For many physical therapists, billing can be a necessary pain in the neck. It’s complicated and riddled with delays and, in some cases, a cause of under compensation. But there’s simply no way around it- there’s no other way you can get paid for your services. There are, however, steps you can take to make your billing process more efficient and less painful. Here are six of them:
1. Set goals for your practice.
When you want to improve the general status, first you have to set specific, achievable goals. That way achieving the bigger picture gets easier and you are able to gauge your progress better. In the case of improving your billing process, your goals can be something like lowering the average number of days it takes to process claims, completely eliminating the use of erroneous treatment codes by the end of the year, or making sure that you send new claims to the appropriate carriers in less than three days. Whatever goals you set, make sure that:
• They are relevant to what you ultimately want to achieve with your billing process.
• They are achievable within a given timeframe.
• They are communicated clearly to your staff so they know their roles in making this happen.
2. Keep yourself and your staff well trained and informed.
The medical billing industry is constantly changing. It is important that you keep up with these changes be it in codes, regulations, or Local Coverage Determinations to avoid claim denials and delays. This applies not only to you, but especially to your staff who will be handling check-in and insurance verification. Staff needs to be careful and thorough when it comes to insurance verification as this determines:
• Whether or not the patient has valid insurance coverage.
• Whether or not this coverage applies to the services you offer.
• The amount of visits covered and at what rate.
Your staff needs to be made aware of the significance of their role and how they should go about it. They should clarify insurance details even if it’s with a patient that has been there before. They should also be able to answer patient questions and clarify what is expected of the patient in an easily understandable manner to avoid billing and collection problems later.
3. Choose efficiency.
In this day and age, it would be highly impractical to still use paper claims when you can go electronic. If you can, send claims electronically as these are a lot quicker and less prone to errors, not to mention more earth-friendly since there’s no paper involved. Make sure you submit claims as close to the actual date of the service as possible, that way reimbursements can come sooner. Also, track how long it takes for payments to get to you. In most cases, it only takes about 2 weeks. If it’s taking longer than 6 weeks, you might need to automate some processes or be more aggressive at collecting copays.
Now, that last one can be a bit difficult for some physical therapists who, in some cases, just opt to waive copays. But this would be going in the wrong direction. Remember that waiving a copay is considered fraudulent except under certain circumstances such as financial hardship. Doing so also significantly decreases your revenue and devalues your service. You need to collect copays and as much as possible; collect them up front as the chances of collecting diminish as soon as a patient leaves the clinic. This is another area on which you need to train your staff; Make sure your staff is well-trained on how to collect payments up front politely, yet efficiently.
4. Keep your patients well informed of your pricing.
One of the reasons that collections become difficult is that patients are often blindsided by the costs and realize too late that they have not prepared enough money to pay off the expense. You can remedy this by clearly specifying to patients beforehand how much each treatment costs, and how much they will have to pay out of pocket if the procedure is not covered. That way, they can prepare the necessary payment ahead and collection becomes easier.
5. Do claims right.
Doing claims right means doing them right the first time, every time. This may not be fun, but it certainly pays off. Doing them right means you don’t waste time and resources doing them a second or third time. So how do you do them right? By making sure that all the information is complete and correct, and that you’re using the right codes.
6. Track your progress.
Since you’ve set your goals, it is important to track how well you are able to achieve them. Collect and compare data like collections, accounts receivable, reimbursements and patient volume from month to month and later, year to year. If progress seems slow, then something may not be right and you may need to review your goals or take certain steps to ensure you are able to achieve them.
Your billing process is key to achieving a healthy cash flow so, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to improve it. If you need further assistance in this matter, it’s best to consult with experts like those of Park Medical Billing.
Park Medical Billing offers a slew of services that can help physical therapists improve billing processes, keep better track of statements and balances, and ensure that they are able to achieve faster turnarounds and increased revenue. For more information, give us a call today at 1-201-585-7306.