The number one objective of a medical practice is to serve patients, and to do it well. We often talk about this on our blog - if you're interested check out one of these articles:
- 10 Habits of Highly Successful Medical Practices
- Word of Mouth: How to Get Patients Talking
- 9 Ways To Increase Patient Engagement
- How to Improve the Podiatry Waiting Room Experience
As businesses though, practices are also naturally concerned with getting paid for their services. And we, as billing companies, can alleviate our clients' fears by educating them on best practices.
Over the course of the next three articles, we'll address some of the key challenges concerning accounts receivable management by offering key educational points on utilizing effective billing processes to maximize revenue, and avoiding fraud in the practice.
Throughout this series of articles, we will address:
- Billing cycle, processes, and technology
- How quickly your practice is paid?
- How to accelerate collections?
- How to ensure a better cash flow?
- Steps to prevent employee theft.
Here at PracticeForces, we have seen these concepts improve the bottom line and efficiency of the practices we serve. For instance, we have recently achieved payment increases of 158% and A/R reduction of 60% for one of our clients - view case study here.
Let's start with some techniques to best manage accounts receivable
The A/R of medical practices are the due amounts from insurance payers and open patients' accounts. To ensure practices manage their A/R efficiently, at PracticeForces we first help them establish an effective billing process - if it's not in place already.
To aid in the development of such processes, we recommend to:
- Accept self-pay options, such as credit and debit cards.
- Collect all patient information during the setup appointment call.
- Obtain and verify patient insurance information at time of visit.
- Co-pays and deductibles must be collected when the patient checks in.
- Educate patients on collection processes (amount due, time) and what portion of the amount their insurance covers or does not.
- Work with patients to set up payment plans, and clarify that due amounts will be collected at time of service.
- Educate staff on effective collection techniques.
Ensuring proper documentation
Collection is also aided by correct physician documentation. When a patient comes in for a visit, practices need to ensure that physicians utilize appropriate diagnosis codes in patient records.
Since practice contracts with insurance payers include associated feeds per diagnostic code, accurate documentation is critical to obtaining payment from these payers, which in turn affects A/R balances.
To aid the process of documentation, see the following list of key points:
- Take time to review and understand individual payer contracts and negotiated amounts for diagnostic codes billed.
- Have physicians thoroughly document patient visits so accurate charges can be submitted.
- Review payer claims for errors prior to submission.
- Submit claims in a timely manner.
- Assign collection procedures to past-due accounts.
- Follow up on unpaid claims.
Health Savings Account (HSA)
Especially in today's economy, many patients either have no medical insurance or a high-deductible health plan. High-deductible plans may have provisions for a Health Savings Account (HSA) to cover the patient portion of the medical bill.
Practices need to establish processes to handle these different situations, for instance by:
- Accepting credit and debit cards.
- Offering discounts to self-pay patients.
These options will save the practice time, money, and lead to lower A/R. The below is also important:
- Practices must review their payer contracts to ensure potential charges are in-line with what charged to Medicare or commercial payers.
- An established policy on how discounts are handled is key.
- Finally, as HSAs can be complicated, practices should distinguish the operational differences between HSA plans.
Managing A/R effectively is hard work, but it's possible. First and foremost, try your best to collect patient due amounts in a timely manner. Many statistics show that the amount you collect is heavily impacted by the amount of time it takes to collect it.
For more information and additional resources, contact us through the form below or take a look at our range of services.