ICD-10: Key Changes for Primary Care

Transitioning successfully to the new ICD-10 code set will be particularly important for primary-care physicians. ICD-10 will allow primary-care specialists to more accurately depict chronic conditions as well as other commonly reported diagnoses.

Physicians will need to be more specific in their documentation than they likely have been in the past. Because there will be a greater number of code choices in ICD-10, physicians should have to choose an unspecified code less often. The greater specificity in diagnostic coding should help improve disease management and reporting overall.
Practices should examine their top diagnoses and compare how those codes will change once ICD-10 goes into effect: Oct. 1, 2015. Converting to ICD-10 may be a challenging transition for many practices. However, it’s likely that physicians will recognize its benefits over time. ICD-10 is certainly more complex than its predecessor, but in this changing world of health care economics, its increased specificity should prove beneficial to you and your practice.

Here are some diagnoses to which primary-care providers should pay close attention. This is certainly not an all-encompassing list, but is an example of some of the common diagnoses often reported by these physicians.

Diabetes: Physicians are now required to document type, whether the condition is related to drugs or chemicals or due to an underlying problem, as well as complications and manifestations. ICD-10 requires very specific details and Physicians should use as many codes as necessary to capture the true nature of the condition.
Hypertension: There are separate codes for each complication of hypertension that includes vessels of the brain and the eyes and those involving the heart and the kidneys.
3. Asthma: Physicians must document whether the asthma is mild, moderate or severe, with variations intermittent or persistent, uncomplicated or exacerbated. The physician must also report if tobacco exposure is a factor.
4. Ear Infection: The physician must distinguish between the various forms of otitis media, specify the location, acute vs chronic, any associated perforation and document if tobacco is a contributing factor.
5. Other codes: ICD-10 includes an array of codes that relates to factors that influence health status and contact with health services, such as health hazards due to socioeconomic and psychosocial circumstances – education, literacy, employment/unemployment, obesity, and problems related to lifestyle – tobacco use, lack of exercise and high-risk sexual behavior.

Source: PhysicianPractice.Com

7 Advantages of Outsourcing Your Medical Billing

Medical billing can be a demanding and challenging task for small medical practices. For this reason, many physicians or practice managers make the choice to outsource their medical office billing to a professional medical billing company. There are many advantages to outsourcing medical billing: saves time, saves money, and eliminates the burden of concentrating on too many aspects of the medical office.

Consider all of the advantages of outsourcing your medical billing before making a decision about whether to bill in-house or outsource the billing of your medical claims.

  1. More Focus on Patient Care: Physicians cannot be efficient at providing excellent patient care if they are bogged down by the financial side of the running a practice.
  2. Reduces Billing Errors: Experienced, professional medical billers can ensure that your claims are accurately submitted in a timely manner. Medical billing companies’ sole purpose is to provide medical billing services.
  3. Saves Money: By outsourcing your medical billing, you could save thousands of dollars in annual salaries and benefits; office supplies and furniture; and purchasing, upgrading, and maintaining billing software and additional computer equipment.
  4. Improves Cash Flow: What happens when your medical biller calls out or goes on vacation? Sometimes claims have to wait until they come back to work in order to be submitted. Billing interruptions ultimately affects the timeliness of reimbursements and your cash flow.
  5. Improves Patient Satisfaction: The ability to offer excellent customer service is what all medical professionals want to provide to their patients. However, it can be quite difficult to juggle the demands of treating patients and handling billing issues.
  6. Ensures Billing Compliance: Healthcare is an ever-changing industry and it is a challenge keeping up with the billing changes in Medicare, Medicaid and third party payers. It is a full time job to make sure that the medical office is following the proper protocol required by each payer.
  7. Increases Revenue: With the reduction in overhead costs, the timely submission of medical claims and the increased reimbursements, a higher profit is another advantage outsourcing can provide to the medical office. This allows the medical office the ability to provide the best quality services using the best technology and products and the best staff.


