The big toe is in…

For the past couple of months we here at SOS Software have been toying with the idea of starting a blog. Stepping into the blogosphere is intimidating to me. As our customers know, Synergistic Office Solutions is a small company providing medical and mental health practice management software and mental health clinical records. Our staff range from highly technical geeks (developers) to extremely knowledgeable software gurus (tech support), all the way to what I fondly call competent end users (the rest of us). I am very much in the latter category although SOS President Seth Krieger would argue the competent part of that description as applied to me. Having my own in-house support team is very important to my successful functioning.

Even though I am not the most technical of our crew, I am connected into the events occurring in the general and behavioral healthcare community that affect the daily lives of SOS customers. I often come upon articles and topics that I am sure would benefit others, if only they had time to locate and read them. And I always want to know what our customers think about what is happening in the world of the behavioral health and medical provider.

And so, the SOS blog is born. Seth and I will use this space to talk about developments in the healthcare  Information Technology (IT) arena. We will discuss changes in the way providers must serve their clients and what is required of them to obtain payment. We expect to explore extensively the move toward electronic medical records (EMR) and e-prescribing. And we will sometimes invite others to write an article about their perspective on the world of practice management and healthcare technology. With every entry we invite your input. A blog is a conversation, so please talk to us! Got topics? Send them to us. Your comments, questions, and insights are all welcome. We’ll do our best to respond to them in a timely fashion when that is appropriate.

My first offering is a great article for those of us who fall into that competent end user category or who are novices to the computer world. David Pogue is a New York Times columnist and CBS News correspondent on the world of technology. On October 2, 2008, his column Tech Tips for the Basic Computer User was just what it says. If you fall into the geek category, his tidbits may be common knowledge for you. If you are like me, you will be delighted.

Thanks for reading SOS at-large. Please come back.
Kathy

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0 thoughts on “The big toe is in…

  • Hi Kathy and Seth,

    Thanks very much for creating the SOS blog! I have never been involved in a blog before and am excited to see how this develops. I think it is a great idea. Thanks also for David Pogue’s article. Although when I read the following line in his article: “…Nobody, but nobody, is going to give you half of $80 million to help them liberate the funds of a deceased millionaire…from Nigeria or anywhere else…” I became quite depressed and realized the only way to survive the current & future economic hard times is to fine tune our practice’s ability to obtain payment from the insurance carriers.

    As I understand it the “bail out” just signed by President Bush has a mental health “parity” component attached to it. Do others worry that insurance companies will find loop-holes to avoid following the rules associated with parity??

    Dave Zachau
    Elyria, Ohio

  • In addition to my comments below, I have included some of Sam Kapp’s comments. Sam is a key figure in Pennsylvania Psychological Association and a nationally recognized an respected figure.

    Regarding what is happening in your state, I would suggest that you contact your insurance companies and get informed about how and when they’ll change their policies.

    Parity has been a long, hard fought issue for psychologists for many decades. Thanks to their dedication and the contributions of its members, APA and all mental health workers have realized that lobbying for the rights of mental health patients can work! That’s why we here in PA have fought so hard against the ridiculous use of authorizations. Now that we have gotten rid of auths for 90% of insurance companies, “need” is being defined in more clinically useful methods.

    Parity: It affects all commercial health care plans including employer sponsored plans that are not subject to state regulations (called ERISA exempt). In Pennsylvania that is about one half of the commercial health care plans.

    It does not apply to business that have less than 50 employees. However, some of those businesses may voluntarily purchase policies that have mental health parity.

    The bill does not apply to Medicare or Medicaid. Medicaid in PA already has parity. Medicare will be gradually moving to parity by 2014. Parity for Medicare will be phased in gradually until 2014. Right now Medicare pays 50% for outpatient psychiatric services, but by 2014, it will pay 80% of
    outpatient psychiatric services, the same percentage that it pays for other medical procedures.

    All legislation of this nature has a phase in period, believed to be January 2010.

    The two major changes for psychologists will be that

    1. for almost all patients (all except those who work for business with 50 or fewer employees), the copays for mental health treatment will be the same as for physical health appointments. PPA data shows that patients with higher copays use fewer outpatient treatment sessions than those with lower copays.

    2. patients with serious mental disorders (all except those who work for businesses with 50 or fewer employees), will no longer have arbitrary limits on the number of outpatient sessions or inpatient stays. Of course we know that managed care already restricts inpatient care and outpatient care through medical necessity reviews; this will not change.

  • Hi guys. I’m happy that there is a blog now too! You may remember me from posts with Craig Psychological and more recently, Merritt Counseling. I’ve decided to branch out on my own and do Mental Health Billing/Office Management Consulting. I’m encouraging my practices to purchase SOS. However, I’m discouraged with the fact that when looking for something to education myself further in this field, I’m only finding Medical Billing information. I have always been facinated by conversations carried on between SOS and Dave Zachau and Vince Bellwoar. So of course I’m thrilled the two of them can type away and I can absorb the wealth of knowledge that they have to offer. Especially since Vince Bellwoar is a PA provider most of the comments he makes are ones I can use as I also am in PA. Anyway, I thank you again for this oppurtunity to learn! and post away!

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