Are You Ready for MACRA?

How do you define the success of your Practice?

What's the formula for defining Success in your practice?

Is it based upon the profits you earn?  Or, how about the difference you make in the lives of those for whom you care?  To truly care for your patients effectively, you need to be profitable.  And, to be profitable, you need to know your financial numbers and what strategies to employ to make a difference in your bottom line.  Knowing your numbers is like knowing the score of a game you are playing.  When you know the score, you know what strategies you need to employ to win the game.

If you are a physician or healthcare provider that cares for Medicare beneficiaries, you should have a full understanding of the MACRA payment program.  It’s likely that you have heard of the program, but you may still have questions about how it will affect you.  Do you know what you can do to increase your MACRA goals to have an impact on your profits?

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has developed a Toolkit to assist you.  This toolkit details the MACRA requirements, explains how the payment structure will impact your scoring potential, and suggests strategies that you can incorporate the patient-centered medical home model to improve your MACRA Score.  You can use the virtual toolkit at anytime by simply registering to use it.

GET THE TOOLKIT

Learn to Be a Winner!  Use this toolkit to explore case studies and improve your scores- it’s a formula and strategy worth knowing.

Mike DeVries is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™, Enrolled Agent,  and a Certified Healthcare Business Consultant focusing on helping healthcare professionals. If you would like to learn more about becoming a client, contact Mike at www.vmde.com.

Benefits of a Cash Balance Plan – FREE Webinar

Save Taxes by Contributing to a Cash Balance Qualified Retirement Plan

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Cash Balance Plan

Join me as I host this informational FREE Webinar on the Benefits of a Cash Balance Plan

 

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This Webinar is for you if:

  • You are paying 33% or more income tax on your income
  • You desire to save taxes
  • You have extra cash flow that you wish to save on a pre-tax basis

If you want to…

  • Fund more than what your 401(k) plan will allow
  • Provide for a disparity in retirement funding between business owners
  • Create more flexibility in your funding

This Webinar on the Benefits of a Cash Balance Plan will help you gain an understanding of this type of Qualified Retirement Plan and achieve the above objectives.

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The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Internal General (OIG) recently published this video on their website after entering into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with eClinicalWorks for $155 million dollars.  The OIG is showcasing this settlement as an example to other Electronic Health Record (EHR) vendors.  eClinicalWorks, on the other hand, is moving forward as dominant player in the EHR space and admitting no wrong.

What is the take away for physicians? Be certain that you have business procedures and compliance training in place to protect your business.

  • The matter of healthcare fraud is being taken seriously.  In addition to fulfilling their duty to protect the public, the work of the OIG offers a large source of revenue for the government.  Take time to Review the OIG’s workplan each year.  Here is the OIG’s 2017 Workplan.
  • Be sure that all your employees (including you) are up to date on the required annual compliance training and mandate that employees notify you of any known activities that may be considered out of compliance.
  • Your EHR or other Practice Management Software vendors are at risk of Fraud and Abuse audits.  Even if they aren’t found guilty of actual fraudulent activities, the cost to defend such a case can be financially harmful and impact the ability to support your business.  So, know your healthcare software partners well.  Look to the purchase agreement to protect your business on the front-end of a purchase by making certain that you are able to get your data if you need to make a switch in vendors.

Mike DeVries is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™, Enrolled Agent,  and a Certified Healthcare Business Consultant focusing on helping healthcare professionals. If you would like to learn more about becoming a client, contact Mike at www.vmde.com.

Recruiting a New Doctor? Offer a Student Loan Repayment Program

New Doctor Associate

Student debt has become a major financial factor for new medical and dental graduates.  Your new associate doctor is likely to have student debt in the range of $260,000 or more. Rather than looking for a position that offers the benefits of ownership with an independent practice, younger doctors are seeking positions with a secure paycheck.  Adding a student loan repayment assistance program to your compensation offering will put you one step ahead of your competitors seeking to hire the same candidate.

