Category Archives: Allied Health Program News

Affordable Care Act boosts job growth in medical records, billing

Medical_iPadWritten By: Jennifer Nelson

 

The Affordable Care Act is creating greater demand for medical office personnel who can handle its new requirements for billing, coding and digitizing medical records.

Not only are clinics, hospitals and private physicians’ offices restructuring how they do medical billing and record keeping to meet standards for uniformity, but through the ACA, also known as Obamacare, millions more people are obtaining health insurance, leading to more visits to doctors.

“Providers will see more patients, there’s more revenue over time and their practices will become more efficient,” said Daniel Kivatinos, chief operating officer and co-founder of DrChrono.com, a cloud-based electronic health records and electronic medical billing company that helps doctors bill their own claims electronically.

Frustration with new billing procedures and the abundance of work may also prompt doctors and clinics to outsource their billing, creating even more jobs with companies whose sole mission is to tackle health providers’ medical billing.

“Last year, $500 million of medical billing went through our software,” Kivatinos said.

 

Coding boom

Along with billing, medical coding requirements are being revamped extensively. Under the ACA, the system for coding medical procedures, called the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision — or ICD-10 — is requiring an increase in the number of codes from 13,000 to nearly 70,000 in 2015. Not only have coders been trained and brought up to speed on the new diagnostic codes that are required to submit claims, but also the increased workloads for coders have created additional job growth.

 

Medical records explosion

Another provision of the ACA requires that hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices make patients’ medical records available electronically. As a result, more than half of U.S. doctors and 80 percent of hospitals have digitized their records, according to recent reports.

The federal government has also created an incentive program to encourage medical practices to implement electronic medical records technology. The program, in which doctors and hospitals were paid between $44,000 and $64,000 to digitize their records, was said to cut health care costs by way of more accurate diagnoses, better communication and more selective medical testing.

“Facebook has your photo, but your medical record doesn’t yet,” Kivatinos said. “Someone’s face on a chart reduces medical errors dramatically.”

Plus, electronic medical records will be able to include drawings, images and video, and will allow doctors to upload information from the Internet and from FDA-approved devices like a patient’s blood pressure cuff or glucose meter.

Kivatinos said the focus will be on how to incentivize doctors to move to digital systems by creating great experiences for them with these new technologies.

These changes, and more on the horizon, will continue to create opportunities for people interested in working with medical records and billing. Additional training and increased numbers of positions are expected, at least in the short term, while medical-records personnel digitize all types of health records and patient information.

“It’s a healthcare renaissance,” Kivatinos said.

 


Jennifer Nelson is a Florida-based writer who has written for WebMD, MSNBC, CNN and others.

I am a Pharmacy Technician

I worked in a pharmacy for 7 years but was not certified. I came to P.I.T. to check it out and after speaking with an admissions representative, I registered for P.I.T. in September 2013. After submitting my resume to several pharmacies, I began working in a pharmacy before I even got out of school. I have now completed my pharmacy technician certificate and I am now considering coming back for an Associate degree.

P.I.T. has done a lot for me and the teachers and staff are great.
written by:William Shipley (13shiple6766@pit.edu)

Becoming a Certified EKG Technician

IMG_9691There is a large demand in the Philadelphia area for Electrocardiogram (EKG) Technicians to work in hospitals, cardiology clinics, and laboratories.  EKG technicians provide cardiac performance data to physicians.

They explain the EKG procedure, attach electrodes to the patients, and provide data to physicians for interpretation.  EKG technicians monitor the heart’s performance with the use of the EKG machine, perform EKG tests, stress tests, Holter monitoring tests, and provide data for the physician’s analysis.

Training

The Pennsylvania Institute of Technology offers Rapid Learning Program Certificates at the Media campus for people interested in obtaining nationwide EKG technician certification. P.I.T. offers classes weekdays and weekends, days and evenings. Students can select the most convenient schedule if they are employed in other jobs.

