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Electronic documentation: VGM gets to work

Electronic documentation: VGM gets to work ‘More and more companies are making the switch’ says Ronda Buhrmester

WATERLOO, Iowa - A CMS work group on electronic medical documentation could go a long way toward relieving one of the HME industry's biggest pain points: better documentation, says the VGM Group's Ronda Buhrmester.

“We've seen suppliers struggling to get better documentation from physicians for years,” said Buhrmester, a reimbursement specialist. “Doctors don't put the proper information in medical records. It's not intentional; they don't know what to put in there. And now suppliers are pushing back: 'We need better documentation.'”

VGM announced recently that it had joined the work group, which has bi-monthly conference calls.

One way to get better documentation is developing templates for physicians to use. Buhrmester says one of the first goals of the work group is helping to further develop templates for home oxygen therapy and diabetes supplies.

“The templates do not direct doctors, which CMS doesn't like,” she said, “but they help to make sure they touch on all the coverage criteria.”

The return to templates is an irony that's not lost on Buhrmester, but she says CMS has recognized that this “reactive game” of back-and-forth between physicians and suppliers for the correct documentation costs time and money.

“I know we feel like CMS doesn't listen, but they are listening,” she said. “It just takes time to change things, with making sure all the steps are being followed.”

Bigger picture, the work group has also targeted as a goal: advancing the secure and standardized electronic data exchange for medical documentation requests and responses.

“Unless you're a DME company that's part of a health system, you're not likely to have access to electronic medical records,” Buhrmester said. “That will be very beneficial—when we get there.”

As part of its work with the group, VGM plans to survey its provider members to get the lay of the land for electronic documentation in the HME industry.

“I'd say 70% of suppliers, maybe more, are using an electronic system,” Buhrmester said. “It's more efficient and saves money. More and more companies are making the switch.”


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