resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Art of Listening
One of the most important clinical concepts for me was voiced by the legendary physician William Osler. "Listen to your patient, he/she is telling you the diagnosis." After treating literally thousands of patients, it can become almost second nature to quickly discover clues which reveal the underlying diagnosis.
Essentials of Assessment: The Squat
The squat is a simple, fast and functional tool to evaluate patient symmetry and function. As simple and easy as it is to implement, it can yield considerable amounts of valuable, clinically relevant information.
An Interview with Amanda Shayle
JW: Can you share with us some of your history and how you became an acupuncturist? What did you do prior to becoming an acupuncturist? Where did you go to school?
Business Lesson #1: Adapt or Else
My wife and I recently enjoyed an excellent meal at a restaurant recommended by some friends. We often have concerns about restaurant recommendations, as many have been disappointing.
Musculoskeletal Disorders Take Center Stage
Looking for the latest on the musculoskeletal pain epidemic and the increasing premium placed on preventive strategies including chiropractic? Check out The Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans – Opportunities for Action.
The IME System: A Current Public Health Risk and Solutions That Are Working
I strongly believe in the independent medical examination (IME) system. There are far too many doctors in every profession who are not following E&M protocols and never claim MMI (maximum medical improvement) has occurred for their patients, which has caused financial stress for many private and public carriers.
Filling the Gap: The Role of Alternative Practitioners in a Broken Health Care System
I have been asked many times what got me into alternative medicine. My answer is simple: I want to truly help and make a difference in people's health.
Roots in the Community, Branches Far Beyond
The Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine (JTS) was founded in 1998 by Sean Christian Marshall in Sugar Grove, North Carolina, a small community near Boone in the state's westernmost mountains.
Transparency is Key at ASA First Annual Meeting
On March 4th and 5th the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) held a successful first annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The Rest of the Patient Story
I've written previously about allowing a patient to tell you their story – about taking the time to listen and engage all the aspects of their case history, the injury in question, and the related issues.
The Power of Eccentric Exercise: Hamstring Injury Prevention and Rehab
For almost 20 years, I've worked with professional athletes who make a living by running really fast. It goes without saying that hamstring injury (HSI) prevention and rehabilitation is a big part of what they expect from a sports chiropractor.
Health and Wellness Partnership
Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and The Wellness Center at the LAC + USC Historic General Hospital recently joined forces to extend care to the residents of Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
How to Find and Fix TL Nerve Impingements
The thoracolumbar junction (TLJ) and the peripheral sensory nerves that exit from it are frequent, important and rarely recognized sources of lower back, pelvic and hip pain. Let's outline a clear exam protocol for diagnosing the problem.
Vitamin D Fails to Help Knee OA? The Proper Perspective
The March 8, 2016 issue of JAMA includes a study about vitamin D supplementation for osteoarthritis of the knee. This is a really weird study.
NCCAOM Launches New Membership Organization
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) recently launched a new national membership organization, the NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates.
Energy: For Life and For Death
Energy is a deep topic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi is understood to underlie all of existence, animated or not, and the qi of the living is studied with special attention.
News in Brief
A Moment of Silence for Dr. Stephen Press; New ACA President Elected; F4CP Offers New MemBership Benefit.
Building Relationships and Referral Networks with Allopathic Practitioners
Dr. Doug, an orthopedist of 20 years, had heard stories from patients who tried acupuncture. While he was able to address many of their complaints effectively, some appeared to gain additional benefit when their care included TCM.
Asking Patients the Right Questions
When was the last time you asked a patient a question? Maybe 30 seconds ago? But, are you asking the right questions to elicit valuable and useful information? As a healthcare provider, you've likely spent hundreds of hours learning to ask the right questions to gather critical health information from your patients.
The Value of Melatonin in Breast Cancer Prevention and Adjunctive Treatment
Although melatonin (MLT) is best known for its sleep-aid properties and as a natural remedy to prevent jet lag, extensive experimental studies suggest it possesses anticancer activity through several biological mechanisms.
Recording and Appropriate Billing of Timed Physical Medicine Services
There is a common misunderstanding about timed therapy services and although you do have some knowledge of timed service documentation, based on your comment on the 8-minute rule, your understanding is correct, but incomplete.
Constructing Our Reality: The Primary Channels and Perception, Part 1
My favorite topic of discussion within Chinese medicine is the acupuncture channel systems. First of all, each of us have them. They are part of our bodies; not something external to us. To learn about the acupuncture channels is to learn about ourselves.
June 14, 2004
Teaching Unethical Business Practices Must Stop
By Ed Denning, MEd, LMT
It is time to stop teaching unethical business practices to massage therapists. Those who teach the unethical business practices outlined below do so to capitalize on the greed of massage therapists who do not think about the consequences of their behavior.Those consequences are now beginning to exact a price, which all massage therapists will pay.
