Top 5 Items on Physicians' 2015 To-Do List

January 8, 2015

The start of the New Year begs that a to-do list be formed. For medical practices, these five items should be at the top.

There is no doubt that 2015 will be nothing short of dynamic in healthcare. The list that follows is a must for physicians, who want to increase or maintain practice revenues, as well as be compliant with regulatory guidelines.

1. ICD-10. Given the series of delays physicians and hospitals have already experienced over the past several years in relation to implementation, it may be wishful thinking that it could be delayed even further. With the effective date slated for October 1, 2015, here are three items physicians should do now: 1) contact private insurers; 2) evaluate documentation practices both in the hospital and in the doctor's office; and 3) make sure EHRs meet the requisite standards.

2. HIPAA. Over the past year, more agencies than just HHS have issued fines and penalties for noncompliance. Companies have faced judgments in court under common law causes of action, as well as fines by insurance commissioners. Three things that can mitigate HIPAA noncompliance are adequate policies and procedures, utilizing encryption at rest and in transit, and providing unique user IDs and passwords.

3.King v. Burwell. This is a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that addresses the impact of utilizing a state exchange versus a federal exchange and the impact on the tax credit associated with the Affordable Care Act.

4. E-prescribing of controlled substances. While not all states have standards in place, the Drug Enforcement Agency has issued guidance on the standards that need to be met in order to prescribe controlled substances via electronic prescription. Physicians should consult the DEA's website, contact their state pharmacy board and various pharmacies to make sure that they are in compliance.

5. Patient satisfaction surveys. Whether the patient is in an acute-care setting or a palliative-care setting, these surveys are required. They can also impact reimbursement. Physicians should take time to evaluate their bedside manner, solicit feedback from patients and family, and work with various groups within the hospital to improve the overall patient (and family) experience.

There are a lot of items that physicians will need to pay attention to this year. Being proactive can ease the stress later on and make for a more fruitful year, while enhancing patient care.