Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from The Break Room podcast highlighting three digital tools designed to reduce documentation time, enhance billing, and optimize coding. This article has been edited for length and clarity. Listen to the full episode below.
Recent research from the American Medical Association shows that physicians are propelling healthcare’s digital transformation. As Jack Resneck Jr., MD, President of the AMA, noted: These findings illustrate “the importance physicians place on validated digital health tools that improve health while streamlining the technological and administrative burdens faced each day in medicine.”
Physicians’ increasing adoption of technology comes at a crucial time. With a growing healthcare workforce shortage and clinician burnout at an all-time high, the right digital tools can improve practice efficiency, empower physicians to work at the top of their license, and support provider and staff well-being.
Our guests for this episode are Lane Lee, MD, a family medicine physician in San Marcos, Texas, and Harrison Lamons, Senior Vice President of Revenue Cycle Management and Credentialing at Privia Health.
Before we discuss digital tools’ role in improving coding, billing, and documentation, it’s helpful to review the issues these tools help address. What are some of the main challenges independent physicians face today?
We could probably devote a whole episode just to this question. The challenges are many. I’d say there are probably five main challenges: time, capital, complexity of patient care, burnout, and technology (that sometimes doesn’t work the way it’s intended). Of those, the one I think is the most challenging to the majority of physicians would simply be time. We’re pulled in many different directions. Some of us are business owners. Some of us have other business responsibilities outside of direct patient care. And some have leadership roles in Privia. Then you have family responsibilities. There are only so many hours in a day. Every click, every screen refresh, every log-in all take extra time.
Privia+ aims to avoid fragmentation and incompatibility — two of healthcare technology’s most common issues — by combining three services into one integrated solution. What are these services and how do they support physicians?
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of technology companies in the revenue-cycle management and healthcare spaces. You have the “big-box” players — the Epics, the athenahealths — that are also trying to build in some of the components that the niche companies are already doing today. Technology is definitely an area that is growing rapidly in our space. When we think about the Privia+ package, there are three programs we’re providing to our physicians: SCRIBE+, BILLER+, and CODER+.
SCRIBE+ is designed to help physicians with their documentation and reduce the amount of time that it’s taking them to do their documentation each day. BILLER+ helps with more simplistic denials that typically would fall back onto physician office staff, such as insurance and demographic issues. We try to take those services off the clinic’s plate and perform those internally ourselves. And CODER+ helps physicians with their E&M procedural and surgical coding to give some time back in their days.
The Privia+ toolset aims to combat four day-to-day challenges that private practices face: productivity, work-life balance, risk management, and physician and patient satisfaction. How do these challenges impact independent physicians, and how has Privia+ helped alleviate them?
Putting all four of those things you mentioned together, what does that result in? Burnout. When providers have to do things that they weren’t necessarily trained to do, that adds to their work day and takes away from family time. From my perspective, as we’re discussing these three tools, ultimately that’s where the rubber meets the road.
These tools allow our providers to be present at work and then, when they leave work, they’re done. They’re not doing “pajama time” coding and documentation. If they’re supposed to be at their kid’s soccer game, they can make their kid’s soccer game. There’s not the emotional stress involved with being pulled in multiple different directions.
Learn how digital scribe technology helped one pediatric neurologist save time and focus on her patients.
One major advantage of the Privia+ suite is that all three solutions sync with the electronic health record. How does this integration benefit everyone involved?
It’s a benefit to have our trained professionals who are looking at those value-based care items and risk-adjustment items on top of the fee-for-service billing. I think, for simplicity and completeness of the medical record, having everything in one electronic health record is a great benefit for the provider and for the patient downstream. It also leads to a great user experience for anyone on the front end as well as the clinic staff who need information on the back end. All that information is there for our teams to use to benefit the overall billing and patient experience.