Source: about.com/money


How to Reduce a Bloated Belly in 60 Seconds with This Simple Recipe

There’s an easy way to reduce that big belly size of yours, this is the Sassy Water. Named after its inventor Cynthia Sass who came up with it for the “Flat Belly Diet”, this recipe transforms ordinary water into a wonder drink that can do wonders for your health. It contains almost no calories and can even help improve your digestion.

While drinking eight glasses of water might meet your body’s requirement for hydration there are a few things that you need to be concerned about: your body’s fluid (electrolyte) balance and water retention.

Drinking Sassy Water can help facilitate good digestion. Ginger, cucumber, lemon and spearmint can improve your well being in more ways than you can imagine.


2 liters water

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

12 spearmint leaves



Do not peal lemons

Mix all ingredients in a large container

Leave the mixture in the fridge over night

Drink Sassy Water during the next day, starting in the morning.

Lemon and lemon water are perfect for the weight loss process. Lemon is a natural diuretic and it is an alkaline food which provides proper pH balance.

Cucumber is a nutritive diuretic. It boosts kidney function that burns fat through urine. This function has an essential significance for healthy weight loss effect.

Mint. It is well known for their calming effect on your stomach. It also helps you to improve digestion.

Ginger is one of the most impressive ingredients in this recipe. It has a marvelous smell & taste and conveys many healthy benefits. Ginger is very useful for calming down your gastrointestinal tract and it is a proved cancer fighter.


Source: Dr. Frank Lipman

Four Ways to Handle Cyber Conflict and Negative Reviews

The evolution of technology has dramatically enhanced our ability to connect with one another, a progression that has had both positive and negative effects. Positive, because we can communicate with almost anyone, anywhere, anytime. And negative, because we are increasingly expressing ourselves in a disrespectful manner.

Take doctor-rating websites, for example. A random online search revealed that the same physician was simultaneously evaluated as “kind doctor” in one comment and “quack in a cheap suit” in another. And he’s not the only physician with vastly opposing patient comments on his profile; a public profile that he has little, if any, control over unless he “claims” it. How is that fair?

Digital discord has become a fact of life. People seem to develop a false sense of confidence when allowed to let their fingers do the talking. As a result, some are prone to write, post, and share a damaging degree of nasty comments online that they wouldn’t dare say out loud when looking someone in the eye.

Such electronic remarks can be hurtful, to both your pride and your practice. Here are four ways to handle negative electronic interactions and potentially detrimental online reviews.

1. Ignore negative comments.

Though difficult to do, it may be best to simply not read what other people are writing about you. Once you get over the initial shock of being slammed by negativity you’ll likely see that there’s little to be gained by reading further. Though it’s wise to keep apprised of what’s being posted, that doesn’t mean you need to be the one who’s doing the reading. Consider assigning the task to a member of your staff, asking them to notify you if they think there’s something you need to address personally.

2. Respond with respect.

If you choose to reply to someone’s objectionable remarks, do so with patience and a courteous attitude. State your point of view factually, disagree with dignity, and avoid getting into a squabble. Internet trolls and online rabble-rousers pride themselves on their ability to prod people to the point where they respond with anger and emotion. Once you’ve hit the post or comment button, your words will live forever in cyber-land. If you can’t stick to the topic without belittling the writer of the offensive remarks, step away from the computer and cool down until you’re able to be more objective.

3. Draw the line.

When enough becomes enough, you need to bring the exchange to a halt. Posting a simple statement like, “This conversation is over. I will no longer read or respond to your remarks,” is all you need to write to make your point clear. Then you must follow through on your commitment. Your online adversary might continue to taunt you or bring in reinforcements to pepper you with more malicious comments. Once you’ve drawn the line don’t allow yourself to be lured back.

4. Hire a professional.

At some point it may become necessary to consult an online reputation management firm to help you undo the damage others have done to your status. These companies specialize in reversing poor rankings and removing damaging images and reports. But beware! Some online reputation management companies have been reported to have less than stellar business practices themselves.

