In this post, we discuss 3 steps to avoiding healthcare IT problems that might come up during this leap year of 2016.
If you are scheduling surgery for March 1, make sure that it isn’t actually February 29. As a leap year, 2016 has an extra day, which could disrupt care, scheduling and finances if you’re not prepared.
Improperly configured health IT systems may ignore the extra day and treat the Monday that is February 29 as March 1 instead. Given that systems sometimes aren’t prepared even for recurring changes in Daylight savings time, you should prepare now to mitigate potential patient safety, operational and financial risk involved with the less common occurrence of leap year.
Leap year poses potential problems in the following areas.
Patient care and safety
- Medication schedules/administration could be affected, resulting in missed or inaccurate dosing and “stop order” accuracy.
- Recurring diagnostics like lab tests and EKGs could be needlessly delayed or missed.
- Inaccurate surgery schedules for pre-admission and actual procedures could cause confusion and delays, resulting in massive re-scheduling needs.
- Outpatient-scheduled visits and diagnostics like lab tests may be scheduled for the wrong day.
- Incorrect physician office hours could cause scheduling conflicts.
- Staff and resource scheduling conflicts may arise across the organization.
Revenue capture and integrity
- Daily charges could be incorrectly dated or missed entirely, which could cause revenue or audit problems with third-party payers.
- Service levels and changes in service levels could be inaccurate.
- An “approved number of days” for treatment under third-party length-of-stay guidelines could expire on the wrong date, potentially requiring you to reconcile discrepancies or argue for reimbursements.
Avoid pitfalls by preparing for leap year.
- Confirm that your vendors have accounted for the extra day by contacting them immediately.
- Audit your systems to ensure that they are configured correctly.
- Plan for problems anyway.
Test your systems now and test them again by Feb. 28 to avoid disruptions. Establish remediation plans and ensure that your staff knows how to implement them and revert to downtime procedures if needed.
Leap year may only come once every four years, but it could cause you problems now if you’re not prepared.
Bob Steele is executive vice president of Clinical Services for The HCI Group.