New App Turns into Breakthrough for TCM
Initially co-founders of Phyzit, Inc., Stephen Canon, MD, and Mike Canon, JD, launched a software tool aimed at improving patient-physician communication via telemedicine and mobile messaging. It turned out to be an opportunity to streamline transitional care management (TCM) and chronic care management (CCM), as well.
According to Stephen Canon, pediatric urologist in Little Rock, Arkansas, the original intent of the application was to improve “patient-physician communication through HIPAA secure mobile telemedicine and messaging.” After evaluating the market and interviewing customers, however, the co-founders pivoted their strategy to improve transitional care management (TCM) coding (99495 and 99496) and streamline billing workflow.
The TCM process is streamlined through an interface that saves time for office staff, reduces workflow demands on primary care physicians, and increases revenue. The patients are able to have direct communication with their doctors and add family members or other caregivers to their health management plan.
The application Phyzit TCM™ “incorporates secure electronic messaging, phone calls, telemedicine video sessions, and SMS text messaging into a cloud-based platform designed to increase patient engagement and aid physicians in keeping patients healthy after hospital discharge,” according to an Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center blog.
A Win/Win for Patients, Physicians, and Coders
Because the process of billing TCM services can be clunky, this can benefit coding and billing staff. Pam Brooks, CPC, COC, coding manager at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, New Hampshire, said, “Although CMS is headed in the right direction by reimbursing for TCM to help prevent costly readmissions, the logistics in regards to proper billing and coding is sometimes confusing and time-consuming. A tool such as this will go a long way towards simplifying the process.”
When creating this app, Stephen Canon consulted with Brooks about TCM and CCM services in regards to how they are coded and reimbursed. Brooks said:
I see the value in such an application … as [practices and facilities] try to navigate the complexities of CCM billing, improve revenue, and decrease patient admissions/re-admissions. Tracking these services along with unplanned admissions, time, bundling issues and payer and CPT® guidelines is a fulltime job. And frankly, our organization had to develop this technology within our own EHR system, which was both costly and time consuming. I can see this application being a very cost-effective alternative for providers who don’t have the deep pockets of corporate medicine.
When the smartphone app was beta tested last fall, Brad Bibb, MD, a family practice physician in Ash Flat, Arkansas, made an additional $1400 per month using the app and his hospital readmissions were cut by 50 percent. Zana Johnson, care manager for Family Clinic of Ashley County in Crossett, Arkansas, has also used it and said, “In today’s healthcare, we must utilize all the tools available to be efficient and still maintain the level of care our patients deserve. That’s what Phyzit does, it makes my job easier without all the stress, so I can concentrate on patients and their needs.”
Stephen Canon says that Phyzit CCM™ is in the planning stages, as well, and is proposed to streamline the CCM process upon completion. It’s another area that would benefit from this approach to patient management workflow.