Almost every industry article written today about revenue cycle focuses on how to streamline and improve the process. Although there are a lot of ways to streamline a practice’s revenue cycle, in my practice experience, I found that consistently implementing three key activities can help enhance staff workflow, reduce claim denials, and ultimately improve a practice’s bottom line.
The first of these activities is verifying insurance. While this may seem like a self-evident step, many practices neglect to perform this critical task—and for understandable reasons. Many practices simply don’t have the staff resources for what too often is still a manual chore. If they do perform it, practices often wait until the patient is standing at the front desk.
Practices should be collecting patient demographics and insurance information over the phone prior to the appointment date. Then, to further streamline verification, practices should automate the process. This allows front office staff to batch verifications, get the relevant information, and focus more closely on those patients who are flagged by the system.
By contacting the patient early, you can verify insurance ahead of time and uncover any problems before the patient walks through the door. This process not only smoothes the registration process, but also prevents claim denials on the back end. (Plus, patients don’t have the anxiety associated with finding out after the fact that a service isn’t covered.)
The second critical activity is posting charges on the same day as the patient visit. The sooner you post charges, the sooner your practice gets paid. Ensuring timely charge posting means working with physicians and coders to educate them on the importance of being prompt—as well as how to design an efficient charge posting process.
Finally, practices should bill every day. Again, this may seem like an obvious task, but there are still many practices that only bill once or twice a week. With the advent of electronic billing, there is no excuse for delayed billing. Payers such as Medicare regularly turn payments around quickly; the faster you submit bills, the faster you get paid.
Bottom line—you should be billing every day your practice sees patients, posting charges immediately, and verifying eligibility upfront. These three things will reduce days in A/R and ensure a more steady cash flow for your practice.
These are just three steps to help your bottom line. What other tactics has your practice employed to improve your revenue cycle?