Avoid Billing Errors and
Increase Practice Profits
As a healthcare provider, your first priority is to provide outstanding patient care. That is the main reason you went into the medical field – to help others feel better. But, underlying that altruistic goal is the business side of your personality. With your education and experience, you are certainly entitled to be paid fairly for the services you provide. You also have to think about the costs involved in running a medical practice – the building, staff, insurance, and so much more – which means you have to stay on top of your medical billing procedures.
The medical billing department is the key to the continued profitability of any medical practice. You can continue to receive your salary, pay your office staff, and keep the practice running without worrying about money on a continuous basis.
The truth, however, is that medical billing is fraught with difficulty. From miscommunication and sloppy procedures to exasperating guidelines from each payer, billing errors can really add up. A bill that is rejected due to an error requires twice the processing time for the same dollar result to the practice. Additional time can be lost on the telephone contacting the patient or the payer to settle the matter, often extending a rather routine claim time to a months-long struggle. Meanwhile, the current work load piles up and gets delayed as the billing department deals with the issue again.
The negatives for the industry and the practice are obvious, but that doesn’t even take into consideration the impact on the individual patient’s health and welfare. Billing errors lead to delayed payments from the insurance companies, denied claims, and increased stress at the very time a patient needs to be stress-free. It is hard for the medical team to provide the highest degree of care when a patient is upset due to a problem with his/her bill. If errors are consistent or costly, they may even lead to patients leaving the practice.
Tips to Avoid Billing Errors
Instead of dealing with the negatives, a far more positive approach is to be proactive in avoiding billing errors. Here are some tips which can help to reduce or even eliminate billing errors:
Institute a careful list of protocols regarding your billing procedures, and then provide on-going training to billing team members to keep them updated as changes take place.
Let your billing team concentrate solely on the job at hand. Don’t distract them with other responsibilities unrelated to their primary job function.
Keep Up on Codes
Improve communications between providers and billing staff to ensure a clear understanding of the patient visit. Have a process whereby cancelled or rescheduled appointments are clearly notated so they don’t get billed twice.
Explain to patients the importance of providing accurate information and up-to-date insurance policies. Clearly communicate when there has been a billing error, and outline the steps that have been taken.
Have clearly delineated timeframes for submitting claims, addressing errors, and following-up on outstanding claims.
Perhaps the easiest way to avoid all of the potential negatives involved with billing errors is to partner with a reputable company that has experience dealing with all the major insurance carriers and can automate the process so you won’t have to worry about it yourself.