May 2017 - Techindia

Month: May 2017

Delayed Anticoagulation Treatment Raises Dementia Risk in AF Patients

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common heart irregularity affecting over 3 million American adults. The condition is characterised by irregular heartbeat and is known to lead to several other conditions such as blood clots, stroke and even cardiac arrest in patients. The treatment for AF involves the use of blood thinners, such as antiplatelets or Warfarin, but there is often a delay in starting patients on anticoagulants after the initial diagnosis due to several factors such as old age, low risk of stroke and the option to choose other treatments such as aspirin, which is not a proven treatment to reduce the risk of stroke in AF patients. Fortunately, a new research gives doctors a strong reason to prevent this delay, as starting AF patients (even those at low risk) on anti-coagulants immediately after diagnosis can help keep dementia at bay.

Recently, researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, UT, discovered a link between administration of blood thinners used to treat AF and dementia, another common condition affecting a significant part of the senior population in America.

The study, which was based on more than 76,230 AF patients with no prior history of dementia, indicated that dementia rates increased with the delay in starting anticoagulation treatment for AF with an antiplatelet or Warfarin. The results of the study were presented at Heart Rhythm 2017, the Heart Rhythm Society’s 38th Annual Scientific Sessions, in Chicago on May 12, 2017.

“Our results reinforce the importance of starting anticoagulation treatment as early as possible after a patient is diagnosed with atrial fibrillation,” said Jared Bunch, MD, director of heart rhythm research at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute and medical director for heart rhythm services for the Intermountain Healthcare system in Salt Lake City. “We saw for the first time that waiting even just 30 days to initiate anticoagulation treatment can increase a patient’s long-term risk of developing dementia.”

The research revealed that a delay of just 30 days in administering the treatment in patients with a low risk of stroke increased their chances of developing dementia by 30%. For patients at a high risk of stroke, a delay of 30 days increased their chances of developing dementia by 136%. The study, thus, reinforces the importance of treating patients diagnosed with AF without any delay to prevent the associated risk of mental decline.

AF affects a large population across the world. By leading a healthy lifestyle, patients can greatly reduce their risk of heart disease. However, once diagnosed, simply altering your lifestyle is not the solution. Apart from adopting a healthy lifestyle, it is crucial to treat AF in a timely manner with proper medication to not only reduce the risk of a stroke but also eliminate the increased risk of developing dementia with delay in treatment as indicated by the aforementioned research.

Tracking Key Hospital Revenue Cycle Metrics to Up Profitability

According to the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), revenue cycle refers to “all administrative and clinical functions that contribute to the capture, management, and collection of patient service revenue.” Thus, a revenue cycle refers to the entire engagement of a patient with a hospital, starting from registration to the final payment of dues.

Revenue cycle management or RCM in healthcare utilizes billing software to manage different aspects of the revenue cycle such as patient records, claim management, payment and revenue generation. In short, RCM helps to keep track of the financial health of a healthcare institute. Apart from that, RCM also improves operational efficiency by integrating the healthcare data of patients with administrative details such as personal details of patients and information about their insurance providers.

In a nutshell, RCM allows hospitals to follow up on patient bills, and keep track of insurance claims to make sure payments are collected in a timely manner and denied claims are followed upon, saving a substantial amount of money for the hospital.

Reviewing Operational Data – It is possible to increase profits by measuring your RCM and determining the key performance indicators (KPI) for your business. Most hospitals have systems in place to capture several kinds of financial data. However, to boost profitability, hospitals must filter this data to zero down key performance indicators that can be tracked and measured against historical data to form the basis for operational improvement.

Three main KPIs that hospitals must develop to improve profitability are Accounts Receivable, Bad Debt and Claims.

Tracking Claims – Claim management KPIs to improve claim management can save hospitals a lot of time and money. Hospitals should aim for a high clean claim rate that indicates that a hospital is being paid faster without many errors. This can be achieved by capturing correct information at the outset to prevent silly mistakes. Thus, hospitals must ensure high efficiency in patient registration and appointment scheduling for improved claim management. The hospitals must also monitor their claim denial rate, using number of claims denied in a set period as a KPI. By investigating the reasons behind these denials, overall efficiency in claim management process can be affected.

Tracking Patient Access to Accounting Metrics – In order to improve denial rates, hospitals need to go back to the starting point to improve the process of capturing patient data and insurance data. To improve profitability, hospitals must develop patient access KPIs that would include pre-registration and insurance verification rates. By spending a few minutes extra during pre-registration, hospitals can save hours in verifying information and resubmitting claims later.

To develop patient access KPIs, hospitals may want to consider measuring rates for pre-registration and insurance verification. Insurance verification, a few days before the appointment, can help boost revenues in a big way as it allows the patients sufficient time to make self-payment arrangements in case the insurance cover is not valid. Thus, hospitals must try to maintain a high pre-registration rate and aim to verify insurance for most of the registered patients.

Point of service payments must also be looked into, as more patients than ever before are self-paying for their treatment. It is important to develop KPIs to measure point-of-service collection rates to ensure that the staff is collecting patient payments before they turn into bad debt.

Apart from ensuring that data is captured accurately at the pre-registration state, in order to improve RCM, management must set realistic revenue cycle goals on an annual basis, against which the performance of importance metrics can be measured. In addition to setting goals, the management must also have a bigger picture in mind it would like to achieve by meeting the set KPIs.