Unethical Teaching of Code Selection
One of the teaching practices I am talking about is the inclusion of highly questionable Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Codes. Many more codes than is appropriate are presented in literature and seminars. These folks carefully point out that the massage therapist is responsible for selecting the correct code (which means that the authors or seminar prenseters are not liable for what they teach), then list a large number of codes, most of which no massage therapist is qualified to use.
Those they teach are encouraged to interpret for themselves the meanings of the codes and whether they are qualified to use them. In most cases, the selection of a code is driven not by the meaning of the code and the massage therapists' qualifications, but rather by the fee that code pays.
The result of that kind of teaching is significantly higher fees and much greater income for the massage therapist, which is what drives the massage therapist to resort to questionable coding decisions. Did you know that an indentation of wording in the CPT coding manual carries with it an addition to the definition listed?
Did you know that a semicolon has a meaning, which is different than a comma when reading the codes? If you do not know those things, then you are incapable of using the American Medical Association's (AMA) CPT coding manual correctly. Stay out of it.
Certain insurances in Colorado are now restricting the number of CPT codes that a massage therapist may use to one code. They are also setting a specific maximum amount that can be claimed for that code. This is occurring because 95 different codes had been used by massage therapists making claims to their company. There are only three codes that the vast majority of massage therapists are able to use. That is not opinion, that is fact. The insurance companies are protecting themselves from unprincipled abuse on the part of the massage therapists. The massage therapists have abused those companies because of what they were taught.
Unethical Teaching of Fee Setting
Fee setting is a complicated and imprecise subject. One of the ways some teachers abuse this imprecision is to not include some very important information in their teaching. There are books that list every CPT code. They include information on usual and customary fees for service. The one I have organizes information in this way:
Except for Medicare/Medicaid, there is no set fee for 97124; each fee is for a unit of 15 minutes.
When you take into account the number of years of training, the overhead of the professional office, insurance to practice, and other miscellaneous costs of doing business, the physician has a right to charge a fee significantly higher than the massage therapist. And yet some who teach about fees would choose the $84 fee as though that ought to represent the usual and customary fee.
Realistically, a physician's usual and customary is higher than that of a massage therapists. Fifty percent of the physicians charge less than $40 for that service; therefore, a massage therapist's fee most certainly ought to be below $40.
Another small problem: If I tell you what the fee is for a service, then I have committed price fixing; that is i1llegal anywhere. We must each set our fees according to our own set of values and conditions. There is no legally correct fee. You could charge $150 per unit, and it would be legal to do so. So, why not choose the higher numbers?
Unethical Teaching of Business Practices
Consistency is the principle by which you can judge whether your business practices are within an ethical framework. Do you always charge the same fee for the same service? Please note: the amount charged is not the issue, it is the application that counts.
Which of the following should be charged a different fee than the others?
The answer, of course, is that they should all be charged the same fee. Can you make exceptions? Of course. I was a former teacher. Perhaps I wish to provide a special discount to teachers. I need only be up front regarding my prejudicial behavior toward teachers. My fee differential ought to be readily available for all to question.
What about insurances? An insurance company's client is an individual. Individuals all ought to be treated the same according to the example above. But there are additional expenses to billing insurance. Shouldn't we be able to charge a higher fee due to the higher expenses? The answer is "Yes".
However, there is no CPT Code for that expense by a massage therapist; therefore, it is not now possible to charge insurances for that work. Be patient. Such codes will be forthcoming.
There can be a large difference between legal and ethical. Helping to place that gap in perspective is the concept of "usual and customary." When trying to determine what is the usual and customary fee for a massage therapy service, you would want to know what a particular service would cost the average customer. Not the discounted price or special price, but the amount which the customer parts with before going out the door.
Earlier I asked a question: Why not choose the larger number? This had to do with the fee schedules that are published by the AMA.
The reason you don't charge the higher number is because it does not represent your "usual and customary" fee honestly and accurately. You choose a number that represents the reality of your behavior. No tricks with wording or fancy ways to sidestep an honest appraisal. If a cash customer would always pay $55 for a service then that is the "usual and customary" fee. Apply the "usual and customary" concept to the figures from the AMA and live with it.
Acceptable Ethical Models To Command Higher Fees
How can you earn a higher fee and avoid all of the previously mentioned problems? Actually for some it is quite easy.
There are many more ways to earn substantial incomes as a massage therapist. All of them require dedication, perseverance, education, good judgment, personal growth and hard work.
Ending Unethical Teaching
Ed Denning is a licensed massage therapist in Ohio. He is coordinator of the massage therapy program at Stark State College of Technology, and also serves on the Massage Therapy Advisory Committee of the Ohio State Medical Board.
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