The Tax Man Cometh
As some of my colleagues, friends and family are buzzing about tax season–I am dreading it. Trying to wait patiently for all the necessary documents to send to my Accountant seems like a forever project. At the end of the day, heading to my mailbox with hopes the last few pieces of mail are just what I need to complete my submission.
With varying fiscal years, I can only imagine what a business owner goes through wading through piles of receipts and wondering what could constitute as a deduction. I found some tips online as to what physicians may consider to help them through the struggle
When it comes to taxes, it’s critical to diagnose your tax standing with the IRS to come up with a plan of action that includes tax deductions to help reduce your bill from Uncle Sam, while staying compliant at the same time. If you are one of the many physicians with your own medical practice, consider these tax deductions for doctors that can help you keep more of the income your medical practice generates:
- Medical equipment, i.e. exam tables, stethoscopes, vials, x-rays, MRI machines, tweezers, special lighting, etc.
- Office equipment, i.e. chairs, desks, tables, waiting room TVs, phones, computers, printers, scanners, copy machines, tablets
- Office supplies, i.e. paper, pens, sign-in clipboards, ink cartridges for printers/copiers, envelopes, postage
- Employee salaries for nurses, receptionists, and office staff
- Office overhead costs, i.e. property rental fees, utilities, Internet access, cable TV, water coolers, coffee, snacks
- Computer software to maintain medical records or to perform certain medical examinations
- Licensing expenses
- Board examination fees
- Self-insured medical reimbursement plan premiums or unreimbursed medical expenses
- Professional fees for accountants, lawyers, medical consultants, etc.
- Marketing/advertising costs to promote a medical practice, i.e. a website, signage, e-mail marketing software, social media ads, listings in directories for doctors’ offices
- Travel expenses to attend medical conferences, i.e. transportation, lodging, meals
- Miscellaneous costs, i.e. investment expenses, mortgage interest, etc.
The Importance of Recordkeeping for Doctors
Doctors know how important it is to maintain accurate patient information and medical history. The same rule of thumb should apply to taxes. It’s critical to maintain records and receipts of all expenses you incur as a doctor with a medical practice. The IRS wants to ensure that all costs are related to your medical practice rather than for personal needs, so maintaining proper records and providing this information when filing your tax return is a must.
NOTE: MediPro, Inc. encourages physicians to visit directly with their respective Tax Professional to see what the best plan is for their medical office.
Office-Based Docs’ Use of Certified EHRs Increasing, CDC Data Show
Nearly 75% of office-based providers in 2014 had a certified electronic health record system, up from 68% in 2013, according to new CDC data, STAT News‘ “Morning Rounds” reports (Thielking, “Morning Rounds,” STAT News, 1/27).
Eligible professionals must use EHRs certified by the federal government under the meaningful use program. The program was created under the 2009 economic stimulus package to enable providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs to qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (iHealthBeat, 10/7/15).
The CDC data are based on the 2014 National Electronic Health Records survey.
According to CDC, the percentage of office-based providers who had a certified EHR system varied by state, ranging from 88.6% in Minnesota to 58.8% in Alaska.
Of the 74.1% of office-based physicians with a certified EHR in 2014, 32.5% were electronically sharing patient data with external providers, compared with 16.8% of office-based providers who did not have a certified EHR system (CDC data, January 2016).
The data show that the percentage of certified EHR users who electronically shared data externally also varied by state, ranging from about 59% in North Dakota to 18% in New Jersey (Tahir et al., “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 1/27).
Source: iHealthBeat | 1/27/16
Ringing in Zip, Zero, Zilch
For those I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting with in the first 15 days of the month, Happy New Year! I’m excited about what 2016 will bring to medical practices and billing services over the next 350 days.
After peering inside the plethora of healthcare news, I found some recurring hot topics that we’ll want to pay attention to this year. Items like maintaining practice independence, Interoperability, Meaningful Use Stage 3, the software replacement market, cybersecurity, patient consumerism, and always at the top of the list—reimbursement rates. Despite constant trending and fluctuating interest levels, we will always do our best to keep you informed.
