For doctors’ offices, the days of using paper to manage the billing may soon be over. The use of practice management software designed to streamline billing and insurance claims has been the norm for more than a decade.
In 2014, however, the Affordable Care Act pushed things a step further, requiring the conversion of patients’ medical records into an electronic format and incentivizing the development of a new breed of medical practice management software. This would lead to the creation of software that could seamlessly integrate data from electronic health records into financial operations within a unified platform.
The result was Harris CareTracker.
What Is Harris CareTracker?
CareTracker is computer software that automates most day-to-day operations in small to mid-sized doctors’ offices. Both clinical and administrative staff use it with the goal of improving productivity and boosting revenue through greater efficiency.
Harris Healthcare, one of the first companies to introduce early practice management software, offers several versions of CareTracker to meet the needs of individual providers. Some versions manage only electronic medical records while others are used exclusively for billing. Its most advanced version is an all-in-one, cloud-based system that does both without the need for practices to maintain separate servers and an extensive IT department.
Designed by medical billing specialists and practice administrators, CareTracker is a role-based system that optimizes workflow for front office staff, clinicians, billing specialists, and administrators based on their position.
Access to patients’ sensitive medical data is limited to clinical roles, but the information required for financial operations flows between departments. By bridging the gaps in communication between the clinical and business sides of medicine, the software helps team members better manage practice resources and use their time more effectively.
For doctors and nurses, it means having more hours to spend with patients. For administrative staff members, it means not having to wait for the information they need to do their jobs.
How Does Harris CareTracker Work?
Team members interface with CareTracker through an interactive, easy-to-read dashboard that organizes and prioritizes daily tasks unique to their needs.
Front Office Staff Uses of CareTracker
Scheduling Appointments and Managing Practice Resources
From their dashboard, front office staff members can visualize and manage practice resources at a glance. When a patient needs to see a doctor and have an EKG done by a nurse on the same day, schedulers can quickly identify slots when both providers and the necessary equipment are available.
Communicating with Patients
Verifying appointments is a proven way to minimize costly no-shows. CareTracker automates the patient reminder process and makes changes in the schedule automatically when a visit is canceled.
CareTracker also manages a waitlist and highlights appointments that require changing due to scheduling conflicts. Last minute cancellations can be filled in, maximizing provider productivity, and patients can be informed promptly if a visit needs to be postponed, improving service satisfaction.
For follow-up care, the software allows staff to schedule communication with patients when a visit is due instead of planning appointments far in advance when neither patients nor providers are sure they’ll be available.
Improving the timeliness of communication improves patient compliance, minimizing last-minute rescheduling and costly downtime.
Tracking Demographic and Insurance Data
With CareTracker, the claims process begins at check-in. Personal information and insurance data are verified, assuring the information needed for billing is both complete and accurate. Patient consents and other information, such as a list of persons approved to receive medical information, helps staff receiving calls route them effectively to the appropriate provider.
Verifying Insurance Eligibility
Confirming insurance eligibility before a patient sees a provider helps guide revenue-positive treatment decisions. Patients can be advised before receiving care if a policy has lapsed, and doctors know which services to perform or defer based on coverage and the patient’s clinical and financial needs.
For medical staff, practice management software organizes workflow and helps manage patient care. The clinical dashboard prioritizes tasks, gives providers medical decision-making support, and allows data to be accessed and input from a single portal. This not only streamlines care, but it also helps generate revenue.
Use of CareTracker by Doctors and Nurses
Viewing the Schedule
Clinicians can see who and what to expect at the start of the day, as well as get prompt notification of changes in the schedule.
Identifying Priority Tasks
Medical providers have long lists of practical tasks to accomplish daily. Viewing diagnostic reports, signing orders, refilling prescriptions, and making referrals are just a few.
The clinical dashboard prioritizes these responsibilities, highlights those that are overdue, and gives doctors quick access to the necessary clinical information they need to act on each item. Direct electronic links to laboratories, pharmacies, and other providers make each process more efficient.
Providing Patient Education
Harris Healthcare knows patient education is essential, but time consuming. To streamline the process, it has partnered with a company that designs a wide range of educational materials.
