At Odds With Others: Hang up the gloves and start talking Thursday, Jan 2 2014 

This article appeared in the March/April 2008 issue of CMA Today the monthly magazine published by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). It was written by Cathy Sivak.

This article is regarding conflict with others in the office environment and is increasingly a challenge for every office.

“Meaningful conflict actually enhances communications by relating the expectation up front between the parties. Communication can be painful, you may have to correct somebody, but in the end you gain more respect from each other,” says Charlene Burgett, MSHCM, CMA (AAMA), CPC, CMSCS

AT ODDS WITH OTHERS Article CMA Today

Boxing Gloves

If it’s not documented… Thursday, Dec 2 2010 

I want to share with you my call recording system in our office. Initially, we had phones that would record, but it was only after someone pushed the record button on the phone and I would never get anything prior to the record button being pushed. In addition, the telephone system’s call recording speaker was very sensitive and if one of my employees sighed, breathed, or there was any other noise on our side of the phone, it would override the speaker and I would only hear our side of the conversation. It was very frustrating!

I have been recording our inbound and outbound telephone calls for over three years now and it is one of the best things I have ever done in my 25 years of practice management! The system I have was developed by OAISYS. They have two products, Tracer and Talkument. Talkument is more basic. I started with Talkument and upraded to Tracer about a year ago!

I did a case study for them because I love their product so much!

http://www.oaisys.com/casestudies/NSFM.aspx

and

http://www.oaisys.com/movies/flash_only/NSFM_Case_Study_flash.html

There is really no Federal Law regarding telephone recordings in this scenario. Each state has their own regulation and can either be “one-party” or “two-party”. One-party states only require one party to know about the telephone call being recorded and that would be the recording party. Two-party states require both parties and that is where you would hear the message that states “all calls are being recorded for quality assurance purposes.”

Arizona is a one-party state. I have my staff and physicians sign a disclaimer that they know that the phones are recorded, just to be on the safe side in my office. I also have a label on all phones reminding people that their conversation is recorded. I am the only person who can access the recordings…the physicians can not even access them!

Here is a website that covers telephone recording laws:

http://www.rcfp.org/taping/.

The OAISYS server is attached to our phone system. It has it’s own IP address, so there is no software to install on your phone system or computer server. I don’t remember how much hard drive space is on the server, but we have not filled the hard drive up yet. I do have another external hard drive attached to the system so when we do fill the drive, it is programmed to have the oldest calls dump into the external hard drive. All phone calls are saved and will be saved permanently, or until we decide to purge. I spoke with our malpractice insurer and they suggested that we retain the calls using the same guidelines as retaining patient medical records.

I am able to log into the server and the calls appear similar to how Outlook is laid out. I can search using various parameters, such as date of call, outside telephone number, office extension, inbound/outbound calls, etc. I can combine those parameters and do a search to drill down even further.

We have had three licensing board complaints and, in all three, I used the voice recordings as evidence…we won all three! All three licensing board complaints were completely dropped! Think about the malpractice savings because these things could have resulted in a malpractice lawsuit as well. This alone has covered the cost of the system over ten-fold!

In addition, I have used the voice recordings to help my staff in understanding that they made a mistake or may have sounded rude on the phone. Oftentimes, I can just let them listen and they discover the problem themselves…makes my job so much easier when they have the buy-in!

I have used it to fight insurance companies. I have used it for the smallest, mundane things, like the front office hanging up without getting a name or phone number of the patient…I go onto Talkument/Tracer and can pull the actual voice recording and re-listen to the person identifying themselves and the phone number shows up on caller ID on the system.

And, how many times, have you had a disgruntled patient who has stated that someone told them something and you know darn well that the person is not sharing the full truth with you? Yes, I have brought patient’s in my office to listen to their own conversation. I have emailed their telephone call to them proving that they made their appointment on a specific date, time and with a specific doctor because they state otherwise.

Bottomline is that I detest being lied to and I hate not knowing who to believe. If it happened on our phone line, I can hear it for myself and make my decisions based on fact! There is no better place to be and that, to me, is priceless.

My physicians and several other key staff, initially, had some trepidation about the system and now they bless the day we got it.  In fact, they wrote recommendation letters themselves sharing their feelings on having this system in our practice:

http://www.oaisys.com/downloads/NSFM_Letters_of_Recommendation.pdf

I seldom put this much passion into another company…OAISYS has won me over from the minute I saw them as a vendor at another conference I attended. I have had many dealings with OAISYS and they are a top notch company…if I ever think of ending this healthcare gig, I would be on their doorstep asking them to hire me! They use a third-party to do the installation, for us it was Sonoran Integrations, and they were excellent as well.

Oh, and another thing that we use it for, that may be of specific interest to those of you in Pediatrics:  Arizona has really strict laws regarding caring for minors and parental consent. As we all know, there are those parents that will drop their toddler off at one end of the block and expect him to get to the office, sign in and make informed medical decisions and pay their copay in Cheerios. Okay, maybe I am embellishing a little bit, but we all know that parents will drop off their teenagers and we cannot see them because we do not have parental consent.  With Talkument, I have the ability to record the parent’s consent and note in the chart that it was given and recorded (a verbal is okay, but I hate to have that “he said/she said” thing in a court of law!).

Is there a difference between a “Biller” and a “Coder”? Saturday, May 30 2009 

Many practices are stymied by the difference between a “biller” and a “coder”.  Why would a practice need both?  Are there any other alternatives?

Well, there is a major difference and it is possible to find one person who can do both…if you are lucky!

A “Coder” is trained in CPT and Medicare coding guidelines.  They should understand Documentation Guidelines in determining coding for Evaluation and Management services.  In addition, they are trained in coding HCPCS and ICD-9, as well.  The coder is usually more “black and white”, they look at coding as somewhat of an exact science.  The problem that I see is when you put five coders in the same room and ask them to code the same thing, you will probably have five different answers!

The “Biller” will be more the “gray-area” thinker.  They see how claims are paid by each health plan.  They know that each health plan has their own reimbursement policies and that the “rules” are consistently inconsistent.  They may not be as well versed in the exact coding of services, but they know how each health plan reimburses specific codes and coding combinations.  If I have a question regarding how a specific health plan reimburses an office visit on the same day as a preventive medicine visit, I will ask my Biller.

Typically, you will find that an employee has either a “coder” or “biller” perspective.  Each are good and needed by physicians; however, there are some people out there who have both perspectives and they are Golden!  If a practice is fortunate enough to bring on an employee with both viewpoints, they will have a valuable asset on staff.