No one is immune to digital disrespect. While potential patients will check you out on a variety of virtual platforms, including doctor rating websites, most will take note of the recommendations that appear on your own website and the other online and social media profiles you control. Think about asking patients to provide you with endorsements that you can share publically (while maintaining confidentiality, of course). Then add positive comments from colleagues and staff to round out your cyber profile.


Source: Sue Jacques

Eight Traits Shared by Successful Physicians

We asked physicians, “What is the most important trait for today’s doctors to possess?” Here’s what they said.

Flexibility and Open-Mindedness

“There are a lot of changes and being willing to be flexible to best meet the patients’ needs is important. If you are not willing to change and grow, the system may break you.“

– Melinda Rathkopf, an Alaska-based allergist-immunologist

An Eye for the Truth

Physicians must be able to “pay attention to the trend lines and not the headlines. Just because people repeat a lie often enough doesn’t make it true (e.g., technology will ruin the doctor-patient relationship, doctors will go out of business because of the Affordable Care Act, etc.).“

– Terence R. McAllister, a Massachusetts-based primary-care physician, and Leann DiDomenico McAllister, a practice administrator

Business Skills

“If you lack business skills, you will not last very long in medicine both financially and professionally.”

– Elizabeth Seymour, a Texas-based family physician

Flexibility and Resilience

“We are experiencing change in every aspect of medicine, from the increasing pace of medical discoveries and new treatment guidelines; to the way we provide care moving from an office visit to virtual visits; to payment reform. Additionally, our patients are at various levels of change and expectation, so we need to be able to be the ‘old-school’ paternalistic physician for patients who are most comfortable with that traditional model, and be able to turn around and do more coaching and shared decision making with younger patients.”

– Jennifer Frank, a Wisconsin-based family physician


Physicians need to have “patience that whatever frustrations the insurance companies or government toss out will work themselves out — or that we will find a work-around solution. We must have patience with our staff, as they are only human; and patience with our patients, as they too are incredibly frustrated and burdened by this dysfunctional medical ecosystem we all live in. Lastly, we must have patience with ourselves — no one gets it right every time.”

– Michael Freedman, a Maryland-based internist

Flexibility and Awareness

“… The landscape of medicine changes so rapidly now. From social media to [EHR] systems, new tools and technologies make it difficult for inflexible physicians to adapt. Furthermore, the rate of change is accelerating and if a physician is unwilling to be flexible it’ll be easy for him or her to be blindsided by these innovations.”

– Brian Harmych, an Ohio-based facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon

Teaching Skills

“Often patients are seen as ‘noncompliant’ when the problem is that they do not understand what they are supposed to do and why. They don’t take their cholesterol meds because they don’t feel any better taking them well, that’s not their purpose. They stop taking a pill because it upsets their stomach, but no one told them not to take it on an empty stomach. They can’t understand why they can’t lose weight when they don’t even eat breakfast or lunch, because they don’t know that a large caramel mocha iced coffee is 230 calories and that four White Castle sliders are [more than] 600 calories and therefore do so constitute breakfast and lunch.”

– Melissa Young, a New Jersey-based endocrinologist

Flexibility and Leadership

“The most important information that physicians need today in order to be successful and satisfied is the ability to accept change. Healthcare has never provided a static system for patients or physicians, and physicians need to accept that things will change, and accept the responsibility to lead that change.”

– Kyle Bradford Jones, a Utah-based family physician

Source: http://www.consultantlive.com/

Ten Online Health Resources to Recommend to Patients

Dr. Google’s not all bad. But even if you’re sold on the 24/7 availability of healthcare information online, the never-ending breadth of data out there is actually part of the problem. How are patients to find and discern what is truly valuable from it all?

