Since family practices are facing a lot of factors that make it more difficult to get paid, it’s more important than ever to get proactive about billing procedures. Being proactive and prevent problems before they occur can help your family practice maximize revenue, ensuring you’re properly reimbursed so your practice can continue providing quality care to patients. Every year, medical providers in the United States leave more than $100 billion dollars of uncollected revenue on the table due to billing errors, coding mistakes, and failing to stay current on medical billing rules.
Here’s a closer look at the top 5 strategies you can use proactively to begin maximizing your family practice’s revenue.
1. Review your scheduling practices
You may need to fine-tune the way your appointments are scheduled. If appointments are booked in standard 15-minute increments, you might be spending more time waiting for patients than you should. Or if appointments are all booked at the top of the hour (i.e., wave scheduling), your patients might be spending more time waiting for you than they should.
A modified-wave template schedules two 15-minute appointments on the hour, one appointment 15 minutes later and another appointment 30 minutes after the hour. Typically there is no appointment at 45 minutes after the hour, which allows time for a 30-minute appointment, an extra work-in patient, or time to return phone calls or catch up on documentation. A modified-wave template also helps to ensure that you’re not behind schedule even before you begin. If you start seeing patients at 9 a.m. and one doesn’t arrive on time, chances are the other patient with a 9 a.m. appointment will.
You should also consider whether your scheduler is getting the right visit type – or the right patient – in the right appointment slot. For example, diabetes checks may not require 30 minutes, especially if you have systems in place to ensure that lab results are available in the chart at the time of the visit. And certain patients will invariably consume the time of two appointments; book them accordingly. You can optimize your scheduling procedures by enabling easy communication between your scheduler and your clinical staff, for example, by putting their desks close to one another.
2. Focus on being efficient
Improving efficiency is truly a game of inches. There are lots of ways to do it, and none are likely to result in dramatic gains, but if together they enable you to see two additional patients a day, the effort can amount to a tremendous increase in revenue. According to the research referenced earlier, high-earning physicians work an average of 56 hours a week, and low-earning physicians work 51 hours a week. But the high-earners provide 38 more visits per week than their low-earning counterparts (high-earners provide a mean number of 122 visits per week; low-earners provide 84). The high-earners aren’t just working harder; they’re working smarter.
Starting each morning with a 10-minute meeting of key clinical and office staff members can save you valuable time later. The purpose of the meeting is to look at the day’s schedule, anticipate information needs or special circumstances that may arise during the day and plan accordingly to prevent slowdowns. Check that lab results, reports from other physicians, discharge paperwork and so on are in the chart. Identify patient visits that might take more time than scheduled, and make adjustments. Talk with your scheduler about times when you might be able to see an extra patient.
3. Delegate work
Delegate work that doesn’t require a physician’s license. Don’t spend time on patient-care-related tasks that don’t require a medical degree. Try to delegate as many administrative tasks as you can while still maintaining a good understanding of your practice’s operations. Dictating notes while you’re still in the exam room with the patient can improve your efficiency. Your memory is fresh, and the details are clear. Dictating in the patient’s presence is also a good way of validating the patient’s concerns, cementing your treatment alliance with the patient and reiterating your instructions. This takes some getting used to, and it may not be appropriate in every case.
If you are delegating your work, you don’t have to leave your exam room frequently. You can be most productive when you don’t have to leave the exam room to obtain information or supplies that you need. By stocking exam rooms appropriately and implementing daily huddles as described earlier, you can avoid interruptions during patient visits. If 10 times a day you leave the exam room for two minutes to fetch a form or an instrument that you need, you’ve squandered the equivalent of an entire patient visit.
4. Keep multiple revenue streams
It’s important to realize the extent to which your scope of practice drives your revenue stream and to carefully weigh decisions that would narrow it. Whether it’s performing a certain office procedure, seeing nursing home patients, doing obstetrics or taking care of patients in the hospital, think of each service as a tributary to your practice’s revenue stream. Give up one of these services and you’re cutting off part of your revenue stream, one that can be difficult to reclaim, particularly once procedural skills or privileges have lapsed.
Try to do every procedure you can comfortably and confidently perform in your setting: skin procedures, joint aspirations and injections, trigger point injections, tendon and tendon sheath injections, simple- and moderate-complexity fracture care, treadmill stress tests and an array of hospital procedures. Obviously, this scope wouldn’t make sense in every practice. If you do procedures that your colleagues don’t, invite them to refer their patients to you.
5. Track performance and find areas where you can improve
Since the healthcare landscape continues to change, your family practice needs to change along with it to improve efficiency and maximize revenue. One of the best strategies you can use to keep revenue flowing is to look for ways you can improve your billing procedures. This includes staying informed about changes to medical billing rules and changes in billing and coding protocols, identifying any problem accounts, and tracking pending accounts receivable to see how your family practice’s revenue cycle is performing.
In some cases, one of the best things you can do to improve your practice’s billing and coding procedures to maximize revenue is to outsource your billing and coding. Billing and coding rules, standards, and procedures are constantly changing, and this can make it easy to miss small details that result in underpayments, denials, and rejections that cost your family practice both money and time.
Outsourcing to a company like Medical Billers and Coders (MBC) offers an effective way to regain control over billing and increase revenue. We offer dedicated specialists that are highly trained, we get claims submitted quickly, and this leaves your practice with the ability to spend more time focusing on your patients. If you’re interested in outsourcing your medical billing and coding to improve revenue for your practice, contact us today at 888-357-3226 to learn how we can help you.