Understanding Billing Workflow  
UniCharts EMR have a section called "Billing" that is dedicated to tracking of charge tickets and extracting billing information on their basis. A charge ticket is internally generated and sent to this billing section the moment encounter form is signed. This charge ticket contains all the relevant demographic and insurance information of patient along with the ICD and EM/CPT codes entered on the encounter form by the physician.




An encounter may be signed by clicking the lock icon at the top right corner of the encounter form as shown in the screenshot below. But please be aware that it is not necessary to sign the encounter on day of the visit - physician may sign it the next day or even days later if required - but whenever it is signed, the action would generate a charge ticket for that encounter and send it to the billing section (the prescription locking mechanism has been specifically developed to allow printing/faxing of prescriptions even if the encounter form has not yet been completed and signed - this allows sending off patients and completing everything later). This implies that charge tickets within the billing section are grouped on the basis of dates on which their corresponding encounters are signed. To explain it further, suppose there is an encounter having a date of 01 Dec 2011 but it is signed on 03 Dec 2011 as shown below.




Now if the charge tickets of 01 Dec 2011 are retrieved by selecting "Specific Date" option in the search field, the charge ticket of the above encounter would not be present in the resulting list. Instead, it would show up along with the charge tickets of 03 Dec 2011.




The above screenshot shows the search option being used to retrieve charge tickets. And there may be times when you will need to retrieve and open tickets individually for editing or any other purpose. However, most of the time there should not be any need to search for or open charge tickets individually. Assuming that clinicians started using the EMR software on 01 Jan 2012, the in-house billing staff should just open the batch window next day, that is on 02 Jan 2012, and select "Yesterday" option to generate a batch of bills for all encounters that clinicians may have signed on 01 Jan 2012. The process would be repeated on 03 Jan 2012 to generate bills of encounters that may have been signed on 02 Jan 2012 and so on.




The generation and export of bills has been discussed up to this point. But in what format would be the billing information contained in those bills? The EMR system supports three common formats and it depends on what option has been selected by you in the customization area.




The first option shown above is human-readable superbills format. This is the default option and does not require any configuration whatsoever. As such, it is the preferred option of practices that are either at initial stages of EMR implementation or for some reason want to keep things simple. They just generate a batch of superbills every day and hand it over to their inhouse biller or billing company for further processing. As the superbills are human-readable, they may also be printed instead of being saved as a digital file.




The second option is machine-readable CSV (comma separated values) format. Once you change to this option, the bills generated then onwards would be comprised of CSV data instead of superbills. As you may know, the CSV data can be imported into any software that understands this format. This software may be an in-house billing program or a billing system used by the billing company. Note that a comprehensive utility is available that allows administrator to define and fine-tune structure of the export file and all the data elements therein. This is a one-time procedure. Once the structure of the file is defined, billing person just has to click a button to export entire day's worth of billing information in CSV format. The file is saved at user specified location on the hard drive from where it could be imported into the target practice management system, billing software or bookkeeping program. Click HERE for more on configuring the CSV export utility.




The third option is machine-readable PIF (print image format) format. The "Print Image" data files are the text equivalent of CMS-1500 forms and widely supported by billing companies and clearing houses. Just like the CSV option above, billing person just has to click a button to export entire day's worth of billing information in PIF format. The file is saved at user specified location on the hard drive from where it could be imported into the target billing software or clearing house for scrubbing and further processing. Note that if you are using an online clearing house, this option may be the easiest way to transfer billing information from EMR to the clearing house. You will just need to export the entire day's worth of billing information in PIF format and then upload the exported file on their website. Once the data is there, you will be able to make any needed additions and/or corrections online, and submit as appropriate. Click HERE for complete specifications of the EMR generated PIF files.




Finally, please try the Help topics for more on billing aspect of the program. Just click on the help icon when you are on billing screen and it will present the topics related to the billing workflow of EMR software.





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