By recommending the following resources to patients, you and your staff can both encourage patients to be self-empowered and deter them from being taken advantage of by (sometimes purposefully) inaccurate online advisers. Topping the list is MedlinePlus, by the U. S. National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health

Google is merely a search engine. The problem is that there is nothing to discriminate between good and bad sites. Furthermore, the “bad” sites are probably more adept and do more to get hits that those sites with good information, so they come out on top of the Google hits list! While there have been proposals to grade various medical sites, nothing like that has ever been implemented. Many of the sites with bad info, furthermore, are well-intentioned, just wrong. Unless you have a good background in medicine, there just is not any way to even begin discriminating between different sites. It is up to medical professionals to help their patients obtain correct, quality information. As things currently stand there is not even a mechanism to sue a “bad” site for misinformation that resulted in harm to a patient. More attention needs to be paid to this important arena. There has been little, if any, improvement on medical information on the internet even in the few years since I published an article on the subject in Wisconsin Lawyer! Philip M. Kober, JD, MD, PhD.

Are your patients relying too much on inaccurate information from Dr .Google? Here are some resources to recommend that will help steer them in a better direction. The National Network of Libraries of Medicine recommends several resources.


 HHS estimates about one-third of Americans have limited health literacy, defined by the Institute of Medicine as “the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.”

For that reason, it’s critical to provide patients with health resources that provide vetted, easy-to-read, and easy-to-understand information.


Source: physicianspractice.com

BEAT THE HEAT: 9 Ways to Halt Heartburn

BEAT THE HEAT: 9 Ways to Halt Heartburn By Dr. Frank Lipman

Heartburn – lots of us get it, but how do we stop getting it? For some it’s little purple pill or a swig of a vile pink potion, while others just grit their teeth and bare it – none of which solve the problem or prevent future episodes. Fortunately though, heartburn is very treatable and all of us have the power to stop the fire before it starts – without drugs, potions or unpleasant side effects.  Where to begin? Start with a few key dietary and lifestyle changes to start soothing your intestinal system so you can steer it back on to a healthy, heartburn-free track. Here are 9 ways to start banishing the burn:

1. Kick the purple pills.

I kid you not – the first step is to quit the heartburn meds. Contrary to what you might think, heartburn drugs tend to do more harm than good. While there’s no denying they help reduce stomach acid, the problem is that the meds also stop the acid from doing the digestive work it’s supposed to do. Though heartburn gives stomach acid a bad name, acid is absolutely essential to digestion: it helps break down food and stimulates the digestive enzymes in your small intestine; it helps keep the balance of good and bad bacteria in check; it’s your primary defense against food-borne infections and it helps your gut absorb essential nutrients. When you suppress acid production with heartburn drugs, you’re inhibiting digestion, preventing absorption of vitamins and nutrients and all but wiping out the good gut bacteria your gut needs to keep your immune system strong. You’re also setting the stage for damage to the intestinal lining – yikes! Not a great trade off, eh? And please be aware when you stop these heartburn medications cold turkey, you get a rebound effect with the heartburn becoming more severe initially very often. So taper off them slowly preferably under the supervision of a knowledgeable Practitioner.

2. Sink the smokes.

There are hundreds of reasons to stop smoking and heartburn is one of them. Smoking irritates the membranes of the throat and esophagus — just about the last thing you should be doing if you have reflux or heartburn. What’s more – nicotine weakens the esophageal valve, allowing acid to flow back up causing irritation and burn. So if you want to stop the burn, kick the butts.

3. Hold the jalapeños.

Instead of popping pills to put out the fire, give your digestive tract a vacation from high acid foods that irritate tender tissues. A few common acidic culprits include coffee, alcohol, garlic, peppers, onions, tomatoes, orange juice and spicy foods. To help my patients identify their heartburn triggers, I ask them to keep a food diary and monitor how their body reacts to high acid foods, so they get a better sense as to which ones are causing their heat and which ones aren’t. For those with more stubborn cases, I also recommend trying my cleanse diet which eliminates the common foods that fuel the burn.