 

Monitoring electrode

Monitoring electrode (Photo credit: quinn.anya)

Alternative Job Titles

Students who complete the EKG technician certificate will be able to apply for jobs such as:

  • EKG Technician
  • Electrocardiogram Technician
  • Cardiovascular Technician

 

Students will study:

  • EKG and cardiovascular systems
  • Human Body Systems I
  • Pharmacology and immunology

 

All equipment, scrubs, textbooks and lab tools are provided for people who want to learn about working with the latest EKG equipment.  Instructors are certified in EKG.

Most employers require a certification completion in EKG, as health insurance carriers provide coverage for the procedure only if it is performed by a certified EKG technician.  To that end, students prepare to take the NHA (National Healthcare Association) examination certifying them as CETs (Certified EKG Technicians).

Credits in the EKG program can be applied to an Associate Degree in Allied Health – Clinical Medical Assistant. P.I.T. also offers a Rapid Learning Program Certificate in the related field of Medical Billing and Coding.

The position of EKG technician a growing area with new diagnostic and monitoring technology entering the market, and the job outlook is promising.

P.I.T. is a non-profit accredited college offering financial assistance and career placement assistance to students at the Media campus and Center City Philadelphia site.

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The Therapy Review

What is new and exciting?

Physical Therapy Review

P.I.T. has begun construction of the second physical therapist assistant program laboratory. The new lab will provide additional room for course instruction, allow students open-lab time for practicing skills, and provide increased space for skills testing.

The lab furniture and equipment for the new laboratory was purchased in March and will be ready for delivery in May.

A new and improved PTA Program Student Handbook has been developed. The revision will be distributed to students at the start of the first semester, in the technical phase of instruction. New program goals and policies will be outlined in detail.

The search has begun for a third full time dedicated faculty member for the program. The faculty and administration are seeking an experienced clinician and educator to round out the core faculty. PTAs have been encouraged to apply!

 

Reminders

Please continue to monitor your College email box. This is the means by which P.I.T. will contact you with important information. Why? Your designated email from the college is more secure and therefore less likely to contain or allow the infiltration of computer viruses. So, if you are unable to log into your account, please notify the college’s information technology department for assistance, from the home email address you provided upon admission, and send the message to: webmaster@pit.edu

Your academic advisor is determined by your cohort section. Those in Cohort Section F should contact Dr. LaVonne Couch at lcouch@pit.edu and those in Cohort Section G should contact Mr. Chuck Hewlings at mailto:chewlings@pit.edu. If you are uncertain, please email either instructor for clarification.

The PTA Program has its own email address. If you have friends, family or employers who have questions about the program, please refer them to PTAProgram@pit.edu and a faculty member will respond.

Clinical observation forms need to be completed and returned to the program manager by April 30, 2014. PTA student candidates must complete twenty (20) hours of observation at the minimum of at least two (2) different physical therapy sites and submit the completed and signed observation form to the PTA Program Manager.

 

PTA Program update

On February 12-14, 2014, PIT hosted an on-site reviewer from CAPTE. The reviewer was able to meet with the PTA Program faculty, members of the program advisory board, licensed clinicians who have contracted with P.I.T. to be clinical instructors, and the leaders and administrators of the college.

P.I.T. received the summary report from the onsite reviewer in late February and completed, and returned, the institutional response to the report, and all requested documents, on the first day of Spring!

CAPTE will meet from April 25-30, 2014 to review all new and renewing physical therapist and physical therapist assistant programs from across the nation which are scheduled for their Spring meeting. A full list of programs to be reviewed can be obtained from the CAPTE website at http://www.capteonline.org/uploadedFiles/CAPTEorg/About_CAPTE/Calendar/Onsite_Visits/CAPTE_CalendarOnsiteVisits.pdf

The P.I.T. accreditation status statement has been upgraded and remains the mandatory minimum language required by CAPTE until a candidacy decision has been received (in late-April 2014):

Graduation from a physical therapist assistant education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; phone; 703-706-3245; accreditation@apta.org is necessary for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination, which is required in all states.
Pennsylvania Institute of Technology is seeking accreditation of a new physical therapist assistant education program from CAPTE. The program has submitted an Application for Candidacy, which is the formal application required in the pre-accreditation stage. Submission of this document does not assure that the program will be granted Candidate for Accreditation status. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status is required prior to implementation of the technical phase of the program; therefore, no students may be enrolled in technical courses until Candidate for Accreditation status has been achieved. Further, though achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status signifies satisfactory progress toward accreditation, it does not assure that the program will be granted accreditation.

