Templates ease documentation burden, respondents say

But misconception that they’re not allowed remains
Friday, August 21, 2015

YARMOUTH, Maine – Template has long been a dirty word in the HME industry, but as health care shifts toward paperless, HME providers are now playing catch up.

“Virtually all physicians are using electronic templates for everyday exams, surgeries, etc.,” said one respondent to a recent HME NewsPoll. “They get frustrated with the lack of HME capabilities in their systems.”

Forty-five percent of respondents to the poll say they use electronic templates vs. 55% who don’t.

One of the biggest obstacles to more widespread use of templates: Many providers believe they’re a no-no. In 2013, however, CMS issued a clarification to its Program Integrity Manual that stated, “CMS does not prohibit use of templates to facilitate recordkeeping,” as long as they are not what it calls “limited space templates.”
Still, the misperception remains.

“Do we use templates? No,” said one respondent. “Do we use one or more of the various electronic medical record systems that facilitate ordering? Yes.”

But with increasingly complex requirements, coupled with an onslaught of audits, templates can make it easier to document need.

“The templates walk the doctor through each question making sure they address all the notes that are needed,” said one respondent. “We don’t need to go back to the physician two or three times. It’s more efficient.”

Of the poll respondents that do use electronic templates, 70% cite increased efficiency as the biggest benefit. Other benefits include improved patient care (18%) and decreased denials (12%).

Templates are only as good as the people using them, however.

“We are finding that templates are not the answer because humans are not willing to update and understand the importance of this process,” said Starla Barlie, billing coordinator at Center Home Health Care in Enterprise, Ala.