Six strategies for reducing patient no-showsPosted on: 09.03.15
Patient no-shows aren’t just frustrating, they cost you time and money. Every practice would love to reduce no-shows, but the big question is, how? We’ve put together six practical tips you can use to discourage and reduce your number of no-shows.
It’s important for patients to feel some responsibility in keeping their appointment. Having them sign a written no-show policy is a way to create a greater sense of ownership. You can also consider charging for no-shows and same-day cancelations, unless it’s an emergency, of course. Requiring a signed notice is a smart way to ensure your patients are informed of the policy and will help avoid confrontation if it’s enforced.
Do you have any helpful information regarding public transportation? Maybe the bus route changes on certain days or there’s a special event in town that will impact traffic. Try not to schedule your imaging on the days it is difficult for patients that take public transportation to your office. It’s also helpful to have contact information for alternate forms of transportation, such as Uber or a taxi service should a patient’s ride fall through.
Nuclear imaging patients need to clearly understand, in advance of the appointment, that the materials used for their test are individually ordered and that they must be used within a specific window. Patients need to understand that the isotope cannot be used on the next patient and will expire if they miss their appointment.
4. Say Thanks
A good way to reduce no-shows is to encourage the behavior you want and then reward it. A monthly gift card drawing for patients who kept their appointments is a simple way to say thanks. Also, don’t forget to thank patients who reschedule in advance of your no-show policy.
Work towards accurate scheduling so patients aren’t experiencing extra long wait times. When patients believe the practice doesn’t value their time, they will not value yours. Emergencies happen, “work-ins” are sometimes necessary, but be sure you make every effort to stay on time. Running too far behind? Consider calling patients to explain and asking them to come in 30 minutes later. They may be able to stay at work a little longer or run a quick errand.
6. Follow Trends
It’s critical to track the reasons patients offer for canceling an appointment. Spotting trends in the reasons provided can help you find ways to fix the no-shows. It could be tracked down to a particular insurance carrier, a day of the week, or physician. Identifying this information can impact your bottom line.
Explore new ways to notify and remind your patients with tools like texting or e-mailing appointment reminders. Utilizing the technology your patients interface with every day is a sure-fire way to reach them.
8 Questions To Ask Before You Sign A Service ContractPosted on: 03.12.15
When you invest in your medical practice by purchasing your own imaging equipment, it is imperative your asset is well maintained and working properly. Purchasing a service contract for your camera protects your investment, and it ensures that your camera produces quality images to reliably assist in patient diagnosis. Proper maintenance of your camera is important to the vitality and efficacy of your practice, and required for accreditation and reimbursement. Service contracts provide you with the peace of mind knowing your equipment will be operating effectively, and in case of emergency malfunctions, a knowledgeable, well trained team will be ready to assist you.
Before you select a service provider, it’s important to know the right questions to ask about a service contract. Ask the potential provider these eight questions to make sure that you get everything you need from your service contract.
Before committing to a service contract, request the coverage contract in writing. Be sure to ask what the provider includes in a “full-service contract.” If the contract doesn’t cover all the camera parts and service, ask for a list of what is not covered. Typically, service providers do not cover external damage to the camera, and in some cases will not cover glass (crystal, PMTs, etc).
2. What is the coverage area?
Ask your service provider about the coverage base: is the provider a national or a local company? If your camera falls outside of their coverage area, will you have to pay a travel charge? Looking ahead into possible charges or additional paperwork will save you time and money, and if you are comparing multiple vendors, it could help with the selection process.
3. Does the contract include preventative maintenance?
Ensure your coverage plan meets the state’s regulations for maintenance of the equipment. Ask your service provider if the contract includes adequate (OEM recommended) preventative maintenance, which is required for accreditation and reimbursement.
4. What is the guaranteed uptime?
To be an effective investment, your camera must be available for operation when you and your patients need it. Service providers often promise a percentage of “guaranteed uptime” in their service contracts. Make sure you select a service provider that you are confident will provide you a high “guaranteed uptime.”
5. Who will be supporting my equipment?
Ensure that the personnel maintaining and repairing your equipment are specialists who have a detailed understanding of the equipment and receive continuous training to keep up with manufacturer updates and recommendations. Talk to your service provider to ensure that they are qualified to work on the specific system. You want personnel who have experience working with nuclear equipment and understand HIPAA requirements. Personnel working on your systems should be knowledgeable, well trained, punctual, diligent, and communicative.
6. What type of remote support is available?
Many support issues can often be resolved via remote support. Ask your service provider if remote support is available and what their hours of operations are. Also, be sure remote support covers both the equipment and software applications. When remote support is available for your entire system, the amount of downtime is decreased providing continued quality care to your patients.