 

The Process for Program Accreditation (reprinted from the July 2013 edition of the Therapy Review)

There are many steps involved in the process of obtaining CAPTE accreditation.

Submitting an application for candidacy (AFC) is just one step in the process of accreditation. Some of the most important steps include:

  • the hiring of a Program Director,
  • preparation of the curriculum,
  • hiring an Academic Clinical Coordinator of Education (ACCE),
  • obtaining and contracting with clinical sites,
  • preparation of and the submission of the AFC,
  • awaiting CAPTE determination of the quality of the AFC,
  • the modification of the AFC as requested by CAPTE,
  • an on-site visit by a CAPTE reviewer,
  • CAPTE reviewing report and granting candidacy status,
  • starting the technical portion of the program,
  • continued preparation of the self-study report to CAPTE,
  • students completing final clinical education courses,
  • another on-site visit,
  • the CAPTE decision of accreditation at their Spring meeting, and finally,
  • Graduation!

 

The faculty is working in conjunction with the Commission, our advisory board and clinical sites and instructors and a qualified consultant to ensure a viable program for many years to come!

New Degree Program Launching! Associate in Science – Health Science

Medical students and professor with skeleton in classroom at universityP.I.T. is launching an Associate in Science–Health Science degree program beginning in the summer of 2014. Below are a series of questions and answers which will answer many of your questions about this new degree program and how it relates to existing P.I.T. degree and certificate programs.

1.        What is the A.S. Health Science program?

The A.S. Health Science program prepares students to meet the minimum academic requirements for application to many medical-related professional programs in the greater Philadelphia region. These medical-related professional programs include nursing, physical therapist assistant, and other medical programs that require direct patient care. This also includes the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology’s Practical Nursing program and Physical Therapist Assistant program.

Completion of this program does not guarantee acceptance to include the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology’s Practical Nursing program and Physical Therapist Assistant program. These programs have additional admissions requirements.

2.        Will the A.S. Health Science program prepare students for medical-related professional programs at other colleges and universities?

Yes, the A.S. Health Science program prepares students to meet many of the minimum academic requirements for application to many health-related professional programs. If students plan to apply to a medical-related professional program at another college or university, they should consult with that institution’s catalog or website for specific admissions requirements and pre-requisite courses.

3.        What type of courses is included in the A.S. Health Science program?

The curriculum of this program is primarily composed of courses in science, mathematics, English and social sciences. These are courses generally required in any medical-related or health science curriculum.

4.        Why should a student enroll in this program if their career goal is to be a nurse, physical therapist assistant or another health care professional?

Admissions to an accredited nursing, physical therapist assistant, or another health care professional program is highly competitive. Generally, only students who have demonstrated exceptional strong academic skills are accepted for the limited number of openings.

In many instances, applicants are good candidates but they are not selected for the program due to the limited number of vacancies and the highly competitive program.

As a result, applicants need an opportunity to improve the chance of being accepted by proving to the college or university evidence of their ability to succeed and satisfactorily complete a medical-related program such as nursing, physical therapist assistant and other disciplines that will lead to a professional position.

The Health Science program at P.I.T. provides this proof! This program enables students seeking exceptional careers in the medical field to establish exceptional academic skills in health-care related subjects such as anatomy and physiology, mathematics, English and social sciences.

