When a Holding Pattern Holds You Back

I don’t need to tell you that hospitals are struggling. You know that. The seemingly never-ending parade of COVID variants has meant that the patients who avoided in-person tests, screenings, necessary medical procedures, and visits have not returned in the droves we’d all hoped for. Add to that the Proposed Fee Schedule cuts to radiology and other weary departments. There are labor shortages, supply-chain headaches, and a general sense of burnout. We’ve felt it too.

It’s been grueling.

A common refrain we hear when approaching our customers and partners is that they are biding their time, in a holding pattern, waiting to see what comes next before spending any more money. And that is completely understandable on the surface. Facing a crisis, the choices are generally run, fight, or stand still, and standing still seems to take the least risk and energy.

But is that really true? When a hummingbird hovers, it appears still, but it is in fact beating its wings thousands of times per minute and must eat many times its weight daily to do so. Ask yourself this, has standing still led you to feel any less uncertain or exhausted?

Maybe a holding pattern is more costly than it appears.

I mentioned patients who have stayed away from in-person appointments. In all likelihood, their reasoning is not unlike yours. They are unsure of the risk of going in for diagnostic radiology or other potentially lifesaving procedures, so they stay where they are. But you can easily see how that itself is deciding to take a risk. We like to think no news is good news, but sometimes no information is the very worst information.

While you are in your holding pattern, life goes on. Patients need the best care. Supplies need to be inventoried and reordered. Importantly, billing and audits keep going on, and any mistakes or oversights will likely continue uncorrected. How much is it costing you to stand still? Coding is demanding, exacting, tiring work. The rules are confusing and complex, so mistakes are inevitable. Big, costly mistakes might get noticed. But errors that costs a couple dollars, repeated enough, could cost a facility as much or more than the high-dollar miscoding. While you try to stand still, all around you errors repeat until they become regular procedure, constantly costing your facility money.

MedLearn’s books and webinars, as well as those of our sister publications RACMonitor and ICD10Monitor, may cost a few hundred dollars, and maybe that gives you pause. I’ll put aside for the moment that other publishers in our field generally charge a whole lot more for less information and with less proven reputations than ours. The money you spend on our publications, subscriptions, and webinars can lead to realizing errors big and small, can maximize your compensation, and protect you from audits or diminish their damage.

And since we’re speaking frankly here, let’s not pretend you don’t need that money. Non-Patient Outcome Spending (NPOS) is a hydra—with heads like staffing costs, inventory waste, billing issues, compliance problems, and so forth— attacking the revenue that should be going back into taking care of your facility’s patients. Patients are the whole reason for medicine, after all, and when hospitals suffer, so do they.

Hummingbirds and mythical monsters are a bit of a mixed metaphor, but I think you get the point.

MedLearn wants you to get every dollar you deserve. That’s why we bring on the best subject matter experts in the country to interpret the myriad changes of the medical world and share their wisdom and experience with you. For more than 30 years, that’s been the whole point of us, to fight NPOS with you and return attention away from the chaos of the industry and back to the patient. You don’t need to stand still. You can go forward with us.


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