7. How quickly can I expect repairs?
Talk with your service provider to find out what the typical response time is when requesting repairs. Ensure that these time frames are included in the contract so that excessive downtime doesn’t impact the productivity of your practice.
8. What updates or upgrades are included?
Often, cameras include software that can be updated and upgraded as technology changes. Ask your service provider if your contract allows for updates or upgrades. And make sure you know the difference between the two. If either of these is not covered in your contract, ask for update and upgrade pricing. It’s important your software is current; this will assist in acquiring quality images, in turn, helping you provide quality care to your patients.
Five Essential Ancillary Services for Cardiology OfficesPosted on: 01.29.15
There are dozens upon dozens of services that a cardiology office may offer. It can be overwhelming for a newly independent cardiologist to decide what technology and services to invest in first. Digirad works with thousands of cardiologists and we’ve compiled the five most essential services for any cardiologist thinking of opening his or her own office.
Perhaps most essential for any cardiology office is an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine in order to test for problems with the electrical activity of a patient’s heart. EKGs are useful for evaluating the possible causes behind unexplained chest pains as well as the efficacy of medicines and medical devices, such as a pacemaker.
Stress tests are essential for determining the amount of stress that a patient’s heart can manage before developing either an abnormal rhythm or evidence of ischemia.
Echocardiography is routinely used in the diagnosis, management, and follow-up of patients with any known or suspected heart diseases. Echocardiography can help detect cardiomyopathies, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, and many others. Currently, it is one of the most widely used diagnostic tests in cardiology. Stress echocardiography is a subset of echocardiography. By utilizing stress tests during patient evaluation, stress echocardiography may help determine whether any chest pain or associated symptoms are related to heart disease by visualizing wall motion differences between stress and rest.
SPECT Myocardial Perfusion Imaging
SPECT myocardial perfusion scan (MPI) is a nuclear cardiology procedure that highlights the function of a patient’s heart muscle. MPI is useful for diagnosing a variety of heart conditions such as coronary artery disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and heart wall motion abnormalities. Images are usually acquired at both Stress and Rest allowing physicians to evaluate heart muscle perfusion to determine normalcy, ischemic, or infarcted areas.
Full Spectrum Cardiac Rhythm Event Monitoring
Cardiac rhythm event monitoring includes a variety of noninvasive tests necessary for all cardiology offices. Among the types of monitoring tests are Holter monitoring, event monitoring, and mobile telemetry, all of which involve collecting data from the patient over a period of time for suspected cardiac arrhythmias or to measure the efficacy of treatment.
10 Myths about Mobile Imaging – Part 2Posted on: 11.05.14
Mobile imaging service is a cost, time, and resource-effective alternative to owning and operating your own Nuclear Cardiology lab, but there are understandably a number of questions around the service. Will I get paid? Are the images any good? Are the technicians qualified? These are good questions and we want to take a moment to address 10 of the most common myths we hear. Here is part two:
6. Mobile imaging is disruptive to my office
When Digirad deploys our employees to your practice, they recognize that they are invited into your practice. They proceed with their tasks seamlessly and without disrupting your office. Digirad employees are involved in all aspects of imaging procedures to assist your office staff, including post-screening and discharge procedures. Our highly trained employees integrate themselves with your practice and procedures to become an asset and contribute to the overall success of your business.
7. Mobile imaging space requirements are problematic for my office
Digirad mobile imaging can provide creative solutions for practices with little extra space and small exam rooms. With a footprint about the size of a desk, our cameras can be maneuvered into almost any exam space to perform the necessary imaging. If necessary, our dedicated employees may rearrange exam rooms to fit the camera, and when the procedure is over, they restore the exam room to its original layout. The added advantage is that this space is available for you to provide other services to your patients on days you are not performing imaging.
8. Mobile imaging cameras are not able to perform all the cardiac imaging studies that a stationary camera can
Digirad’s mobile imaging cameras have the capability to perform Nuclear Cardiology studies, including MUGA studies and Stress/Rest SPECT.
9. My practice is too busy to worry about pre-certifications and other requirements necessary to bill and collect
Digirad offers busy practices a service that performs pre-certifications. The practice provides access to the basic information and our team can complete the necessary forms to obtain authorizations. In addition, our Reimbursement Support team can assist you with any billing questions or concerns.
10. Using a mobile imaging vendor does not allow me to have control over the personnel and imaging process
Your office oversees Digirad’s mobile imaging equipment and staff, which means that the lead physician supervises Digirad staff. Your practice can maintain complete autonomy and control while using our experienced staff to assist with in-house imaging services. Additionally, our service provides you with more oversight than sending your patients to a hospital or imaging center.
