No issue will get more attention at this year's HFMA institute than ambulatory patient classifications, or APCs, Medicare's new prospective payment system for outpatient services.
No fewer than eight breakout sessions will touch on APC implementation.
Regulations were released April 7, leaving little time for most hospitals to prepare before a scheduled implementation date of July 1. Small hospitals will be phased in by 2004.
"There are still a lot of hospitals with their head in the sand, if you can believe it," says William DeMarco, president of DeMarco & Associates, a consulting firm based in Rockford, Ill.
DeMarco will target an executive-level audience with his presentation, "APCs Over the Long Term" scheduled for Tuesday, June 27, from 2: 30 p.m. to 4: 30 p.m. He'll repeat it Wednesday, June 28, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Because both sessions filled quickly, HFMA added an audio teleconference to be presented by DeMarco and his associate in the firm, Jennifer Marx, Monday, June 26, from 1: 30 p.m. to 3: 30 p.m.
DeMarco will give an overview of the changes hospital will have to make to implement APCs and discuss the importance of appointing an APC coordinator.
Calling working with physicians to develop coding and procedures "probably the biggest barrier that's being overlooked in the implementation of APCs," DeMarco says APCs can facilitate joint ventures with physicians. He'll discuss those along with three other potential business opportunities he says are presented by APCs: activity-based accounting, direct-contracting with employers and profiting under Medicare's move to severity indexing.
"If I can do all that in 90 minutes, I'll be in really good shape," DeMarco says.
DeMarco, who has consulted on a variety of physician managed-care ventures, will also present a session on physician integration titled "Beyond PHOs," on Wednesday, June 28, from 8 a.m. to 11: 30 a.m. The session will cover why physician-hospital organizations have failed and what integration strategies offer hope for success.
At the other end of the spectrum, Manie Campbell, a partner at CampbellWilson consulting firm in Dallas, will give a quick introduction to APCs for entry-level financial professionals during his session titled "Medicare Cost Reporting 101," on Monday, June 26, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
"It's going to force us to change the way we do a lot of things. Initially . . . our cash flow is probably going to slow down. We're going to have different types of billing issues that we haven't had before," Campbell says.
Campbell, who specializes in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, also will point out ways to maximize reimbursement under Medicare, such as proper reporting of the wage index.