CareTracker has a database of aftercare instructions for over a thousand procedures. Doctors can print out fact sheets detailing thousands of medical conditions in multiple languages, ensuring their patients leave the office well informed.
For clinicians, managing care is where medical practice management software excels. From reading lab reports and prior visits, to viewing medication lists and a summary of current complaints, doctors can see a patient’s entire clinical picture with just a few clicks.
Because the CareTracker dashboard highlights overdue services, providers have the opportunity to offer them while the patient is in the building, a move that not only improves the quality of care but also boosts revenue.
From the same portal, providers also enter medical data during visits, ensuring that each service they provide is accurately captured for billing. In some cases, data flows automatically to claim forms, improving accuracy and speeding reimbursement. Billing specialists no longer have to decipher handwritten notes or lose opportunities to capture revenue because of missing information.
The most important benefit medical practice management software offers, however, is timely billing.
Use of CareTracker by Billing Specialists
Because billing in CareTracker starts when the patient checks in, the process is straightforward and accurate. Front office staff verifies demographics and eligibility information, and clinicians enter data for each service provided during a visit.
By the time the patient reaches checkout, the billing specialist knows the estimated amount of the insurance claim and can collect the copayment promptly, a practice proven to improve revenue.
The billing dashboard also helps manage collections. Staff can contact patients about overdue balances, set up a recurring payment plan, or accept payments through one of CareTracker’s affiliated financial partners. By expanding the number of payment options available, patients can pay sooner.
To prepare claim forms for submission, billing specialists must add the required ICD-10 (diagnosis) and CPT (procedure) codes. These are alphanumeric sequences that classify diagnoses and services into specific categories that help drive insurers’ reimbursement decisions.
Once a time intensive, error prone task, coding is easier with CareTracker due to the improved flow and accuracy of clinical information and comprehensive code lookup tools.
Claims submission is entirely electronic through CareTracker, eliminating faxing and mailing. Before a claim is submitted, the software automatically compares it to rules set forth by the insurer.
Harris Healthcare works with over a thousand insurance companies to ensure their rules based checks are up-to-date and accurate. Claims with errors are put on hold for further review, a feature which, according to Harris, improves the initial approval rate to 97 percent.
CareTracker’s billing dashboard makes tracking insurance claims easy. Task lists are prioritized and show which are pending, which need attention, and which are ready for submission.
The status of overdue claims can be checked electronically and issues addressed promptly to prevent payment delays, a critical part of maintaining a practice’s cashflow.
Other CareTracker Benefits
CareTracker helps administrators manage a practice’s overall clinical and financial performance, two things that go hand-in-hand.
A dedicated dashboard monitors progress toward meeting meaningful use requirements, regulations mandating the use of electronic medical records to improve care quality, safety and efficiency, and highlighting areas of success, as well as those that need work. Since compliance with these rules is necessary to participate in government insurance programs, it’s a significant financial issue.
CareTracker also offers extensive analytics. With reports that analyze figures from the amount of revenue generated per visit to the loss of income due to claims errors, managers can identify problem areas and develop targeted solutions.
To reduce staff training costs, CareTracker has an extensive self-training function and learning library. In addition to in-person and telephone support from Harris Healthcare, staff can take advantage of continuing education opportunities and independently learn how to maximize the software’s potential.
Medical practice management software is revolutionizing the way doctors care for patients. By combining clinical and business workflows into a single, comprehensive platform, systems like CareTracker help physicians save staff time, improve the quality of care, cut infrastructure costs, raise productivity, and enhance necessary revenue.
At a time when practices are struggling with the financial burdens of regulation and insurers are reimbursing based on the quality of care, it’s a win-win.
Interested in learning more about the role of Harris CareTracker and how it is used by a medical billing specialist? Are you ready for a rewarding career as a medical biller or medical office administration specialist?
The Medical Billing Specialist and Medical Office Administration programs at Hunter Business School on Long Island prepare billing and coding students to obtain entry-level employment specializing in medical related billing and coding in physicians’ offices, clinics, medical insurance companies, and hospitals.
The Medical Billing Specialist program is a three month diploma program available in the evening. The Medical Office Administration program is five months during the day and ten months in the evening.
Contact us today to find out more about how to become a medical biller or medical office administration specialist on Long Island.