4. Do drink Swedish bitters.

All that heartburn pill-popping will over time deplete your body of the natural acids that are essential for proper digestion. To stimulate your body’s own production of digestive acids, I recommend stirring 1-3 tablespoons Swedish bitters into an 8 oz. glass of water.  Drink this 15 minutes before eating to get the juices flowing and aid in healthy digestion.

5. Linger over breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Every millimeter of your digestive tract – starting with chewing in your mouth – aids in digestion. Acid-neutralizing saliva paves the way for a painless journey of food into the stomach. When you eat quickly, don’t chew enough, or gulp your food, you miss out on critical steps, setting the stage for heartburn and indigestion. So take your time, savor each bite and enjoy!

6. Lighten your mealtime load.

The more food that’s in your belly, the longer it takes to digest and the more likely it will reflux. Eating several smaller meals throughout the day will be easier on your digestive tract than bombarding it with three big ones. And at the end of the day, try to put 2-3 hours between your evening meal and bedtime so that digestion is well underway before you lie down for the night.

7. Skip the Spanx.

Resist the urge to squish yourself into super skinny jeans if heartburn is an issue. Give your belly room to digest. Tight clothes can put pressure on your stomach, pressing food back up into your esophagus.

8. Sleep on a slope.

When you lie down flat, stomach acid remains in the esophagus longer than it should, giving rise to that burning feeling. Lying down can also lead to inflammation of the esophagus, a potentially dangerous condition. A simple way to avoid the problem: let gravity do the work of keeping the acid in your stomach at night – simply sleep on a slope. All you need to do is slightly elevate your head and chest with an extra pillow or rolled up towel. The downward angle will help keep acid where it belongs – in your stomach!

9. Give your gut a helping hand.

If you’re going to combat heartburn, keep in mind that an unbalanced, irritated, poorly functioning gut can’t do it on it’s own – it needs a helping hand.  Restoring the microflora and repopulating the gut with good bacteria is the starting point. Using herbal anti-microbials (to kill the bad guys) and probiotics (to replenish the good guys) will help return gut microflora to a balanced state. Add to that botanicals and extra nutrients to help protect your GI tract, ease digestion, repair the lining of the gut and prevent heartburn.

Want to make balancing the gut and preventing heartburn a no-brainer?  Try my Beat the Burn Plan!  It combines three Be Well staples for gastrointestinal health: the Probiotics Formula helps boost immunity by providing “good” bacteria to combat the over population of bad bacteria while GI Herbal Formula gives botanical backup for restoring the microflora. These two formulas work in tandem with GI Calm to repair the lining of the gut, which is often compromised by poor diet and digestion.

When all three are used together, they help my patients Beat the Burn by supporting vibrant GI health and relieving the common symptoms of heartburn before they take hold.

3 Reasons Why It’s OK to Fail

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement” — C.S. Lewis

Failure or the fear of failure can be crippling to many of us taking risks in life, and we have been programmed by our teachers, parents, and society to believe it’s negative. In school, I hit the books hard because I feared receiving the dreaded “F” (Fail) and being classified as an underachiever. That was years ago, however. My sentiments have since changed after studying some of the most influential people in business and discovering that most of them failed their way to success. I concluded that failing in school and failing in business are not in the same category. As a young entrepreneur with three businesses of my own, I now embrace failure and recognize it’s an essential component of growth. If you’re in business, here are three strong reasons why failure should not be feared:

1. The Most Successful People are Failures Examine the leading names in any industry and you’ll find that these individuals had to overcome adversity to reach the top. In business, setbacks and mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn and reassess your approach.

Cindy Freland, President of Maryland Secretarial Services, Inc (MSS) refers to failure as “good experiences.” Her previously two unsuccessful businesses taught her a valuable lesson in having enough operating capital. Ms. Freland’s current company MSS is going 16 years strong.