10 Myths about Mobile Imaging – Part 1Posted on: 10.30.14
Mobile imaging service is a cost, time, and resource-effective alternative to owning and operating your own Nuclear Cardiology lab, but there are understandably a number of questions around the service. Will I get paid? Are the images any good? Is the staff qualified? These are good questions and we want to take a moment to address 10 of the most common myths we hear.
1. Portable or Mobile imaging cameras do not provide the same quality images or accuracy as a fixed imaging camera.
Digirad’s mobile imaging cameras use digital solid-state circuitry that is more advanced than most other fixed or stationary cameras in the market. Our platform is high quality, stable, and reliable, so we can convert our technology into a mobile, portable format. Digirad’s mobile imaging cameras are dependable and used in luminary institutions. The images that mobile cameras produce are of equal or often better quality to, and as diagnostically accurate as, the images produced by stationary or fixed camera systems.
2. Mobile camera operators are not as well-trained or committed to providing accurate, quality images.
Digirad employs highly skilled personnel with specific imaging and personality skill sets. These highly technical professionals also undergo a thorough screening process prior to being hired. Upon starting with Digirad, all technologists undergo extensive training on our systems, on our processes, and on customer service. They also benefit from our continuous improvement processes, ongoing education, and evaluations. This ensures that our employees are held to higher quality standards which include customer and patient satisfaction requirements. Digirad also offers our employees quarterly incentives that are issued for outstanding performance.
3. Mobile imaging is not allowed under Medicare.
Many physicians are concerned that mobile imaging is not regulatory-compliant and accepted under Medicare because it is not performed at a hospital. However, Digirad’s service is regulatory compliant under Medicare, and further, we are accredited by and through the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission. Our services and models are independently audited to ensure federal and state compliance.
4. Insurance companies will not pay for, or pay less for, mobile imaging.
The vast majority of insurance companies do not have a preference for mobile or stationary cameras. Insurance companies provide reimbursement based on accreditation. Through our Diagnostic Services, our clients are fully accredited by IAC which is recognized by CMS and by private payers. Digirad clients also have access to national reimbursement consultants at no additional charge. Our Diagnostic Services provide solutions for the various challenges that physicians, healthcare systems, and hospitals face.
5. Mobile imaging is too expensive, and my practice will lose money.
This is simply not true. Mobile imaging is a very cost efficient approach to providing SPECT myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) for your patients. When you own a Nuclear Cardiology Lab, the biggest financial challenge is that your fixed costs (equipment, repair & maintenance, licensing, physics consultation, accreditation fees, accreditation consultation, etc.) per study can continue to increase. With our As Need, When Needed, Where Needed approach, that is never an issue. Using our mobile services allows your practice to pay-as-you-go with a known cost basis that results in known profitability to provide these services for your patients. Without the fixed overhead cost, Digirad mobile imaging is a very cost efficient choice for practices who desire high-quality imaging services at a lower price.
Trade-in and Upgrade your Equipment with Digirad’s Technology Refresh ProgramPosted on: 07.17.14
Frequent advances in technology, regulatory changes, and reductions in reimbursements can diminish the efficiency and value of your nuclear imaging services. In today’s healthcare market, you need to provide the highest quality at the lowest cost to drive true value for your practice and the patients you serve. The way you have always done things is likely not the optimal way any more.
If you’re looking to get more value from your current equipment, Digirad’s Technology Refresh Program can help you reduce expenses and improve your equipment with no direct expense to your practice.
Here are a few things to consider…
- What do you want to do with your nuclear imaging lab?
- Still trying to image with a single head camera?
- Do you have an older camera, but your volumes are much lower compared to when you first purchased it?
- Do you need new technology but can’t rationalize a purchase given your current volumes?
- Perhaps your camera is great but your operational costs are eating away at profits. Would you like Digirad to repair and maintain your equipment?
- Do you want to keep your current camera but want help to maximize your efficiency and profitability?
Digirad’s efficiency experts can help you maximize your financial returns based on your current clinical needs.
Digirad can assist you with trading in and upgrading your equipment. If you are looking to buy a new camera, Digirad can buy your old equipment and deduct the value of your equipment from the cost of your new purchase.
If you are looking to upgrade your nuclear imaging without having to purchase a new camera, consider Diagnostic Services from Digirad. Digirad provides your choices of licensing, physics consulting, accreditation, staff, equipment, and cloud-based PAC systems for your nuclear lab. Digirad will determine the value of your existing equipment, and then work with you to reflect that value in your Diagnostic Services contract. We can customize a program to your specifications while maximizing your outcomes and your profitability.
Large practice or small; independent or integrated; outreach clinic or main facility; our portfolio of solutions could benefit everyone.
Determining the Value of Existing Equipment
Digirad offers a number of options for upgrading your current equipment. The value of your existing equipment depends on a number of factors, including:
- How old is the camera?
