Like any type of business, specialty clinics rely on efficient billing processes to collect the money they need to keep running. This post takes a look at some easy but effective ways to make your specialty clinic medical billing procedures function better than ever.
Tip 1: Get Patients Up to Speed
Certain professionals build entire careers around understanding the medical billing process, so it shouldn’t be surprising that patients sometimes find the system hard to get a grip on. That is a problem, however, because confused, frustrated patients will likely be much less amenable to paying on time. That’s why Avery Hurt, writing for Medical Economics, recommends giving patients a helping hand when it comes to understanding the specialty clinic medical billing process. For instance, patients might not understand concepts such as deductibles and copays. Hurt suggests printing out a flyer that covers the basics of billing regardless of the insurance plan and directing patients to their insurance carrier’s customer service line for further explanation.
Tip 2: Provide and Encourage Paperless Billing
Paperless billing has multiple advantages, as highlighted by Randy Phelps at Healthcare Finance News. One is cost savings: Paperless billing can cut out 60 to 90 percent of postage and paper costs. Another is speed: Phelps reports that paperless billing reduces days sales outstanding—a measure of how long it takes to collect payment from accounts receivable—by 30 percent. Additionally, paperless billing greatly cuts down on paper waste, which is a help to the environment.
Beyond cost savings and environmental friendliness, another benefit of paperless billing is that online payment portals come with features that can set patients’ minds at ease and expedite the process of specialty clinic medical billing. For example, online payment systems have security features that protect the data of patients. Additionally, they make it possible to set up funds for payment ahead of time.
Tip 3: Make Advanced Payment Easy
Phelps also recommends making it simple for patients to pay in advance. One method is through the aforementioned pre-funding options, which make it easier for patients to handle medical expenses as they arise. It also reduces financial stress on patients by spreading the cost out over a longer period of time.
Tip 4: Repeatedly Verify Insurance and Contact Information
Another recommendation from Hurt is to verify each patient’s insurance information on phone calls and at every visit. Clinics should also verify patients’ contact information during this step as well. This can prevent your practice from falling out of touch with a patient in the event they change addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses. It can also head off embarrassing errors such as sending a bill to an incorrect address or calling the wrong phone number.
At the check-in stage, it is also critical for a clinic’s staff to verify that the patient’s insurance plan covers the requested services, as explained by Revcycle Intelligence editor Jacqueline LaPointe. Failure to do so can leave both parties in a jam, should an insurance carrier refuse to cover a service after it has been rendered.
Tip 5: Set Up Your Staff for Success
Hurt makes several recommendations relevant to setting up the staff of your facility for success. For instance, Hurt advises that staff members should not ask patients if they “want to pay their bill now.” In Hurt’s estimation, it is more effective to instead assume the patient will pay and give them multiple options when it comes to payment methods. Additionally, there should be an in-house billing expert in your clinic—that is, a person to whom patients can be directed regarding issues and inquiries. This critical position can make your billing process more efficient and keep your patients calm and informed.
Tip 6: Use Updated Claim Forms
Renee Dustman, writing for the American Academy of Professional Coders, recommends always using the most up-to-date versions of claim forms. Those forms are commonly CMS 1500, UB04, 837P, and 837I, with the latter two being electronic. Additionally, according to LaPointe, certain types of practices may use other types of forms, so make sure your staff is well versed in whichever forms they will be working with.
Tip 7: Stay Up to Date
Dustman also points out that change happens rapidly in the world of medical billing. For instance, industry shifts, government legislation, and insurance policy changes can all affect how specialty medical clinic billing functions. Many private insurance providers offer monthly updates, which you can sign up for on their respective websites. The same goes for state and federal carriers.
The advice in this post can be summed up in two broad ways: Make it easy for your patients to pay your clinic, and make sure your staff has the training needed to effectively collect those payments. If your clinic has those two bases covered, billing becomes much simpler.