Automotive leader Henry Ford’s first company went out of business. His second and third companies also flopped. Mr. Ford’s confidence was unscathed and he went on to become one of the greatest and most admired entrepreneurs in American history.

2. You Become Resilient

The old adage “what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” holds true for entrepreneurs. To thrive we have to develop thick skin and posses unwavering faith. If we fail, we must pick ourselves up and try again.

Award winning author Mare Cromwell self-published her first book and printed 10,000 copies to sell. Unfortunately for her, she only sold 2,400 copies and the other 7,600 collected dust in her basement over the years. With the support of friends, Ms. Cromwell self-published another book that has received several awards, and is even being considered for a movie script.

“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” – Bernice Johnson Reagon

3. It Causes You to Evolve Being an entrepreneur is all about growing and learning through diverse experiences. When you make mistakes, you’ll learn what not to do next time.

Darryl Jones, Co-founder of Global Housing Alliance, learned to appreciate success daily and not take anything for granted. His previous company of 15 years folded in 2009 as a result of the U.S. housing market collapse. He believed one of his mistakes was having the company too dependent upon him for capital. Mr. Jones eventually bounced back and combined forces with other like-minded individuals to form his current company – which does not rely on him as its sole source of funding, and is an even stronger venture than before.

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” ― Andy Rooney

Do not allow failure or the fear of failure to paralyze you from getting started or starting over. The only limitations you have are the ones you put on yourself — It’s all mental. You only truly fail when you quit trying.

Written by Jamilah Corbitt


9 Ways Doctors Can Generate More Revenue

As a medical professional, how will you respond to falling fees, rising costs and higher taxes? Here are 9 ways you can continue to enjoy the personal, professional and financial rewards that attracted you to a career in medicine.

Stop losing money.  A penny saved is a penny earned.

  1. Address your billing practices. A medical billing expert remembers the day his new client showed him his “Porsche drawer” filled with rejected insurance claims.  This physician knew that if he contested the rejections, he could fund his dream car; he just never found time. Are you doing everything you can to get paid for the services you render?  Most doctors see significant increases in cash flow when they turn their billing into the hands of the outsourced billing experts.
  2. Look for found money.  A practice management expert tells me that virtually every medical organization leaks money, and he knows where to look.  He guarantees his results—putting more money in doctors’ pockets by patching the leaks.
  3. Protect yourself against fraud.  Do you have checks and balances in place to help keep your honest employees honest?  A colleague told me that she should have listened to her intuition about her “trusted office manager.”  She discovered that over the years, this person embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Get paid more. You can increase your practice revenue through ethical, professional approaches.

  1. Identify profitable activities. Mine your billing data to get a handle on the revenue generated by each of your daily activities.  In a fee-for-service practice model, you exchange your time for money. Calculate your “hourly wage” for each procedure you perform or kind of patient you see. Then consider the level of personal and professional rewards you get with each activity. From that you can gain clarity about what your ideal day looks like.  You may decide to narrow your scope of services. You may find a “sweet spot” like the dentist who discovered he likes working with phobic patients. There are any number of ways you can attract more of those best-fit patients.
  2. Add services.  If you run a busy practice, it might make sense to set up an in-house formulary that could increase your patients’ medication compliance as well as generate more revenue.  Maybe you consider adding a cosmetic service for which patients pay out-of-pocket. Maybe you decide to hire physician assistants or nurse practitioners so that you can spend more of your time  engaged in sweet-spot activities.
  3. Sell products.  Consider offering products that help patients achieve the desired medical outcomes. A veterinarian could sell pet food, toys and educational materials.  A dermatologist could sell skin care products.  I met a pulmonologist who created an effective smoking cessation program, which he sells nationally through his practice.

Earn outside of your clinical practice.  Your value transcends your ability to diagnose and treat individual patients.  You can help many people in many different ways, and get paid for it.

