Looking to improve your bottom line? Of course you are. Who isn't? The introduction of information technology into the healthcare field has resulted in...
1) Perform Billing and Coding Electronically
The introduction of information technology into the healthcare field has resulted in reduced costs associated with business-to-business communications, most notably in the “accounts payable” and “accounts receivable” departments, which are accustomed to labor- and paper-intensive processes that can be eliminated by using electronic systems. The potential to free up office space and allow the staff to focus more of their time on patient care is another reason why no office should manually perform these tasks. Plus, office expenses such as payroll, employee benefits, paid vacations, and sick time can all be significantly decreased by computerizing administrative processes.
2) Cross-Train Your Staff
In order to keep your practice running efficiently, you’ve got to make sure that the absence of one or two staff members does not cause a major interruption in productivity. It’s important for members of your staff to be able to multitask and be prepared to perform additional duties other than their primary tasks. This is beneficial in several ways: you always have the necessary skill-set in the office; staff members understand their importance to the team and the entire workflow process; they can see how their position and contributions affect others in the office; and you can reallocate resources to necessary areas of the practice as workload needs change.
3) Utilize Telephone Control/800 number
The first thing that should be done when it comes to telephone billing within your office is to identify what business plan is most suitable for your needs. There are so many companies and plans out there that chances are you can find a way to decrease costs in this area. Incremental billing should be examined; some companies will charge for a full minute on a call that may last only 10 seconds. However, many carriers off er six-second incremental billing, which can save up to 10% on your long-distance calling. Another thing to consider is setting up a toll-free 800 number for customer service or if you need to tie multiple locations together seamlessly. An 800 number is an effective way to route all calls from one source as opposed to providing several phone numbers to patients.
4) Use ABNs and Waivers
Advanced Benefi ciary Notifi cations (ABNs), which have been part of the Medicare program for many years, are intended to provide the beneficiary with sufficient information to make an informed consumer decision as to whether or not to proceed with a service knowing that payment may not be covered by Medicare. ABNs are an easy way to ensure that you are properly compensated for your services, and failing to adhere to them could ultimately result in the loss of revenue for your practice. If you fail to provide an ABN prior to rendering a service, you will be unable to bill the Medicare beneficiary. Make sure to take this precautionary step, and you will avoid unnecessary pitfalls.
5) Review EOBs
Keeping tabs on your explanation of benefits is extremely important to improving your practice’s billing and collection processes. Take the time to review them on a regular basis, looking for things like timeliness of payments, the accuracy of payments (do this by comparing contracted rates to amount reimbursed), and amounts paid in full, indicating that your practice charges are too low. Catching even small errors or discrepancies could end up saving you a bundle in the long run.
6) Take Advantage of Automatic Remittance Posting
Although having your remittance payments posted automatically is an additional cost you will have to incur, the benefits will outweigh this cost, as it will save your employees a great deal of time and will consequently increase staff productivity—no more paper handling, filing, copying, adjusting data entry errors, or additional processing costs. Staff time saved by automatically posting remittance payments can then be spent following up with payers, filing appeals, or whatever other tasks
require more attention.
7) Inform Patients of Financial Policies
It is important for any practice to communicate billing procedures to its patients. This includes time-of-service payments, authorizations, cancellation policies, and any other routine collection policies. Finalize your policies, print them all on a one-page document, and ask your patients to read and sign it. Taking these steps to inform your patients of what to expect in terms of compensation will help ensure there are no issues when it comes to payment.
8) Collect Co-payments and Coinsurance at Time of Service
Do not underestimate the value of this step. Collecting these fees at the time of service will save your practice the cost associated with billing the patient and the time it takes to send and collect the paperwork involved. Th e fact of the matter is that the likelihood of collecting fees from a patient is reduced the second the patient exits the office without paying. This is a simple step that should be acceptable for everyone; therefore, there is no reason not to follow this policy.
9) Process Patient Statements Regularly
Every practice receives calls pertaining to patients’ statements and number of payments that have been received; cut down on these phone calls by providing easy-to-read patient statements on a regular basis. This will not only reduce the time it takes to receive appropriate payment, but will also allow your staff to operate more efficiently by cutting down the time it takes to field so many phone calls.
10) Reduce Office Supply Costs
Dig up all those old invoices pertaining to your office supplies and try to highlight the office supplies that make up 75% of your total costs. Focus on the top 25%, as those are the items you will always need to have on hand. Once you’ve established this, contact three vendors, explain to them that you are shopping for an affordable way to purchase whatever items you need, and then get bids on them. Compare the prices you were given to online and mail-order companies, and see where you can get the best deal. If you do decide to go with an online or mail-order company, be sure to check for important details like minimum order requirements, freight charges, and return freight charges in the event supplies need to be returned. Although this task will require some due diligence on your part, it is a one-time procedure that can significantly reduce expenditures in the long term. Many thanks to PsychiatricTimes.com and Business Know-How