Students who earn top grades in these courses clearly demonstrate to faculty and admissions committees of medical professional programs their ability to excel at college level work. Similar, these students also substantiate academic perseverance. By earning excellent grade the sciences, mathematics, English and social sciences – knowledge required in the health-care field: –  they become prominent candidates for acceptance in a medical-related professional program.

5.        Must students complete all four semesters of the A.S. Health Sciences program?

No. Students are not required to complete all four semesters in the program unless they seek an associate degree in Health Sciences.

The flexibility of this program enables students to determine how many semesters or courses are required until they are confident that a record of academic excellence has been established at P.I.T. and an application to a professional medical program will be accepted.

In some instances, two semesters are appropriate to establish the academic foundation required for success. In other instances it may be additional semesters.

6.        Are students able to transfer the credits earned in the courses that they take in the Health Sciences program to medical-related professional programs?

Yes. A number of the courses students take in this program are pre-requisite courses required in health-related professional programs at other colleges and universities. In many instances, the courses taken in the Health Science program will meet the prerequisite course requirements and student may be accepted with advanced placement.

It is important that prospective students determine the actual course requirements of the medical or health-related program in which they seek acceptance.

 7.        The Pennsylvania Institute of Technology offers a Practical Nursing program. If a student completes one or two semesters in the Health Sciences program, will the student have a better chance of being accepted into P.I.T.’s nursing program.

Yes, when a student demonstrates academic competency especially in English and the science courses, the student will have met the minimum admissions requirements for the College’s Practical Nursing program.

The Practical Nursing program has other admissions requirements including F.B.I. criminal background check clearance, drug screen clearance, just to name a few prior to being accepted into the program.

8.        When does P.I.T. start the Practical Nursing program?

The College begins the Practical Nursing program twice a year, January and June.

It is important that a student demonstrate academic competency. As an example, it is suggested that the student enroll in the A.S. Health Science program in May for semester 1 and September for semester 2 that ends in December. This will result in starting the Practical Nursing program in January provided that all of the other admissions requirements are met.

9.        Will the A.S. Health Science program prepare students for admissions to the College’s A.S. Physical Therapist Assistant program?

Yes, the first two semesters of the A.S. Health Science program meet the requirements for the initial two semesters of the non-technical A.S. Physical Therapist Assistant program.

10.      If a student starts the Health Science program and then is admitted to the A.S. Physical Therapist Assistant program, what degree will be awarded upon the completion of the program of study?

Health Science StudentsIn this example, the student will be awarded the A.S. Physical Therapist Assistant degree. For the purposes of the Physical Therapist Assistant program, the student must complete semesters 1 and 2 of the Health Science program. The first two semesters of the Health Science program represent the first two semesters of the non-technical phase of the Physical Therapist Assistant program.

The student will be transferred into the Physical Therapist program when all the other admissions requirements have been met. The courses successfully completed in the A.S. Health Science program will be transferred into the Physical Therapist Assistant program.

11.      Does completion of two or more semesters of the Health Science program guarantee admission to P.I.T.’s Practical Nursing or Physical Therapist programs?

No, the successful completion of the A.S. Health Science program does not guarantee admission to the College’s Practical Nursing or Physical Therapist programs. These programs are highly competitive and only students who have the best opportunity to succeed will be admitted. Each one of these programs has specific additional admissions requirements.

 

To apply to P.I.T.’s A.S. Health Science program, click here.

Hot Topic in Nursing: Alarm Fatigue in ICU

If you keep your eye on nursing journals and blogs, you will see plenty of people talking about one of the hottest topics in nursing today: alarm fatigue in Intensive Care Units (ICU). In 2012, the ECRI Institute rated alarm fatigue as the number one hazard in the ICU environment.

The Problem

nursing program alarm fatigue in icuWhen you walk into an ICU room, you will see a ton of equipment sitting around a patient’s bed. Almost all of those items have at least one alarm. A few have multiple alarms. You could have a dozen or more potential alarms in a single room.

