September 12, 2014
Financial challenges are increasing for medical practices in the US. Growth of high-deductible health plans and economic downturn has made patient payment collection a daunting task. With patients facing high out-of-pocket costs, cash flow of practices across the country is getting affected. According to a survey by MGMA, bad debt of multi-specialty practices went up by 14% between 2008 and 2012.
It has become important for physicians to refine or adjust their billing strategies. They also need to collect patient payment upfront in order to ensure that cash flow doesn’t get disrupted.
Setting Clear Financial Policies
It is extremely important to set financial policies that are clearly understood by everyone at the physician’s practice. For instance, a patient’s insurance eligibility needs to be checked before every appointment. Practices should keep a tab on patients and try to collect as many co-pays as possible. All financial policies should be communicated in advance and in a clear manner so that patients are not caught off guard.
In order to avoid cash flow disruptions practices should also refuse treatment to patients who can’t pay for a routine visit. This policy should be clearly documented and the staff needs to be well-trained in applying this policy to all such patients.
Financial health of practices can also be improved by educating patients about insurance policies. This will help them avoid surprise charges that they are unable to pay at times.
EHRs also help in improving practice efficiencies and cost savings. Practices with an EHR system run their functions more efficiently. It helps reduce charge lag days, vendor / insurance denials and also the time and resources required for manual charge entry, resulting in accurate billing.
Easy Payment Options
By offering easy payment options, physicians can strengthen the financial health of their practice. Patients should be given the option to pay through different methods such as credit cards, checks, cash or debit card. This enhances the patient payment collection. Some practices offer discounts to patients with big bills. They charge just 70 cents on a dollar if the patient agrees to pay in full by the month end. The idea is to make it easy for the patients to pay.
Coding and Claims Submission
Improving the coding and claims submission procedure is extremely vital in strengthening the financial health of a practice. Practices need to hire trained coders and billers who are experts at error-free coding and timely claims submission. Since monetary constraints make it difficult for many providers to hire and retain experienced coders, they prefer outsourcing billing needs to a third party.
Many practices across the US outsource their billing and coding requirements to companies like MedicalBillersandCoders.com. MBC has an association of certified and experienced coders and billers that serves 42 medical specialties across all the 50 states. The team is well-trained in handling all the complexities of medical billing, and helping practices sail through reimbursement challenges. Providers can either take the entire suite of their medical billing services from MBC or customize the services as per their needs.
Revenue Cycle Management