Q1 2022 Newsletter
From the Desk of the CEO
Hello all. It’s been two years now since Covid turned our collective worlds upside down, and we finally have a sense that we are re-emerging. We have been having good luck hiring, and the revolving door of staff coming and going seems to have stopped swinging. We’re hoping that you’re experiencing that as well!
A few things to update you on:
- As I’m sure you can all attest to, the last two years have been exceptionally challenging. Continually being short-staffed or understaffed and learning how to work remotely has had an unanticipated impact on our operations. And it’s not just that PMRG has faced challenges. We know that many of you have dealt with being short-staffed. The insurance companies have as well. This has made getting the work done to our normal standards difficult and has slowed down many of the routine processes we’ve counted on. We have dedicated 2022 to getting everything cleaned up and the restoration of our normal operations – albeit with a largely remote billing staff!
- Like you, we are dealing with the rising costs of being in business. Our healthcare cost, which is our third largest recurring cost, went up 28% this year. In addition (and understandably), our payroll, which is our largest expense, has risen 15% to 20% across the board. People are asking for and getting higher pay. We have no intention of changing our rate structure – so what we need to do is figure out how to do more with the same level of staffing, or how to better leverage available technology tools. We are at work on this!
- We are working on additional services we can offer you that are correlated with our core business of revenue cycle management. We have some exciting things in the hopper! More on that in coming months.
Finally, thank you for your continued trust and partnership. We never forget who we’re working for.
By Jana Holt
As healthcare providers, you improve the lives of many of your patients, leading to rewarding physician-patient relationships. Occasionally, however, you must also deal with displeased, upset, angry and even violent patients who may be unhappy with the care they received. These situations can range from an angry letter written by a patient, to a verbal confrontation in the office, to even a violent physical assault on the physicians and/or members of staff.
The most common scenario that a physician or his/her staff deal with is malicious oral and/or written criticism regarding the care received, the fee(s) charged for services provided, ultimatums for a refund or refusal to pay for a bill, and sometimes threats of litigation. Some patients use more modern methods to express dissatisfaction by posting on social media any frustration or displeasure with the care received. Some choose to leave a bad review online for the physician or practice.
It is important to have internal policies in place when confronted with a difficult patient. These policies should include:
- How to assess the severity of the situation and its impact on the physician, staff or other patients present in the office (if applicable).
- The chain of command. Each employee, supervisor and manager should know their specific responsibilities in dealing with a difficult or angry patient.
- When to call authorities (security, police, etc.) as well as the contact information for the agency that would need to be notified.
Recognition of worrisome behaviors and prompt discussion between the physician and staff about how to proceed are undoubtedly the best first steps in managing the patient before his/her behavior becomes out of control.
If the physician and any designated staff members have made attempts to reason with and accommodate the patient but conclude that the patient’s behavior has become so inappropriate that the physician can no longer provide the needed care, there may be no other recourse but to terminate the physician/patient relationship.
Most patients do not become angry at their physician or his/her staff and are grateful for the care they receive. However, in those cases where a patient’s behavior is unmanageable, having a plan in place to deal with unacceptable behavior is important to minimize any risk to your patients, your staff or yourself.
This month we’d like to introduce you to Kristi Shackelford, a billing manager for PMRG since July 2021. Kristi currently manages three clients with three billers. Along with the billers, Kristi is responsible for the daily activities of the billing office for each client. She works in two different practice management systems: Nextech Select and Nextech Practice Plus.
Kristi has worked in healthcare in one form or another for more than 30 years; she has done several different aspects of billing for about 20 of those years. Most recently before PMRG, she was the manager for a busy retina practice, and an interim administrator.
Kristi is an avid reader—she usually has an actual book to read plus an audiobook for when sitting down to read isn’t possible. Her ideal relaxation time is reading on the beach. She also enjoys travel, movies, music, going to concerts, seeing musicals, and spending time outdoors.
Kristi enjoys spending time with her family, and friends who are like family. She has two children and has been married for 24 years.
Kristi enjoys working remotely and loves a challenge, of which there are plenty in medical billing! She enjoys working for a company where the owners are compassionate about their employees and enthusiastic about the work the company does.
We’re proud to have Kristi as one of our staff!