Also, did you know that MediPro, Inc. recently celebrated 20 years of providing Practice Management as well as Electronic Health Records software programs, and related services to physicians across the country? The celebratory month of December 2015 is one we’ll never forget! If you have been following our company throughout the years, you’ll nod your head freely in agreement that we are always pushing boundaries when it comes to progressive healthcare technology, new offerings, and affordability.
This is one reason I am super-excited to be announcing this opportunity. With independent practitioners in mind, MediPro is thrilled to offer a new program called Zip, Zero, Zilch that alleviates initial out-of-pocket costs. Drumroll please…pay $0 upfront for the future generation of PM/EHR medical software, CureMD. I’ll spare us all by arguing the “sounds too good to be true” adage however, by meeting the qualifications of this program, your practice can acquire a complete cloud-based front to back office software solution that includes project management, implementation, training, template customization, clearinghouse services, a healthcare patient portal, appointment reminders by text/e-mail, and more! The only payment you’ll make is a monthly fee and rest assured, it won’t break the bank!
Look at it this way, we aren’t keeping up with the Jones’ but we are setting the precedence for a successful future of managing patient data, conducting daily practice operations, maintaining government compliance, getting paid, happier staff, and the need to remain profitable.
Ok, seriously now that the fanfare is over with, I highly recommend contacting MediPro, Inc. at 1.800.759.1321 opt 2 to learn more about this award-winning system or to receive a personalized demonstration of the CureMD software.
Cheers to 2016 and may you and yours enjoy good health, new adventures, and limitless prosperity!
Dana Deardorff is the Office Administrator at MediPro, Inc. She is working toward her 12th year in the medical software industry and understands the many challenges independent physicians face in today’s healthcare marketplace.
3 steps physicians say make practice changes successful
The new year is here and brings with it many—often too many—resolutions for change. While change fatigue is common, when the desire for change comes from within your practice, the results can unify your team. If you’re planning to make changes in 2016, use these three tips from physicians to select the right change initiatives for your practice and keep your practice team on board throughout the process.
Change is always difficult, and identifying the right opportunities for improvements in your practice often can be the most critical part of the transformation process. For instance, you may want to iron speed bumps out of your work flow, or you may want each member of your practice team to be enabled to perform at the top of their skill set.
Change becomes much easier to lead and facilitate when the change initiative addresses issues that arise from the needs and experiences of your practice team. A free online module from the AMA’s STEPS Forward™ collection provides three steps developed by physicians for success as you get ready for change in your practice.
Use this three-step framework to choose the best change initiatives to tackle important goals within your practice:
- Determine whether the change will ease the work burden for those who deliver care. Generating commitment to change requires your practice team to be able to individually see “what’s in it for them.” A successful change should make it easier for front-line workers to do their work well.Involving all members of your team in the process—from determining which project to undertake to actual implementation—will ensure their involvement, buy-in and engagement throughout the process.When considering whether a specific change will be beneficial, ask these questions:
- What aspects of the daily work frustrate the physicians and other members of your practice team?
- What does your practice team do that seems counterproductive or unnecessary?
- In what areas are the results of your care delivery disappointing?
- Confirm that the change will improve patient care. Most initiatives your team identifies will likely benefit patients. For example, eliminating duplication or repetition in a process will translate to more time spent with patients.Measurement is key to change implementation. First, measure the current state so your team can see improvement as it happens. Measurement will also give your team a goal to work toward. For example, if your team anticipates saving 20 minutes by implementing a certain process, they will remain motivated until they accomplish that goal.Even if the goal is exceeded, your team may continue working to see how much they can surpass the original goal. Seeing improvement is a positive energy builder.
- Confirm that a revenue stream will support the change. Dedicating people, time and energy to embark on an improvement initiative must make financial sense. If benefits do not outweigh costs, your practice should not make the change.It is easier to commit to change when the costs of not making the change—maintaining inefficient operations or poor patient outcomes—are made clear. Work with your financial manager to see the potential benefits of implementing your change project. Several STEPS Forward modules offer calculators to determine cost and time savings. You can find these calculators in modules on pre-visit planning, pre-visit laboratory testing and synchronized prescription renewal.
