Nothing is more important to a cardiology review of systems than heartbeat and circulation. Similarly, in a cardiology practice, patient data must flow freely between providers and testing facilities, ECG and other test results need to flow into patient records, data from mobile apps need to download into EMRs, precise codes and documentation need to flow into the billing department, HR needs to tap into staffing resources, and marketers need to keep the patients flowing in.
Software can help with the all-important data portion—but only if it’s designed to communicate with a multitude of systems. It comes down to this: today’s cardiology practice management is all about combining best practices with advanced technology to ensure everything flows smoothly.
Cardiologists with older software systems are understandably frustrated: their EMR templates can’t be customized to the way they work, they suspect they’re not getting paid appropriately for the work they’re doing, and their patients’ ECGs aren’t always available to reference during encounters.
Delays caused by not having ECG data during an encounter can affect patient outcomes. The cardiologist must either track down the ECG or perform another test. “Delays in EMR-based ECG visualization can substantially impact patient care for individuals with suspected cardiac disease,” writes Dr. Payal Kohli, managing partner at Cherry Creek Heart in Denver.
Today’s cloud-based systems ensure test data flows quickly into the patient record, regardless of where the test was performed. This not only helps cardiologists treat patients using accurate information, it ensures patients are not kept waiting and worrying about the cause of their chest pain.”
Increasingly, cardiac patients are using mobile apps to track their health data. This is a convenient way to monitor things like heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation with the intention of seeing their cardiologist about abnormal readings—but it’s significantly more useful when the data can be shared directly. Fortunately, today’s sophisticated EMRs allow data import from a variety of devices, including mobile apps (via HL7).
Medical Billing flow
Coding for cardiology visits and procedures is complicated, but sophisticated billing software simplifies the process. It walks providers through each step, ensuring that the encounter is coded to the highest level of specificity. It also facilitates communication between providers, billers, and payers so that more claims are paid the first time and denied claims can be quickly and successfully resubmitted.
Behind the scenes, revenue cycle management (RCM) features help billers easily keep track of claims, identify and fix lost revenue from patient balances and unpaid claims, and benchmark reimbursement rates to look for revenue opportunities. All of this contributes to cardiologists getting appropriately reimbursed for their work.
The elephant in the room these days is staffing shortages, particularly nurses and other clinical workers. In 2021, the American Hospital Association projected a shortage of 500,000 nurses by the year 2026.
Technology can’t help with this aspect, but cardiology practice managers do have resources. Travel nurses are helpful in the short term, but the American College of Cardiology advocates for a more thoughtful approach. “There is an urgent need for aligned support from the cardiovascular team, including our physician colleagues,” writes Bailey Ann Estes, a cardiac registered nurse at Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene, Texas. “Physicians can provide a more powerful voice within institutions to help partner with nurses and administration and advocate for long-term solutions. When there is a fracture in the care team, all team members and their patients feel the impact.”
The days of growing your practice via word of mouth alone are long gone. Cardiology practices must follow proven marketing strategies to get found online and stand apart from other practices in the area. That means hiring an expert in search engine optimization, social media marketing, website optimization, online reviews, email marketing, online content (including videos), and marketing performance tracking.
To keep marketing content going out and new patients flowing in, make sure the practice management software you use makes it easy to build an email database, generate and nurture leads, push updates to multiple social media channels, and track your lead generation.
- Faramand, Ziad. “Lack of Significant Coronary History and ECG Misinterpretation Are the Strongest Predictors of Undertriage in Prehospital Chest Pain.” Journal of Emergency Nursing, 14 December 2018. https://www.jenonline.org/article/S0099-1767%2818%2930485-9/fulltext
- Kohli, Payal. “Why ECG and EMR Integration Is a Critical Healthcare Technology Solution. GE Healthcare, 13 April 2021. https://www.gehealthcare.com/insights/article/why-ecg-and-emr-integration-is-a-critical-h
- Genes, Nicholas, et al. “From Smartphone to EHR: A Case Report on Integrating Patient-Generated Health Data.” NPJ Digital Medicine, 20 June 2018. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41746-018-0030-8
- “Health Level 7.” Wikipedia, accessed November 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_Level_7
- Gaffney, Terri. “Retaining Nurses to Mitigate Shortages.” American Nurse Journal, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2022. https://www.myamericannurse.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/an1-Beyond-Retention-1213.pdf
- “The Nursing Shortage and CV Care: A Time for Action.” Cardiology Magazine, 2 May 2022. https://www.acc.org/Latest-in-Cardiology/Articles/2022/04/01/01/42/From-the-Member-Sections-The-Nursing-Shortage-and-CV-Care-A-Time-For-Action
- “Cardiology Practice Marketing: Grow Your Practice With These 10 Tips.” Officite, 10 June 2021. https://www.officite.com/cardiology-practice-marketing-grow-your-practice-with-these-10-tips/