Reliance on GEM for ICD-10. Good or bad?

Good or bad, ICD-10 launched on October 1st 2015. Many are scrambling to make sense of the change and adapt to the huge increase in the numbers of diagnostic codes now available. The ICD-9 codes, which many know by heart, are no longer valid - they need an ICD-10 code instead.

To help address this, many vendors have provided General Equivalency Mapping utilities, GEM for short. Sigmund Software includes a GEM as part of our own EHR suite. GEM utilities enable care providers to input a known ICD-9 code, and then select from a broad range of matching new ICD-10 codes.

So, are GEM's also good, or bad? Our clients unanimously agree, definitely good. We worked hard to make ours user-friendly and intuitive. Our GEM helps Sigmund users make sense of the transition between ICD-9 and ICD-10 and speed along the migration process. Terrific!

But of course, it's not that simple.

Congress Sends Letter to OMB and HHS, Urging Stage 3 Delay

With ICD-10 due to hit the streets on October 1st, the already reeling healthcare industry was rocked again when on September 28, 116 members of Congress wrote a co-signed letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging a delay of the implementation of Stage 3 rules for Meaningful Use.

The nine page letter comprises one and a half pages of writing - and seven and a half pages of congressional signatures.

The Final Run Up To ICD-10

The clock is ticking ever louder as we race toward October 1st and the official launch of ICD-10. Less than one week remains. Many are prepared. More are not. Some have no plans whatsoever and will wait to see what happens, while some refuse point-blank to accept the change and will fight against it to the bitter end.
Whichever camp you fall into, now is the time to make sure you are certain of the implications and how they will affect you.
Sigmund Software is ahead of the curve.

Expired Patents Will Soon Save Billions

Pharmaceuticals are expensive. Very expensive. Some of that cost is due to patents on drugs and medications, which force drug manufacturers to pay high licensing fees just for the right to be able to use a particular methodology or base material to get their products off the production line and into pharmacies: Patenting molecules is big business.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine believe this may be about to change. Their recent study indicates that patents on several commonly used antipsychotics are due to expire shortly, opening the door for manufacturers to create generic alternatives. Alternatives which will come in significantly cheaper, reducing the cost of medications across the board. Treatment facilities, hospitals, community care patients and Medicare itself will be able to access this newly affordable drug market at much more budget-conscious levels as market forces kick in and manufacturers compete on price. That is good. Very good.

Medicare: Study Indicates OOP Costs Exceed Deductibles for Many

Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine (University of Pennsylvania) discovered that for over 25% of Medicare beneficiaries with multiple observation stays, the out-of-pocket costs exceeds what their inpatient hospital admission deductibles would cost. The growing trend to have Medicare patients admitted for observation is understandable, given that providers do not want to see their Medicare claims denied further down the line. The cost, though, is being deferred to those patients that find themselves in hospital for observation several times before finally achieving Inpatient status and receiving treatment.

Medicare considers Observation care as Outpatient service, regardless of where in the hospital they actually stay - be that a ward, private room, or the ER. Outpatient equals out of pocket. Costs for the visit will usually fall below the regular Medicare plan deductible ceiling.

The Forever Family Walk

Sigmund Software EHR grew out of the dedicated work of a team of behavioral health practitioners that found they needed a dedicated tool to use in their daily work to help others. Those practitioners understood first-hand the struggles faced by those with troubled minds, those with addictions, and those with lifestyle issues. That perspective, that culture, still drives Sigmund today. And that is why we are pleased to announce our sponsorship of the Forever Family Walk.

The Forever Family Walk (FFW) is a two-year project, brainchild of Jarett Wilkins, a young man with a mission. Jarett will walk 6,000 miles and cross more than 30 U.S. States to raise awareness of the issues faced by children in foster care. From California to New York, over mountains and across deserts, through rain and wind and storm, Jarett will be walking, and volunteering at least one day to selected foster care organizations in each state as he travels. He will be taking that opportunity to interview industry leaders and facility managers, spokespeople and workers along the way. The goal is simple: Find out what is working, what is not, and what needs to be done, where.

Telehealth Market Value to Reach $34.27 Billion by 2020

According to a market research report from Mordor Intelligence, the future holds great things for all things telehealth. The academically titled report, 'Global Telemedicine Market - Growth, Trends & Forecasts (2015 - 2020)', advises that the primary market areas to exhibit growth will be telepathology, teleradiology, teledermatology and telepsychology.

