Posted By Hope Alfaro On March 16, 2017
As the future of the Affordable Care Act and budgets for social services loom in the balance, it is more important than ever for clinics and health centers depending on federal funds or grant money to stretch their dollars as much as possible. Title X and Family Planning have been the most tenuous of grant-funded services, and are often at the front lines when discussions of budget cuts come up. The need for these services, especially in under-insured and at-risk populations, cannot be overstated.
So how, in these uncertain times, can public health departments, community health centers, and family planning clinics continue to provide the highest level of service while reaching more patients? There are four great ways health centers providing family planning services can improve their funding as well as improve processes to make their dollars go farther:
Breeze through Family Planning Annual Reports (FPAR)
Annual reporting is required of every clinic or organization that provides family planning services and receive grants under Title X. The data collected is important not just to keep track of what services are most provided to the community, but also to make sure each clinic has the right funds allocated. Automating this process through your Electronic Health Record can save hours of paperwork and headache to your staff. Your EHR should be able to record and save information required of FPAR including patient demographics, the types of services rendered, and individual project revenue. With the advancement of EHR technologies, this should be an easy option. With more accurate reports you can expect more accurate funds.
Let data be your friends
Your EHR Data isn’t only good for reporting. You can also use it to monitor the financial health of your Title X networks and enhance your value proposition to local and state government officials. While you are collecting so much information on your demographics and services rendered for FPAR, you can take that same data and use it to highlight the importance of your services in the community. The Guttmacher Institute is an excellent source for finding secondary data to further back up your value. You can fill in data on your services and provide relevant grant funders and government officials information on how much money your services have saved, or how many negative outcomes you have prevented.
Enhance your Billing
This might seem like the most obvious place to improve your funds, but it isn’t always the easiest. Billing for Title X funding grantees can be complicated with sliding fee scales, confidential visits, and various forms of private and public funding. Making sure you know who your confidential payers are and have it plugged into your EHR will ensure you are paid for any visits you can be paid for through insurance. The ability to accept and check insurance eligibility can ensure consistent funds into your center, regardless of size. Your EHR should also be able to handle sliding fee scales without any additional calculations and effort on your end. Beyond technology, you should have billing experts on hand, either in house or through your EHR vendor, to make sure you are utilizing the correct codes to get the most out of your efforts.
Learn how to communicate
Even if you are billing correctly and utilizing your data, letting your community know about your services is crucial to getting people into your office. The Guttmacher Institute provides a free calculator to see the yearly cost savings, infection prevention, and benefits of publicly funded family planning for your health center. This information can then be used as marketing collateral. “Join us at our annual free HIV Testing Day! Last year we prevented over 150 HIV infections, help us beat that number this year.” Social media in general, and Facebook in particular, provides a two-way communications channel for healthcare marketing. Individuals can connect with others interested in the same medical topic, illness or injury, and in some instances, give and get feedback from health facilities. There also might be additional options in your EHR for communicating with current patients to make sure they keep being seen at your center.
Despite efforts to cut funding or cull services, Family Planning and Reproductive health services still present a critical piece of healthcare. There are still ways to make sure you are reaching as many people as possible and ensure your facility keeps its doors open in the process.