New AMA product analyzes fees for doctors' offices
■ PATH allows users to compare their practices with national averages and Medicare rates to see if they're using certain modifiers more than their peers.
By Emily Berry — Posted Oct. 6, 2010
The American Medical Association has developed a tool for physicians and their practice staffs to analyze and adjust their offices' fee schedules.
Practice Analysis Tools for Healthcare, or PATH, is meant to serve as an online consultant to physicians.
"AMA PATH will make it more efficient for physicians to develop and maintain a fee schedule that demonstrates to patients, payers, regulators and auditors that their charges are market-sensitive and fiscally responsible," AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, MD, said in a Sept. 21 news release announcing the product's launch.
The PATH user pays for access to three modules: one analyzing fees, one examining the practices' use of procedure codes, and the third looking at its use of modifier codes.
Users can upload their fee schedules from a spreadsheet or practice management software, or enter it directly into PATH.
It allows users to compare their practices with national averages and Medicare rates, gauge compliance with fee rules, and generate reports that suggest fee adjustments based on all those factors.
The tool will allow the user to export those new fees to practice management software and show the estimated financial impact of adopting the new fee schedule.
Analysis of a practice's use of modifier codes helps the physician or manager see if the practice is using certain modifiers more often than its peers, and anticipate how the practice's bills might look to an auditor.
Susan Childs, a practice management consultant in Rougemont, N.C., who is not affiliated with the AMA, said practices that can't afford a consultant could benefit from PATH. She said it's especially helpful for practices to see national statistics and examine how often they use certain modifiers.
It's key for practices to routinely examine their fee schedules so they're ready to negotiate with insurers and have a basis for what to charge self-pay patients, Childs said.
Access to PATH is available at an introductory rate of $199 until Dec. 31, and the price is further discounted for AMA members.