Misunderstandings About Vision Benefits is the Top Cause of Patient-Staff Conflicts

Asked about the most common cause of patient-staff conflict, 48% of Review of Optometry readers cited misunderstandings about vision benefits while 35% cited patient perception of staff as rude and insensitive to their needs as the most frequent culprit. Nine% cited dissatisfaction with eyeglasses as the top cause of conflict and another 9% said patient-staff conflict is most often caused by patients waiting too long for appointments to begin.


Hire More, Earn More?

The average salary of OD owner/partners in practices with one to three people is $87,188, according to Jobson Optical Research’s and Local Eye Site’s ECP Compensation Study. The average salary of OD owner/partners increases to $182,592 in practices with four or more people. The average OD owner/partner’s salary at practices with one location is $137,546, while the average salary of OD owner/partner’s at practices with more than one location is $207, 771.

A common problem in a smaller practice is the doctor who is doing two jobs-the jobs of both a data gatherer and a data analyzer. If the doctor is doing the entire examination without assistance from staff, then the doctor is seeing fewer patients per day than is possible. Delegating some of the examination to staff frees up the doctor to see more patients per day. This raises the gross revenue of the practice and, with careful management, also raises the doctor’s income.

A common misconception why doctors do not delegate is the belief that patients think they are getting a better examination if the doctor does all the testing. This is simply not true. Think about your last visit with your general physician. Who did the majority of the testing? Odds are it was not the doctor. The doctor came in at the end, looked over the results, maybe did a test or two, then, made the case presentation.  

If we are going to exist in the medical world, then we need to make our practices look more like the medical world. That means the doctor needs to become more of a data analyzer and less of a data gatherer. Start today by assigning a few tests to staff to do for you such as visual acuity. As you get comfortable, then you can assign more tests to staff to do for you. When you feel proficiency levels are reached, then you can readjust your schedule to see more patients per day without working any more hours per day.  

Efficiency is the key word for making the practice work well in the managed care environment in which we live today.

Deadline for Avoiding 2013 E-Prescribing Penalty Is June 30

Physicians need to electronically transmit 10 prescriptions to the pharmacy by June 30 to avoid a Medicare penalty in 2013. The federal government is serious about digitizing healthcare, and in addition to rewarding physicians who e-prescribe for their Medicare patients, it is penalizing thsoe who are still writing on prescription pads or even computer-faxing scripts (a true electronic prescription goes from the clinician’s computer to the pharmacy’s). This year the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began to reduce Medicare reimbursement by 1% for physicians and other prescribers who failed to e-prescribe at least 10 times during the first half of 2011. This adjustment will grow to 1.5% in 2013 and 2% in 2014.

The CMS exempts physicians from the e-prescribing penalty if they qualify for 1 of several hardship exemptions, such as practicing in a rural area that lacks high-speed internet access. However, such physicians must request an exemption no later than June 30 of this year.

In addition, physicians are not subject to the 2013 penalty if they fall into various exclusion categories. Two involve the 50-plus billing codes that must be associated with an e-prescription for it to be counted toward the bonus: physicians will not incur the 2013 penalty if they do not have at least 100 claims for Medicare patients in the first half of 2012 with 1 of these required codes, or if the codes account for less than 10% fo their Medicare allowable charges during that period.


Deadline Extended for Appealing Medicare EHR Bonus

Physicians who believe they were incorrectly denied a Medicare bonus for using an electronic health record (EHR) system last year have a few more weeks to appeal their case.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it is extending the deadline for such eligibility appeals from March 31 to April 30. In 2011, CMS began paying bonuses to physicians and other clinicians who demonstrated meaningful use of an EHR system. They can receive up to $44,000 under Medicare over 5 years or up to $64,000 under Medicaid over 6 years in the incentive program, created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The new deadline applies only to EHR bonuses under Medicare.

Next Generation of U.S Doctors Sees Gloomy Future

A majority of young doctors feel pessimistic about the future of the U.S healthcare system, with the new healthcare law cited as the main reason. Nearly half of the 500 doctors surveyed released to Reuters, think the Affordable Care Act will have a negative effect on their practices, compared with 23% who think it will be positive.

Of the 57% of young doctors who are pessimistic, 34% cite the new healthcare law or regulations as the reason for pessimism. Other reasons include declining reimbursement for doctors and a decrease in incomes. 21% were neutral and 22% were optimistic in contrast.

The survey was commissioned by The Physicians Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes the work of practicing doctors through grants, research and policy impact studies.