The medical billing process’s bureaucracy and behind-the-scenes conspiracies mean that the revenue cycle is much more complicated than in the days before the industry started introducing software automation tools to the mix.
The medical billing process today is also so complex that it is typical for bills to take not only days, but months to finalize when patients have a complicated case or a complicated case.
The situation needs constant review, even for the most routine of treatments, with the complexities that come from coordinating internal practice workflow with all the criteria imposed by your claims processing vendors and external clearing houses.
You should know that there are many solutions available for your company to accelerate the process of coding and billing, leading to quicker submission times and a boost to your first-pass approval statistics.
Here are 8 ways to optimize and improve the medical claims billing process for your organization starting today.
1. Clarify the Collections Process Upfront
Open, transparent contact with patients is necessary for more successful billing efforts for medical claims. Ensure that you speak to prospective patients about their duty to pay for the services rendered. Prior to their first appointment, you can include the specifics in the paperwork patients fill out.
It would also be beneficial to have a sign placed in the reception area to explain the payment system, with patients not being able to say they were unaware of your policy. Obtain patient billing details that day to facilitate prompt collections, including having a copy of their insurance card and a photo ID for your files..
2. Maintain and Update Patient Files
How do you hope to treat claims billing with consistency if you don’t have clear data on any of your patients? You will need to advise workers at each visit to check patient demographics as well as insurance records. Why is this needed? For one thing, your patient might have changed employment and now have a different insurance carrier.
The essence of insurance could have changed too with a patient potentially upgrading to the most costly plan with lower deductibles, or to a less expensive plan that now needs even more out of pocket costs. Instead of your patients being surprised by an unexpectedly higher bill, make a point of explaining the process as you update their information.
Make sure that such mundane data like the policy number and subscriber information are double-checked (including the billing address for the insurance company). It’s important that these details match the records of third-party payers.
3. Automate Basic Billing Functions
It is a drain on your business to compel staff members to perform activities that are more easily done by automated systems. It drives down morale and frustrates employees who could otherwise be free to focus on more patient-centric, personalized service. Identify billing tasks that are regular and mind-numbingly repetitive. Tasks include filing individual claims, creating payment alerts and then issuing them, and helping to pick the correct medical billing codes.
4. Train for Success
Any insurance firm dealt with by your organization would have its own specific set of rules. On one hand, an insurance provider can require that you include chart notes to create a primary care relationship with claims for new patients. On the other side, you can find insurers demanding graph notes only to help follow-up care and non-standard protocols of treatment.
Update and extend the training programmes for employees to now include elements that enable billing departments to easily identify the necessary filing specifications and access patient files. This helps ensure that each carrier has the appropriate details to speed up the processing of claims as soon as you submit them.
5. Tracking Denials
It is clear that having a system of checks and balances in place can boost first-pass rates, whether a practice depends on an external billing and coding provider or opts to manage claims internally.
Take the mindset that any rejection is simply a learning opportunity to strengthen the process instead of berating workers for errors.
Common reasons for denials include:
- Physicians are not credentialed properly
- You lack appropriate support documentation
- Your team uses codes for utilities or services not provided by carriers.
You can see simple steps your practice can take to improve productivity when you monitor denial codes. Sending chart notes to the billing department along with regular billing codes, for example, could save considerable time and improve accuracy. Similarly, if you notice claims for services considered to be “non-covered” are regularly returned, it may mean it’s time to check the coverage verification process as well as the coding protocols.
6. Outsource Your Most Problematic Collections
You and your fellow stakeholders may be hesitant to accept outsourcing work. But keeping an open mind is wise, especially when the quality of your revenue cycle is at stake. Working with a third-party revenue cycle management services firm frees up the workers, leaving experts with the more demanding collections.
7. Enhance Quality Control
For the financial state of your practice, eliminating claim errors is critical, to be sure. However, once a claim is approved, the billing and collecting process does not stop. Medical providers are helping to keep a close watch on the cash flow by using generally accepted accounting practices to post and record payments.
By making a deposit log for each receipt, to be submitted to the billing team, you can increase account balance accuracy. All details required to ensure proper posting needs to be included in the log, as well as to make it simple for a reviewer to confirm accurate payment amounts posted to the correct accounts.
A log should include these basic details:
- Patient name
- Account number
- Check/Cash Receipt number
- Amount due
- Date of service or referral reference number
8. Follow Up on Delinquent Claims
How much money is waiting to be posted to your practice? Answering this query will show you the percentage of pending service of overdue claims. To assess account ageing, at least one dedicated staff member should be assigned to decide which claims are not being paid in a timely manner.
You may detect communication problems with insurance carriers or patients after thoroughly reviewing aged accounts receivable. Are the delinquencies due to irregularities in billing? Are your comments simple to comprehend for patients? Is the billing and coding vendor working expeditiously on your claims?
High levels of delinquency are a symptom of a larger issue. If you regularly review delinquent accounts with an eye to enhancing results, you can fix these issues early on when they are easier to solve. Its important to implement and enforce processes and trends that help your team file claims faster and more effectively for revenue collection. There may be some communication difficulties between you and other stakeholders, so a conference on the subject may be in order.
Ultimately, working with a professional service provider like Viaante Business Solutions will help you to enhance the processes and more effectively collect reimbursements, thus enhancing cash flow.
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