New recruits offered this benefit are more likely to accept a position.  They are also less likely to leave, if it means leaving their student loan repayment assistance program behind.  Hospitals and larger corporate employers, in the dental profession, have been offering these benefits for years. Independent practices that address their potential associates’ concerns about student debt when making an initial offer of employment, stand a better chance to successfully hire their desired candidate.

To make your offer even more attractive, get creative with your benefits.  Consider offering a salary amount along with an upfront low-interest loan that can be used to jump-start the reduction of the student debt.  You can structure increased contributions to be made based upon determined factors that align with your business goals.  Your goals might include a vesting schedule based upon length of employment, taking on new business, or becoming a business partner.

The tuition assistance payment that is made on behalf of your employee is a taxable benefit. However, the company contribution, or the “jump-start” loan, will provide a favorable interest savings to your new doctor employee.

Mike DeVries is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™, Enrolled Agent,  and a Certified Healthcare Business Consultant focusing on helping healthcare professionals. If you would like to learn more about becoming a client, contact Mike at www.vmde.com.

Guidance on Ransom-ware Attacks

Top 10 List to Protecting Yourself from Ransomware

In July, 2016 the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights issued guidance intended to help healthcare entities understand and respond to ransom-ware attacks.

ransom ware touchscreen is operated by businessman.

Ransom-ware is a type of malware that denies a user’s access to its electronic data by encrypting the data with a “key” known only to the perpetrating hacker.  After the malware is deployed, the hacker demands that the user pay a ransom (often the request is made in cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, to preserve the hacker’s anonymity) to obtain the key and decrypt the data.  However, there are no guarantees that once the ransom is paid will the hacker provide the necessary key.

According to the report issued, there have been 4,000 daily ransom-ware attacks since early 2016 (a 300% increase over the 1,000 daily ransom-ware attacks reported in 2015).  Doesn’t that seem incredible? Why would these people target businesses such as yours?  Here are some thoughts:

  • They know it’s where the money is
  • They know that they can cause some major business disruption, which will put you in a very vulnerable position
  • Because through the business their dirty deeds reach a more extensive system – networks of computers, and cloud-based systems may be impacted
  • Because small business, especially healthcare providers, are often not well prepared to deal with these types of cyber attacks

After reading the HHS report, I set out to build a checklist that would help prevent this from happening to me and you, my client.  Here is my “Top 10 List to Protecting Yourself from Ransom-ware”:

  1. Back-up your data and make sure it works!  Having a couple of backups may even be a good idea – using an external drive that is removed from your office and using a cloud-based back-up system.  Side-note: Whatever backup system you may use for Protected Patient Information be sure it is HIPAA compliant and that it follows security management process described in your policies.
  2. Keep your computer operating system up to date.  New updates are issued often that contain fixes to security issues.  The same is true for the software you use – check for updates often.
  3. Use extreme caution when you are on-line and using the Internet.  Know your sites and stay away from any pop-up ad campaigns.
  4. Never open spam mail or mail from unknown senders.  If the subject line of the e-mail I receive is empty, or, if the e-mail looks even somewhat suspicious, it gets the “shift-delete” treatment.  It doesn’t even get a chance to reside in my trash bin.
  5. Use caution when downloading files, opening files, or clicking on hyperlinks – know your sources!  If you ever do open a suspicious file by mistake, shut off your Internet connection.
  6. Have security software installed and keep your subscription up to date.  One the best ways to protect against a virus is to have defenses in place to ensure you never receive any in the first place.
  7. Keep your system locked down when you are not using it and never share your password with another user.  And, I hate to say it – don’t keep your password on a sticky note placed on your computer (yes, I see this frequently).
  8. Keep your employees privileges locked down on your network.  Make it difficult for them to do their on-line shopping, visiting unknown websites, or social media sites on your business computer.
  9. Don’t let your children or grandchildren on your computer – I’m serious! Over the years I have tried to fix more computer problems as a result of kids games and files they download.  Give them their own gaming or computer system and keep them off your computer.
  10. Don’t pay the ransom. Even if we follow the above checklist, it’s possible we could find ourselves subject to a cyber-criminal.  Paying the criminal only puts you in a position of being a repeat customer.

