Medical practices need to be very careful about their billing. A weak billing department does not only impact revenues but also leads to dissatisfied patients, affecting your practice reputation. Thus, improving the business end of your practice should be a top priority.
We at CureMD realize that doctors are not accountants. Thus, this article has no billing jargon or complicated algorithms for improving revenue cycle management. Just remember:
Not to concentrate all your energies in collecting from insurances. Focus on maximizing patient collections as well.
A recent study by MGMA indicates that 30-32% of a small practice’s revenue comes through patient collections. Also with more professional organizations purchasing high deductible and lower premium insurance plans, the burden to pay is shifting towards the patient.
Unfortunately, collecting from patients is difficult and thus, most of it remains unpaid. Experts believe a practice might be losing a significant amount of money by either writing off or simply not following up on patient collections.
These easy tips will go a long way in helping you collect from patients. Try them and share your feedback with us.
1. Collect maximum at the time of service
Studies indicate that practices can collect maximum from patients at the time of service. As time passes the probability of successfully collecting patient balances decreases.
Practices are able to collect from:
- 90% of patients at check in
- 70% of patients at check out
- 40% of patients after they have left the practice
- Collect co-pays at the time of check-in rather than checkout.
- Verify patient insurance eligibility 24 hours before the scheduled appointment to ascertain that the patient is still covered and also to receive information about deductibles. If a patient has a remaining deductible balance, encourage them to pay you themselves rather than sending claims to the payer.
- Use a claim estimator to estimate the amount that will be owed to you and discuss with your patient the collection cycle before performing a surgery or a medical procedure. Every payer has a claim estimator on their website.
Collecting upfront will not only increase the amount of collections but also cut down the cost of reaching out to the patient after they leave the front desk i.e. mailing billing statements, making calls etc.
Besides, it also helps to save time and labor, and allows practices to spend more time on patient care.
2. Install a credit card payment system
Billing on credit card will be beneficial in the long run, as you can save credit card details and automatically bill the patient once the insurance company processes the claims.
Moreover, most people nowadays use credit cards for payments as they avoid carrying cash or do not want to go through the hassle of paying through checks. Therefore, billing through credit card will also be a customer friendly addition to your practice.
3. Report “professional debtors” to the payer
You know those patients, the ones who are considered “professional debtors,” the ones that will never pay? They will pay a minimum amount, every three months, to stay out of collections. They call your staff and remind them that they are “long term patients,” and ask, “How could you send me to collections?”
You send such patients three statements, and still receive no payment. You might even experience a phone call where they yell at your front-office staff or the billing department.
Your next course of action should be to call the specific insurance company and report the patient. Yes, this is your right and business responsibility. Each insurance company has their own process; you just have to ask.
The insurance company will ask you to send them an appeal letter stating the patient details and your efforts to reach out to them. Once verifying the appeal, the insurance company sends out a letter to the patient, instructing them to pay the bill. If the patient still does not pay, the insurance company will pay you the money and then adjust the amount on the patient’s deductible balance.
4. Improve customer support at the billing side
Front desk is the first point of interaction between a patient and the practice. Therefore, it is necessary that the front desk and billing staff is able to provide excellent customer service to the patients. The billing staff should be aware of the insurance details of patients when they come for their visit. This way they can avoid delays and collect at time of service. The staff should understand and resolve issues related to patient registration and creating the right charge so that when the information reaches the billing staff, there is no error that may result in denial of claims.
The job of the front desk staff is to take down correct patient information including demographic and insurance card details. If the front desk is not trained enough, then the billing staff should step in and take correct information and mention the correct code before making the claims. Such a practice would avoid claim rejection and delays in money transfer due to incorrect information.
To avoid such issues, doctors should hire people whose expertise lie in medical billing and are familiar with medical terminologies or hire professionals with can-do attitude and train them in medical services.
Adopt EHR system to make billing efficient
One of the benefits of adopting Electronic Health Record system is that it streamlines a practice’s billing operations. Once the staff is trained in an EHR system, they are able to cut down mistakes while taking down patient information that will help to create accurate claims, which means the insurance money will be billed on time.
In order to avoid the hassle of different software for managing billing and clinical records, practices can opt for an integrated solution offered by CureMD that contains EHR and Practice Management in one package.
Save time and money by outsourcing billing
Physicians neither have time nor are they trained in management skills to look after their billing. They can outsource medical billing to vendors that helps practices obtain maximum insurance money and review their billing processes continuously to stay on top.
CureMD offers billing services with free EHR and Practice Management system. We charge as low as 4% on annual collection and take care of all your billing requirements. All you have to do is enter accurate information on the EHR and send it to our billing consultants who will manage your entire billing cycle for you.