper.
Those concepts, however, have not come to fruition. People still, and probably always will, like holding a newspaper in their hands. And the paperless office is still just a concept.
But where going paperless seems to make sound business and financial sense is in physician offices where patient billing statements are concerned. And yet, physicians are not embracing this concept either.