Pursue These Strategies for Getting Outstanding Balances Paid Faster
Your organization’s practitioners know the challenges of caring for an aging patient population.
But as a billing administrator, you may feel challenged by another aging population—the outstanding balances piling up in accounts receivable (A/R).
When insurance claims and patient bills go unpaid for too long, your organization loses money. Treating patients, buying supplies, paying wages and salaries (including yours), keeping the lights on and the doors open . . . aging accounts receivable pose serious challenges if ignored.
Fortunately, a mix of traditional and innovative healthcare business solutions, including our own MDCodePro medical coding app, can help you “turn back the clock” on aging A/R and keep your revenue healthy and strong.
Faster Medical Billing Solutions Urgently Needed
Fighting the effects of aging healthcare accounts receivable should be one of your top priorities. The longer it takes you to collect an unpaid balance, the less likely it is you ever will.
The Fox Group healthcare consulting firm says the benchmark for a high-performing medical billing department is 30 days or fewer. Average departments take 40-50 days from sending a claim to collect it. Below average departments take 60 days or more.
Which of those buckets does your organization’s billing department fall into?
If it’s not where you need it to be, don’t give up hope. With innovative healthcare business practices and hard work, organizations can turn things around. One practice in Lacey, Washington, for example, got its A/R older than 90 days down from 40-50% to 10% in a year, as Physicians Practice reported.
But you don’t want to wait for your aging A/R problem to become so dire before taking action. After all, by the time A/R hit 90 days, they could be worth as little as 20% of what they first were.
Start Planning Your Improved Medical Billing Processes
Here are five questions to help you take stock of your current A/R and start thinking about how to bring in more revenue more quickly:
- Are you routinely reviewing your A/R aging report?
Yes, as a busy billing administrator, you’re buried under physical and digital piles of paperwork each day. It’s easy, and understandable, to set some spreadsheets aside for later in favor of reports you think are more pressing. But your organization’s A/R aging report always warrants your personal attention.Because it classifies the amounts you’re owed into standard “buckets”—overdue by 0-30 days, 31-60 days, 61-90 days, and so on—the report shows at a glance how your billing department is doing, and where to focus collection efforts to make the most difference in the quickest time.
- Is your organization’s billing focused on the patient’s experience?
More Americans are using high-deductible insurance plans, so patients’ out-of-pocket responsibility now makes up 18% of healthcare provider revenue, according to athenaInsight. Don’t resign yourself to recovering a mere fraction of those balances.Train front desk staff to diligently verify patients’ insurance status and coverage, and to talk with patients about financial obligations. Send patients easy-to-read bills—people are naturally reluctant to pay confusing ones—and work with them to establish affordable payment plans. Surveys show patients are willing to switch providers in order to find payment plans they can manage, so why shouldn’t they switch to you?
- Have you automated your claims management as much as possible?
Although providers use a lot of advanced technology to care for patients, they don’t always use high-tech healthcare billing solutions to get paid faster. For example, 52% of providers in one survey didn’t automate patient payment plans. The Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare found “adoption levels of fully electronic transactions actually declined for claim payment and prior authorization” in 2017.Managing patient bills and payer claims manually makes you less efficient and less profitable. Automation can help you manage claims more quickly, with more accuracy and less potential for time-wasting human error like missing information or missed deadlines.
- What are you doing to bring down your denial rate?
Denied and rejected claims mean delayed or forfeited revenue. Outstanding balances keep aging while claims get reworked, and reworking and resubmitting claims isn’t free: Each one costs $25 on average, which adds up quickly.Ensuring timely filings, complete and accurate information like patient identification and eligibility, and proper navigation of tricky issues like bundled services and CMS billing modifiers can keep your denial rate low and your cash flow steady. Every 15 denials you prevent each month get unpaid balances paid faster and save $4,500 in rework costs annually, according to AHIMA trainer Richelle Marting in FPM.
- How are you training your clinicians in better documentation and coding?
Inaccurate medical coding is a key culprit behind organizations’ reduced and missed revenue. If physicians and other practitioners aren’t submitting the optimal codes for the work they do—the codes that bring the most amount of money warranted by their patients’ risk and the complexity of their own medical decision-making—they’re sacrificing legitimate revenue for no reason. But when practitioners receive training in documenting and coding their visits thoroughly and in full compliance with regulations, they’ll be able to act as a front line against aging A/R. Claims will be cleaner, which means they’ll be paid faster.
Make the Connection Between Coding and A/R Work for Your Bottom Line
The MDCodePro app can’t review your A/R aging report for you, or counsel your patients about finances. It’s not an automated claims management system.
But it can indirectly help you lower your denial rate by directly equipping your practitioners with practical knowledge about and powerful tools for optimal medical coding. That makes MDCodePro one of the most innovative business solutions your healthcare organization can use to turn unpaid A/R into more robust revenue.
Once your physicians and other clinicians watch the app’s short series of video lectures and start using the documentation approach they learn—a methodology validated in audit after audit—they’ll be able to code visits comprehensively and cleanly. Their notes and charts will support any visit’s optimal CPT® code. And they’ll have no problem confirming or finding those codes with the app’s easy-to-use, step-by-step code generator.
Stronger documentation means better coding in your claims, which goes a long way toward turning that aging population of A/R balances into the revenue your practice needs and deserves.
Ready to find out more? Then click here to arrange a free demonstration and a 30-day free trial.