Surviving the Audit: How to Avoid Major Fines for Your Orthopedic Practice

An orthopedic practice has enough to worry about on any given day. From patient intake to surgery complications to staff calling out sick, there are an infinite number of moving parts to keep track of. That’s why any additional disruption can make a practice feel stretched even thinner. Audits may be necessary, but they’re also complicated and can throw a staff’s schedule into chaos. They can also lead to massive fines, as one orthopedic practice in Oklahoma found out recently.

A Tale from the Heartland

The Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center-Norman in Oklahoma made a chilling discovery after one of their internal audits. They found that certain professionals in the center were committing billing fraud by charging government programs for services that were never performed and for equipment that was never used. After discovering this, staff went straight to the authorities and fully cooperated with all requests. However, it should be noted that their billing irregularities went on for more than 5 years before anyone sounded the alarm. While this particular office didn’t have to deal with a messy battle in court, they were required to pay $1.5 million in fines to settle the matter. They also had to cope with what was likely a painful investigation, as well as a loss of reputation within the community. If they had made use of a better EHR system though, they may never have been put into this situation at all.

Better Strategies

The tale from Oklahoma should hit home with every orthopedic practice. Very few of the administrative staff in any given office would believe that their doctors were up to no good, and unfortunately, this is only one of many ways that a practice may get in trouble after an audit. Protection when it comes to billing and record keeping needs to take into account every possible scenario if it’s going to be effective. A quality record keeping system not only keeps you compliant with all the latest in federal regulations, but it also gives you exceptional visibility into what’s happening when you’re not around. It can make audits run much smoother, and it can alert you to mistakes (intentional or otherwise) far sooner than you ever could have with your current system. Exscribe is specifically designed for the orthopedic practice, and its intuitive layout keeps the most important information at your fingertips at all times. It helps transitions run smoother, workflow go faster and increases the productivity of practically everyone who uses it.

Best Practices

Audits are a good way to review anything that may be going wrong with your billing and data-keeping practices. But the best time to discover a problem is right when it happens, and not months down the line. An orthopedic practice that delays documentation or waits to reconcile their accounts is in danger. When you’re constantly reviewing the information in the system, you become faster at spotting the anomalies in billing. These quick fixes can snowball if ignored, which is why it helps to have the best possible tools in place to make it easier to handle it all.