Most physicians would tell you that they already spend too much time on documentation and coding. Adding insult to injury, after the coding job is done we often have to explain their decisions to medical coders, a process which can take as long as 20 minutes, according to vendor Artifact Health.
Artifact hopes to take the pain out of the burdensome physician query process. It offers a mobile app allowing doctors to answer coding queries which it says allow them to resolve problems within just three clicks. Physicians can also access the platform on the desktop.
Its approach bears some relationship to a new product from vendor Change Healthcare, which has just launched RCM technology which helps doctors address claims documentation requests. Change’s Assurance Assist Module, which is part of its Assurance Reimbursement Management suite, can anticipate the documentation needs of eight payers, the company said.
I am interested in both of these approaches because I know that physicians are already struggling to manage medical coding within their own practices. Hospital queries are a challenging part of that mix and feels like a major chore for providers. In fact, if Artifact’s research is correct and each traditional query takes 20 minutes to resolve, physicians could conceivably end up a little time to do anything else.
So far, Artifact seems to be rolling along impressively. The vendor says that more than 50 hospitals have come on board with its technology, including five institutions from Johns Hopkins Medicine. According to the vendor, these hospitals solve physician response rate of almost 100% and average response time within 48 hours for all periods.
Meanwhile, the hospitals found that the time it took for claims to get paid (days in Accounts Receivable) fell substantially, Artifact reports.
Lest it sound like I’m an Artifact investor, let me raise the questions I ask every time I get a look at a new health IT startup:
- What does the software cost?
- How long does it usually take to go live with the platform?
- How much man- or woman power will it take to install and maintain the software?
At the moment I don’t know. As we all know, not only the initial investment, but also implementation and maintenance can catch hospitals by surprise.
The truth is, it’s likely any vendor addressing aspects of hospital RCM will be somewhat expensive and somewhat complex to install. I wish there were workable benchmarks giving hospital leaders a preliminary sense of their potential investment.
Regardless, this is a worthwhile area for RCM vendors to attack. Even if all this technology did was give doctors some relief, it might reach ROI over time. When you consider that tools like these can help coders get clean claims out of the door, it’s even better.