The reasons for the alarms going off can vary widely.  An alarm can go off:

  • If a problem occurs on the equipment
  • If the equipment or a portion of it becomes disconnected
  • If the equipment senses the patient is in distress
  • If the equipment gets unplugged and has a battery back-up

Those are just a few of the alarms that are there to tell the nursing staff if a problem is occurring.

The problem is that the nursing staff can become desensitized to the sounds of the alarms. In some cases, clinicians have been known to disable, silence, or just plain ignore alarms completely. Missed critical alarms can lead to patient injury and even death.

What Causes Alarm Fatigue?

Here are a couple of the reasons:

  • The number of false alarms is a major contributor to alarm fatigue. One study showed that in an emergency room setting, the percentage of false alarms from equipment hooked to cardiac patients sat at over 99 percent.
  • The sheer number of alarms can be a problem as well. A typical 8-hour shift can see nurses responding to 75 or more alarms in a typical ICU. Out of all of those alarms, only one or two is of a critical nature. Others are false or non-emergency alarms.
  • Staff members are also contending with the various alarm-type sounds emanating from their computers and cell phones.

Both of these show why nursing staff become desensitized to the alarms over time.

How Does the Staff Respond to the Alarm Situation?

The consequences of false alarms and overwhelming numbers of alarms can be significant:

  • False alarms create an environment where the staff does not trust the credibility of the system. They can become slower to respond to an alarm.
  • Alarms interfere with the normal routines of the nursing staff. Nurses are often taken away from routine care to handle alarms. To keep up patient care standards, nurses learn to ignore or delay response to alarms.
  • To keep alarm noises to a minimum, nursing staff may disable alarms completely or lower the volume considerably. This increases the rate of missed alarms significantly.

The consequences of missing alarms due to alarm fatigue are life-threatening in many cases. Between 2005 and 2008, the FDA received over 560 reports on patient deaths related to equipment alarm problems. Many of these were linked to alarm fatigue. The number of injuries reported is many times higher.

What is the Solution?

The medical community is responding:

  • The first line of defense is increasing awareness among nurses and making everyone aware of a potential problem.
  • Another immediate solution being pursued is routine monitoring of all alarm settings. When found turned off or disabled, the situation can be rectified immediately and the person who did it can be managed or counseled.
  • Medical equipment manufacturers are working to reduce the number of false alarms produced. They are looking at making the equipment smarter to catch false alarms before they happen.
  • Better education on how to use the equipment is another approach being used.  This can lower the number of false alarms.

The consequences of alarm fatigue are very real and pose a danger to patients. Anyone looking to enter the nursing profession needs to be aware of it and learn how to manage it.

 

Top Classes to Take In High School that Prepare Your for a Career in Nursing

According to the United States Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurses will outstrip most professions between now and 2020. Becoming a nurse is not only a good career move, but a good personal one for many people; you get to spend your life dedicated to helping other people. While empathy is a great characteristic for nursing, naturally you will require educational courses in the segment as well and there are certain courses you can take while in high school to help prepare you for a career in nursing.pa nursing students

There are three areas which will help you immensely as you move through your nursing education and into the field: reading comprehension, communication and science.

Reading comprehension is extremely important, not only for your course work, but also for your career. Being able to read, understand, interpret, and use the information contained in your texts or, eventually, on patient charts or medication for decision-making will be vital to your responsibilities as nurse and care-giver. Not reading with clarity or understanding could result in treatment decisions that endanger your patient’s life.

If your high school doesn’t offer reading comprehension classes, there are lots of websites that offer strategies, practice and even worksheets. Search for “high school reading comprehension” and select the website(s) that best suits your needs.

Communication is one of the most important skills of a nurse. You will need to be able to communicate clearly and concisely in all sides of the equation: to your peers, to medical administration, insurance companies, your patients, and patient’s families.

Coursework that will help you develop these skills in high school would include English and public speaking. The former will provide you with the fundamentals of communicating, and the latter will help you build confidence to speak with a wide variety of people extemporaneously.