  1. Moonlight.  You could serve as an expert in medical malpractice lawsuits.  The benefits include your ability to review cases on your own schedule, generate a high hourly wage and gain insights that made me a better doctor. You could take locums positions, serve as a director in medically-supervised weight loss programs,or get on staff at assisted living facilities.
  2. Shift to a non-clinical career. You could offer leadership to medical organizations, launch a business venture or work in companies that sell medical products and services. You might consider generating revenue through speaking or writing or coaching.
  3. Make investments.  You can make your money work for you.  Be sure to vet any business opportunity with an expert who can evaluate the level of risk and impact on your bigger financial picture. You can help people across the globe, educate people whom you never personally met and deliver value in unique ways.  This offers unprecedented opportunities for you.

I do not believe the golden age of medicine is over; I think it’s just beginning.

by Vicki Rackner, MD


Vicki Rackner MD, President of www.MedicalBridges.com, helps doctors enjoy the personal, professional and financial rewards that attracted them to a career in medicine.  She leverages her experiences as a surgeon, clinical faculty at the University of Washington School of Medicine and entrepreneur to help physicians and dentists thrive in the era of ObamaCare. 

Four Ways to Reduce Your Malpractice Risks

As a physician, the fear of a malpractice lawsuit will always be present. But knowing you are doing all you can to prevent one from occurring can help set your mind at ease. Providing excellent clinical care can, of course, reduce the likelihood of an error that leads to a lawsuit, but the clinical side is not the only area to focus on.

Great communication between physicians and patients can reduce malpractice risks in many ways, says Jeffrey D. Brunken, president of physician insurer MGIS. When you have a trusting rapport with patients, studies show that they are more likely to disclose all of their relevant medical information. Perhaps even more important to risk management, great communication fosters a strong relationship with patients, which, also, according to several studies, reduces the likelihood a patient will sue if a problem arises, says Brunken. “Errors are always going to happen,” he says. “Generally, reducing risk involves, ‘How do you reduce the risk when bad things do happen?’”

Here are a few key communication strategies Brunken says physicians should employ when interacting with patients:

  • Don’t dismiss (or appear to dismiss) the patient’s concerns.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Set realistic expectations.
  • Provide clear answers.

Sue Larsen, president and director of education at Astute Doctor Education, Inc., which provides online education and resources specializing in physician interpersonal skills, says physicians should also be aware of, and actively avoid, four communication missteps that increase the likelihood of a lawsuit. She says avoid interactions that make the patient feel: devalued, misunderstood, deserted, or misinformed. Just as physicians’ interactions with patients are critical, so are staff members’ interactions with them, says Larsen, noting that poor customer service leads to poor patient satisfaction, which increases the likelihood of a lawsuit.

Here are four ways to ensure that your staff is not putting you at risk:

  1. Require excellent professional etiquette. Staff members need to be cognizant that their conversations with other staff, such as discussions about kids, TV shows, and so on, may be overheard by patients, says Robin Diamond, an attorney and registered nurse who serves as the chief patient safety officer at malpractice insurer The Doctors Company. Those conversations, especially if inappropriate, can be very off-putting to some patients.
  2. Make sure staff members explain delays. Long waits, with little or no explanation, are very frustrating to patients. To reduce the frustration, staff should explain delays to patients and share regular updates, says Larsen.
  3. Provide training on difficult patient encounters. Angry or demanding patients may dish out their frustration on staff, so they play a big role in whether these situations are handled appropriately. Diamond recommends holding training sessions in which staff and physicians role play difficult patient encounters so that everyone is comfortable with and knowledgeable about how to handle these situations.
  4. Ask staff to serve as your eyes and ears. Front-desk staff should observe patient reactions and emotions as they are leaving your practice. If patients leave upset, staff should inform the physicians and/or managers, who can then call the patient later to check in, says Brunken. That check- in call, he says, could be the difference between a damaged patient relationship, and a more positive one.



Source: physicianspractice.com