Apr 22 , 2014

3 Essential elements improve medical billing Collections

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Care comes first. That should be the mindset of anyone involved in the healthcare industry. However, the thing that comes right after, is cash. I know, people always feel awkward when money and healthcare are mentioned together. But when you think about it, it makes sense. No business can survive for long without income. Healthcare practices are no different. For them to be able to continue to provide care, they need to have the revenue necessary to afford equipment, salaries for care providers, pay for different kinds of insurances, etc. It isn’t helpful to practices that on top of the money being spent, they have a heightened risk of losing income due to the complexity and variations of different payers. Healthcare practices can save a lot of stress and also stop any potential loss in revenue by having a better method of collecting payments. What is that payment collection method? Well, actually, there are several ways a healthcare practice can maximize collections and minimize the amount of time and money lost to non-payment or delayed payments. Collecting what’s owed starts before the patient even walks out the door.

Method #1: COLLECT THE PAYMENT FROM THE PATIENT IMMEDIATELY

For smaller bills(say, under $200), asking for payments to be made immediately is not unreasonable. Those are charges can be billed to credit cards without it making a significant difference for (most of ) the patient(s). With these smaller amounts, when you delay collecting the copay or full payment immediately, as with larger bills, the chances of collection drops. Even if you do manage to collect the payment later, you end up wasting time and resources by sending bills to the patient and then performing follow-up processes such as calls, emails, etc. Your most opportune chance of getting the payment is before the patient leaves the office.

Method #2: USE PRACTICE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE INSTEAD OF FILING CLAIMS BY HAND

Sometimes, the best way to increase revenue, is by just decreasing the amount of money spent. When you file a paper claim, the form must be filled out, checked for errors and then sent to the payer. Someone must do this. Can’t be a care provider; it would be too much to ask them to provide care all day and then fill out forms. So, someone needs to be hired to do these tasks, which is raising the overhead costs. 

Once these claims are sent out, the practice must then wait to see if they get paid. If the payer denies the claim, you have to start this process all over from the beginning.

A Practice management software would make it faster and easier to file paperwork and claims. The software will automatically check for common errors and allows you to file and check the status of the claim electronically. This minimizes the wait, reduces waste and eliminates delivery costs. It also allows for the reduction of overhead costs, thereby increasing your revenue. Practice management software can also interface with your accounting software, thus making it easier to keep track of your revenue growth and help you analyze your ROI.

Method #3: GET OTHERS TO DO MEDICAL BILLING FOR YOU

Doing your own billing is frustrating, as it wastes time and money you could be using to see more patients and growing your practice, or used for some well deserved R&R. This is why most practitioners outsource medical billing.

If you decide to hire billing staff(the median expected salary for a medical billing clerk is between 30 and 40K), it would lead to an increased overhead expense, as mentioned above in #2. If you hire inexperienced clerks, to reduce this expense, then you must factor in the extra time that will be needed and taken to complete the task, as well as the costs of training and error checking. Then after doing all this, you have to hope they will stick around long enough to make it all worthwhile. Most practices staff at least two trained billing clerks, so they have the necessary backup when one clerk is out or one of the positions are open. So if a practice was to follow this method, then that would mean an extra expenditure of 60-80K a year. 

Outsourcing your billing can save time and personnel costs by assigning most claims-related and collections tasks to an expert medical billing company. If you decide to take this route, make sure you go with a company that is experienced with billing and collections for medical practices. Get recommendations from practitioners in your field and follow up on any references the medical billing company provides. The last thing you want is to assign your billing duties to a company that wastes time with resubmissions, wastes money by collecting underpayments from the payer, or does not pay your practice in a timely manner.

[Read More: 3 Criteria For selecting a Billing Provider]

But there’s no need to worry about ending up in a situation like that, as long as you play it smart and follow these steps: try to collect the copay or payment immediately; use a good practice management software and select the right billing process for you; By doing all of this, your practice can minimize the amount of time and money lost, alleviate stress and anxiety, as well as help you keep a healthy flow of income, all while reducing expenditure, leading to your revenue going up. And like we established at the start, the higher your revenue, the more care you can provide.  

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blueEHR offers a comprehensive 24X7 billing solution of proven experience combined with our advanced technology platform that will reduce your expenses, increase your collections and improve your cash flow.