There will be many science-related courses in your nursing education, and getting down the basics in high school will not only assist you with your further studies, but it is possible, in some nursing programs, that you might be able to receive some credit for your earlier studies by passing proficiency exams.

If your high school offers them (or if you can take courses from nearby advanced schools and receive high school credit), study the life sciences like biology, anatomy, and physiology. The more biology courses you can take the better. Basic chemistry and math courses will help as well.

Today, there is more emphasis in the medical field on living well; to avoid health problems, so courses in nutrition and healthy lifestyles will also be of benefit.

Basic psychology can be useful in helping to gain a clearer understanding of the people you will be dealing with in your career.

There are two other things you can do while in high school to prepare for a career in nursing. Volunteering in the health care field will give you a practical insight into the experiences you will have in your professional career and also give you a clearer basis for understanding some of the courses you will receive in your education. Many large hospital, VA facilities, and nursing homes have programs for volunteers. Because of licensing regulations, you won’t actually care for patients, but you will get a good overview of the different types of nurses that are in demand and their duties.

Also of benefit would be to engage in extracurricular activities at school. Consider activities that will help you develop further communication skills and learn better skills for working in groups. Take a CPR course. Choose activities that bring you in contact with large groups of diverse personalities.

Preparing for the next step in your educational life is always a good idea, and if you are planning on an education and careers in nursing, taking steps to prepare while still in high school is an excellent idea.

 

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 Mandates the Adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHR) in all Healthcare Institutions

The need for comprehensive health care reform in this country is opening doors for people looking to improve their career options. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law an act that focuses on preventative care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A key part of this restructuring is a mandate for all medical facilities to use electronic health records.

The adoption of EHR means institutions will need to expand their IT departments to handle this change. The need for specialists in this field is on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the Health Information Technology industry will add over 37,000 jobs by the year 2020 – making this a promising career opportunity.

EHR Defined

An electronic health record is a systematic collection of electronic data about each patient that is transmittable in digital format. This means of collating information allows for enterprise-wide networking between medical facilities and insurance companies and the transmission of real-time information from office to office.

EHR technology has existed in the U.S. for more than 30 years, but new laws have brought it into focus. The HITECH Act of 2009 provided the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a budget of 25.9 billion dollars to expand the use of health information technology. Since that time, more medical facilities have gone electronic.

The Washington Post reports that President Obama added an additional 787 billion dollar stimulus package to push industry expansion further. This included the development of a nationwide network to support EHR. Title IV of the HITECH Act offers maximum incentive payments to those who adopt the meaningful use of EHRs. HITECH provided the groundwork and the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act closes the loop to foster full compliance.

The Role of the Health Information Technician

Privacy is paramount in this field. It is the job of the Health Information Technician to protect it. Part of that process is the use of various classification codes to categorize patient data for electronic distribution. Technicians trained in this field:

  • Review patient records to ensure proper coding and completeness
  • Organize data for clinical databases
  • Protect records against unauthorized access

These IT health professionals train and become certified on classification software. Education requirements vary from state to state but most employers require postsecondary study and an associate’s degree in EHR or health information technology.

The Role of the Electronic Health Record Technician

electronic health information The EHR technician focuses on electronic records and supporting the network. They evaluate filing systems and equipment while maintaining database records. The job requires the ability to transfer paper records to electronic format for transmission and storage.

Online Resources

The federal government offers a number of web resources that enable students to learn more about EHR technology and helps medical offices train staff for the transition. HealthIT.gov presents online training documents that focus on using EHR to its full potential. The site includes funding information for offices looking to develop an IT workforce that specializes in this industry, as well.

Going paperless is a massive undertaking for the medical community. It requires facilities at every level to migrate their chart systems from the old-school paper format to electronic databases. This will require specialized training and IT implementation.

Every region in the U.S. has an extension office specifically geared to manage this change. Anyone looking to work in this blossoming field can check their extension office for more information or discuss training options with their school or employer. If looking to change careers or gain new skills, the EHR industry is a viable consideration in health care.