Computers have become an integral part of the way in which we do business today.  I find myself being in a love, hate relationship.  I love the efficiencies and conveniences they provide.   I hate the damage they can cause to relationships, work / family time, and our pocket-book.  I’m probably not going to eliminate technology from my life any time soon.  In fact, my use will likely only increase with time – so, I guess it just makes sense to be smart in the way in which we use them.  Hopefully, this checklist will help us both in making life with them just a little better and little safer.

If you are interested in receiving a copy of the HHS report,  go to http://mikeldevries.com/HHSReport for a pdf copy.

Mike DeVries is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™, Enrolled Agent,  and a Certified Healthcare Business Consultant focusing on helping healthcare professionals. If you would like to learn more about becoming a client, contact Mike at www.vmde.com.

A Budget – Personal Financial Management

Financial Planning Steps that Put you in Control

Today we are living in an uncertain economy.  There is talk of changing and increasing taxes, of a failing Social Security system and of skyrocketing educational costs.  Given the various financial uncertainties, it is more important than ever for you to apply financial planning principles to your personal life.  Budgeting is one of these key principles.

Budget Financial Planning

The majority of American households are in significant debt.  According to a study in Time Magazine – May, 2016, the average American household has total debt of $90,000, which includes households that live debt free.  The average households with debt owes more than $130,000.  This debt burden is costing the average household more than $6,600 in interest per year – about 9% of the average income.

Many do not have a budget and as a result most households have no idea where they spent their money last year.  A personal budget can provide this information and can help you take control of your financial life.

Bake My Day – A Recipe for Patient Satisfaction

The Secrete Sauce for Marketing a Doctor's Services

He called on Mother’s Day.  “May I speak to her?”, he asked.  My jaw dropped as I listened to my fifteen-year-old daughter, who was recovering from ACL knee surgery, talk with her Orthopedic Surgeon.  He was calling just to see how she was feeling. Even though my wife provided our daughter’s current status and answered all his questions, he wanted to take a minute to talk with the patient for whom he cared. It was awesome that Dr. Steward called to check in with his patient. One might even expect such a call.  But, when he ended the conversation with my wife asking – “May I speak to her?” – he just created an awesome experience – patient satisfaction for both the patient and her parents.  It was as if he put extra sprinkles on a baked cake…marketing at its finest.

Top of Easter cake covered with white icing and sprinkled with color pops. Candy background.

Build an Exceptional Team – Start with Position Descriptions

Free Position Description Templates

Having clearly defined Position Descriptions is the first step in the process building the right team for your office.  I often receive questions from clients related to staffing issues in their office. And, I often answer their question with a question – What does your position descriptions say?

Position Description

Assess & Measure Your Hygiene Department [Podcast]

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Hygiene Practice

Episode 012

Doctors Business Management Show

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Are you maximizing your Hygiene Practice? Productive, Profitable Dental Practices always have a productive hygiene department.

Your Dental Hygienist is an important member of  your team in assisting your patients with their oral care.  Under the new government health reform, which includes mandatory oral health benefits for children and young adults up to 21 years old, the role of your hygienist will continue to evolve and expand.  In addition to the role of your Hygienist and the work they do for your patients, the business aspects of this segment of your business are also very important to the overall profitability and success of your practice.  In this episode, Mike and team members, Mary Millar, RDH, BS, and Ben Lane CPA, JD discuss Measuring Key Hygiene Department Business Components to improve the bottom line of your Dental Practice.

What's good for Your Patient, is good for Your Practice. - Michael L. DeVries, CFP®, CHBC, EA Click To Tweet

 

Providing Staff Evalutions for Your Office Staff

Any conscientious healthcare business practitioner for various reasons can easily overlook evaluating office staff. Two basic reasons are: one, it is extra work; and second, many doctors simply believe that all is working well in their offices and do not want to “rock the boat”.  Yet, it is very important for you to know that your office is operating as efficiently as it can, and with a well-planned, routinely conducted staff evaluation program, you can achieve several advantages.

Accurately Evaluating Your Office Staff