- Is it a single or multi-head SPECT camera?
- What type of software does it have?
- Is it under a service contract?
All of these factors influence the value of your equipment. Digirad will assess its value and provide you with options for upgrading.
With an upgrade, you can have the most advanced, up-to-date technology at a reduced cost to your practice. Here are some of the benefits of upgrading your old equipment through Digirad’s Technology Refresh Program:
- Move to solid state technology
- Get up to a triple-head camera
- Scan faster with better quality images
- Attenuation correction with the Cardius® X-ACT
- Meet accreditation standards
- Reduce dosage and radiation exposure to patients
- Eliminate costly overhead expenses
- Scale your equipment to meet current patient demand
Upgrading your equipment will make your practice more efficient and cost-effective, and you will be able to offer your patients access to the latest technology.
Hassle-Free Radiation Safety and Licensing with DigiradPosted on: 07.10.14
Do you know what it takes to establish a nuclear lab in your office? If you are considering purchasing a nuclear gamma camera or offering nuclear imaging services in your office, be aware that there is a lot more to the process than just researching and buying a new camera. You must ensure that you meet all of the regulatory and safety requirements.
Nuclear Imaging Requirements
There are a number of requirements for offering nuclear imaging services. It takes a lot of time, a substantial financial investment, and the continual management of a radiation safety program. First, you must obtain a radioactive materials license (RML). Licensing is gained through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or the applicable state agency. Generally, you must hire a physicist to assist with the application process. There is a licensing fee and ongoing cost for quarterly audits by a physicist. Once you obtain a license, you are held responsible by the agency that issued the license. You must establish a Radiation Safety Committee, holding ongoing meetings and manage all documentation for safety audits as well as NRC or State Inspections. RML holders are responsible for meeting the safety standards of the applicable regulations. Violations can result in citations as well as potentially substantial fines.
Digirad Imaging Services
If you choose to use Diagnostic Services from Digirad, you don’t have to worry about any licensing or safety concerns. Digirad takes care of everything. As part of our Nuclear Cardiology service for both mobile sites and fixed camera sites, we obtain the license and provide the following:
- All RM licensing needs including application, renewal and inspections
- Physicist support including audits and ongoing support requirements
- Radiation Safety Committee and all related requirements
- Exit surveys and wipe tests on each day of service
- Qualified nuclear medicine technologists who are certified by NMTCB or ARRT(N)
Digirad operates under ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Acceptable) principles. This means that we make every reasonable effort to ensure that radiation exposure is kept as low as possible. Our ALARA program includes radiation safety, operating, and emergency procedures.
Digirad is ultimately responsible for the radiation safety program and all aspects of the license. The license will be listed at your office address, but it will be in Digirad’s name. The state holds Digirad responsible for safety and maintenance.
Whether you own a camera, use our fixed site services solution, or utilize our mobile, in-facility imaging service, choosing Digirad ensures that you experience no hassles and minimal costs for licensing, physics consulting, and accreditation.
Digirad Expands Service Contract Options to Support Philips, GE, Siemens, and MorePosted on: 05.13.14
Do you like the idea of a one-stop option for all your medical equipment service needs? Well, so do we! For your convenience, Digirad provides service options to support various cameras from multiple vendors. Our Camera Support team consists of highly skilled service engineers with an average of 15 years of experience on all major vendors’ SPECT equipment. If you are in need of immediate phone support, expedited parts delivery, or an expert service engineer to be onsite quickly, Digirad is your solution.
Which Nuclear Medicine SPECT cameras do we service?
Digirad has service agreement options to support all major Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) cameras including, but not limited to:
- Genesys (single or dual head)
- Millennium MyoSight
- Millennium MG
- Millennium MPS
- Millennium MPR
Sopha Medical Vision – SMV DST-Xli
IS2 – Pulse
Segami – MaiCam
What types of agreement options are available?
Digirad offers a variety of service plans to meet your needs:
- The Full-Service Agreement gives you complete comprehensive coverage for your equipment.
- The Limited Service Agreement provides an economical solution with essential service coverage.
- The Preventative Maintenance solution offers minimal service solutions from a trusted service provider and unlimited technical phone support.
What kind of service will you be receiving?
Our goal of providing high quality exceptional service as needed, when needed, and where needed is the foundation of our Camera Support business. Our dedicated team of experienced service engineers is positioned nationwide to use critical diagnostic skills to quickly and accurately resolve any request without compromise to value and service.
How can I get started?
A Digirad Camera Support team member can assist you in assessing your service needs and guide you to the option best suited to protect your medical asset. Whichever plan you choose, we are committed to supporting you with exceptional service and quality at economical pricing. Request an estimate today!