Providing Access to Practice Management Resources During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Ongoing Efforts of the ADAM

Timely access to practice management resources has become critically important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dermatology Practice Management spoke with Tony Davis, Director of Vision and Strategy, Dermatology Specialists, Edina, MN, and President of the Association of Dermatology Administrators & Managers (ADAM), about the organization’s goals and mission, including its efforts to support dermatology professionals during the ongoing crisis.

The ADAM, which was established in 1993, provides dermatology professionals with resources and educational opportunities to facilitate practice management and growth. Members of ADAM include administrators, practice managers, accountants, attorneys, and physicians from private, group, and academic practices.

“Currently, one of our primary efforts is financial benchmarking and compensation design, how to split the pie, so to speak, between physicians and mid-level providers,” Mr Davis said. ADAM is involved in numerous other practice management initiatives, including human resource issues, the legal aspects of networking, and compliance with privacy and security regulations.

“We focus quite a bit on HIPAA, and OSHA regulations—all the government issues that affect the clinic,” he went on to say. “Those are the topics that drive our annual conference and that come up frequently in our chat rooms and on our Facebook page.”

Mr Davis also explained that ADAM is receiving many questions related to running a dermatology practice during the COVID-19 pandemic, including questions regarding management of accounts receivable, insurance company contracting, and negotiations. Another hot topic is electronic integration to facilitate process and workflow improvement.

“The technology aspect is key,” he asserted. “In dermatology, we are seeing consolidation in the technology vendors. If you implement a few simple checkpoints along the way, you can avoid dragging out your payments. For example, if you give the insurance companies clean claims, you usually get paid quickly and without too much angst.”

Current Challenges

Mr Davis noted that the primary concern during the COVID-19 pandemic is the safety of patients, employees, and physicians. The financial health of dermatology practices is also a pressing concern, as many practices are now experiencing the effects of lost patient volume.

“There was a delay, because for the initial 4 to 6 weeks, we were still being reimbursed for the work we had done previously,” he said. “I think that the next several weeks will be the worst of it, as we rebuild. The Paycheck Protection Program money, the Medicare dollars we have received, have been sufficient to keep us going. I think that is true for many clinics. However, the cosmetic dermatology practices have been suffering the most because of restrictions on elective procedures.”

Mr Davis also discussed the evolving role of telemedicine in dermatology practices.

“Truthfully, even if the reimbursement rules had not been revised, I do not think that would have mattered very much,” he said. “However, it is helpful that we are able to charge for a full Evaluation and Management visit when it is performed virtually.”

“We’re probably 50/50 right now in terms of in-clinic appointments versus online appointments,” he said. “I think that telemedicine is here to stay, especially for the management of certain patients and medical conditions, such as younger patients on isotretinoin for severe acne.”

Private payers are also easing their regulations regarding telemedicine visits. “Some are even allowing audio-only visits. It is important because many patients are not tech savvy or have poor Internet connections. In addition, some payers have relaxed their prior authorization requirements and have extended the timeframe in which biologics need to be reauthorized,” he said.

The Post–COVID-19 Era

“Somewhere down the road, we’re going to move out of this phase,” Mr Davis said. “It will be interesting to see what the payers do at that point—whether they revert back to their previous stance regarding prior authorizations and telemedicine visits.”

Mr Davis suggested that another outcome of the pandemic will be that more employees will be working remotely, particularly nonclinical staff members whose responsibilities include prior authorizations, coding, and billing.

“Working remotely is a great solution, as long as employees are productive,” he explained.

Ongoing Efforts

In the next 12 to 18 months, the ADAM will focus on disseminating information related to practice operations. “We’ve started a series of webinars,” he explained. “It is probably the best way right now to get information out to our members.”

Mr Davis said it is unlikely that the ADAM will hold its annual meeting in 2020. As a result, it is critical for members to stay connected to the organization.

“We have access to great experts,” Mr Davis said. “Providing our membership with timely information from experienced professionals that really know what they are doing is very important. This is especially true for members in small practices who have limited access to other resources.”

Dermatology professionals interested in learning more about the ADAM can visit the organization’s website at www.ada-m.org/.

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