With reimbursement cuts looming, physicians must master financial aspects of glaucoma treatment

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CHICAGO — With the number of glaucoma cases expected to rise significantly in the next several years, and government funding facing possible cuts, physicians will need to focus more energy on the financial aspects of their practices, a physician said here.

Bradford J. Shingleton, MD, spoke at Glaucoma Day, held prior to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery meeting. Dr. Shingleton, the incoming president of the society, said glaucoma specialists will soon face numerous financial reimbursement issues in their practices.

Future Medicare fee schedules could be adversely affected by government budget cuts, while the amount of uninsured patients continues to rise, he said. Physicians will need an increased awareness of the financial reimbursement side of their practices and its impact on the care administered, Dr. Shingleton said.

“The take-home message is to be looking out for our patients, but we need to simultaneously be thinking about what it’s going to cost us to deliver that kind of high-quality care,” he said.

Practice patterns can assist physicians in assessing financial reimbursement issues, Dr. Shingleton said. He emphasized that proper coding and documentation of patient treatment is critical to reimbursement. Knowing which diagnostic tests and laser surgical procedures are covered is also important, he said.

Dr. Shingleton recommended that each practice perform an outcome analysis to determine not only how to best offer care, but the amount of fees that care is generating. He analyzed four patients randomly in his practice for overall visit analysis, time analysis and earnings analysis. He found that financial collections for services rendered varied from 33% to 64%. He said the analysis results, while costing nearly $50,000 for 1 year’s collection, have assisted him in better treating his patients.

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