'Telehealth' is the latest buzz word to hit the medical arena, replacing its predecessor, the now ageing 'telemedicine', due to the incredible diversity and growth in modern technology which goes far beyond just medicine. Telehealth, from the same Greek root 'tele', meaning 'distant', is a compound word which covers all aspects of remote healthcare.

Windows 10 New Default Settings May Open HIPAA Backdoors. Or not.

Like 67 million others in the first week of release, I have upgraded to Windows 10. It was a painless transition which held no drama - it just worked. I was, however, interested to discover the defaults which the new Microsoft operating system ships with. Defaults which could potentially compromise the security and stability of medical practices and facilities. This is what you need to know.

Windows 10 introduces automatic updating by default. Updates will occur when Microsoft says they will. This is good, in that any zero day patches for serious issues will be rolled out automatically, protecting the entire Windows using population even while they sleep. That is pretty amazing. It could be problematic, however, if Microsoft decides to reboot all your practice computers during the working day. Imagine a power outage. Same result. You can override this new default and set your own schedule, and I will show you how to do this further on in this article.

BYOD Security and HIPAA Audits

Many EHR solutions (including of course those from Sigmund Software) offer a secure web-based interface through which practitioners can access a patient's personal health information (PHI) and medical data from any Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) equipment. That could be a tablet, a smartphone, a laptop, or any computer that can connect to the Internet.

The EHR software interface itself offers HIPAA compliant security – secured connections and auto-lockout after a set period of inactivity, for example. That covers someone walking away leaving their unlocked phone on a table. But what happens when your phone / tablet / laptop is stolen?

Merger Creates New Jersey's Largest Hospital System

The largest healthcare system in New Jersey has been created by the merger of Barnabas Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Health System. The new system will operate as RWJ Barnabas Health. The new organization will have 30,000 employees and an operating revenue of $4.5 billion per annum. RWJ Barnabas Health will have a market share of roughly one third within the region covered by its 11 hospitals. The deal still requires a seal of final approval from the Attorney General of New Jersey. This is confidently expected sometime within the next twelve months.

2015 SAMHSA Voice Awards

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the SAMHSA Voice Awards. It takes place on Wednesday August 12, 2015, at Royce Hall, UCLA in Los Angeles. “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Chandra Wilson (aka  Dr. Miranda Bailey) will be the host for this annual event.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) uses the Voice Awards as a vehicle to address public attitudes towards mental health and addiction issues, by recognizing community leaders, TV and Film professionals whose work and personal stories of resilience showcase the community contributions that can be made by those that currently are or that have recovered from mental and substance abuse disorders.

The spotlight of the Voice Awards this year will focus on the high national suicide rate. Linked closely to behavioral health issues, suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the US. This shocking statistic will be addressed by the Voice Awards program which will discuss support services and information which could save lives and aid grieving families by featuring the inspirational stories of some of those community leaders, TV personalities and film actors, and of how they overcame their personal demons or were affected by the actions of others.

To find out more about the Voice Awards, including the program and how to get tickets, click HERE to visit the SAMHSA web site.

CMS Relaxes ICD-10 Burden On Providers

The CMS confirms that the October 1st deadline for transition to ICD-10 will not change. That date is fixed. They have, however, recently announced new measures which will allow struggling providers and EP's a little breathing space while they prepare for this coding system implementation.

First up, a new and dedicated communication and collaboration center for ICD-10 implementation, which will triage issues and smooth out potholes. This department will oversee the transition and the easements just introduced. It will also feature an ICD-10 Ombudsman, putting a more human face on transition issues and provider concerns.

What easements? Good question.

Five more reasons to outsource your medical billing today

Many benefits are given for outsourcing medical billing. Some of the more intangible ones are actually the best. Dollars and cents often speak loudest, but taking the five less obvious points below into consideration may be more persuasive to some. Depending on the unique variables which make up a medical practice you may find if possible to gain practical improvements and save money.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Here, then, are our five selections of the less obvious reasons to outsource your medical billing.

Patient Assessment and Progress Notes with AURA EHR from Sigmund Software


Leverage flexible Content Management Controls in AURA to develop organizationally defined instrumentation that has intelligence.

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Custom User Interfaces with Administrative Dashboards in the AURA EHR from Sigmund Software



Enjoy greater controls over the vital signs of your organization with personalized custom administrative Dashboards from AURA.

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