How these three-steps are working for physicians
One practice, the Family Care Network in Bellingham, Wash., used this three-step framework several times over the past few years to select change efforts. One such effort utilized the concerns of the practice care team to implement a patient management system change that saw tremendous success in managing patients on anticoagulants, improving convenience for the patient and reducing phone calls to the practice. The Family Care Network then capitalized on the team’s increased motivation to improve further.
After initial success with their first project, the practice team’s attitude toward practice improvement projects changed. They suggested new projects and were able to further improve patient care and advance teamwork.
Check out the module to find a more in-depth look at what it takes to select the right change initiatives for your practice and to read the Family Care Network’s story. This module offers continuing medical education credit.
More than 25 modules are available in the AMA’s STEPS Forward collection, and several more will be added in 2016, thanks to a grant from and collaboration with the Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative.
Source: AMA Wire
By AMA staff writer Troy Parks
Meaningful Use Hardship Exceptions Bill Signed into Law
Providers will have an easier time claiming a meaningful use hardship exception now that S.2425 has been signed into law.
Earlier this week, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act (S. 2425), according to a White House press release.
- 2425 covers legislation regarding Medicare payments for certain rehabilitation technologies, such as wheelchairs and other equipment. However, most notably, this law makes it easier for the government to award hardship exceptions to eligible hospitals, eligible providers, and critical access hospitals that are unable to attest to certain aspects of meaningful use:
- 2425, the “Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act,” which makes changes to Medicare payments for certain complex rehabilitation technology and radiation therapy services, provide flexibility in applying a hardship exception from meaningful use of electronic health records, and improve Medicare and Medicaid program integrity.
Additionally, the language of the law eliminates any room for interpretation that would otherwise alter the meaning of the law. Furthermore, Congress simplified the language of the law to eliminate any confusion in its interpretation.
The passage of this bill and its signing into law is a significant win for several healthcare providers who otherwise would not have been able to attest to meaningful use.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed modifications to the Stage 2 Meaningful Use rule and proposed its final leg of the program, the Stage 3 Meaningful Use rule. However, these rules were not released until October 6 of this year, leaving providers little time to prepare for the new attestation requirements, which must be submitted between January 4 2016 and February 29.
Several professional organizations and industry stakeholders expressed grievances with the modifications rule.
For example, prior to the passage of S. 2425, the American Medical Association (AMA) urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide hardship exceptions to those entities that needed one. AMA did so on October 1 — mere days before the modifications rule was released — because it felt as though providers needed more time to adjust to the impending changes.
“The AMA has regularly stressed that CMS must finalize Meaningful Use modifications well ahead of Oct. 1 to provide the time that physicians need to plan for and accommodate these changes, yet CMS has continued to delay finalizing this rule,” said AMA President Steven J. Stack, MD. “As a result, many physicians who were counting on this flexibility will be subject to financial penalties under the rules currently in place.”
AMA took further grievance with the meaningful use timelines. Specifically, AMA believes there should be a delay in Stage 3 due to the fact that so few providers have managed to attest to Stage 2, mirroring a common trope throughout the healthcare industry.
CMS recently released modifications to Stage 2 to make modest improvements, though some new requirements will cause still more physicians to fail. Simultaneously CMS laid out more challenging requirements for Stage 3. Rather than build on the modest improvements made to Stage 2, CMS reverted back to the same fundamental flaws in the previous version of the program by focusing heavily on measure thresholds and excessive documentation requirements rather than improving interoperability. Relying so heavily on the failed construct of Stage 2 will only guarantee continued failure in Stage 3.
However, CMS has shown no sign in delaying either stage of the meaningful use program. As attestation deadlines and the mandatory 2018 start date for Stage 3 draw nearer, tensions will likely continue between CMS and its meaningful use critics