Case Management

Sneak peek: Deduct active monitoring time to bill observation appropriately

Case Management Weekly, March 2, 2011

The official length of a professional football game is 60 minutes, but anyone who watches the game on Sunday knows a game beginning at 1 p.m. typically ends around 4 p.m. The various stoppages in play and television commercials add to the overall duration of the game, but the action on the field only occurs for 60 minutes. 

The same idea can be applied to observation services. Patients may be in the hospital for several hours, but when you subtract the time patients spend waiting for transportation or undergoing procedures that require “active monitoring,” the billable observation time is reduced. 

Observation services are a specific set of services provided to a patient while the physician decides whether to admit or discharge the patient. That means if a patient undergoes a procedure that requires “active monitoring,” he or she is not receiving observation services during the procedure. 

However, successfully carving out active monitoring time isn’t easy, according to Deborah K. Hale, CCS, president of Administrative Consultant Service, LLC, in Shawnee, OK. 

Check out the March 2011 issue of Case Management Monthly to learn more. You also can discover the benefits of becoming a Case Management Monthly subscriber.

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