January 9, 2019
There are dozens of ways to increase efficiency in the billing office. Yet we still visit many practices where modern tools and technology features are neither implemented nor used. Without these must-have efficiencies, it’s much harder for your team to manage their time, manage denials, appeal rejected claims, collect from patients, and optimize revenue cycle efficiency.
Assess your billing office against the following list of must-have’s, and make it a 2019 goal to have all of these productivity enhancers in place by the end of the year.
1. Purchase two monitors for each billing office team member. For less than $100 per workstation you can increase each person’s productivity tenfold.
2. Scan all documents. Efficient billing offices are paperless offices. Purchase several scanners to make it convenient for everyone to scan EOBs, payor letters, documents, etc.
3. Provide each billing staff a headset. A headset is essential for multitasking during long calls and hold times with payors. Plus, it reduces the potential of workplace injuries that can occur when staff type and hold the phone in their neck at the same time.
4. Install a fax server. It enables the team to fax directly from the practice management system (PMS) or electronic health record (EHR). Same with receiving faxes – they come directly into the computer system.
5. Direct staff to use Availity, Navinet, and payor websites. These sites provide tools such as claim estimators and status, batch eligibility and more. Each employee should have his or her own unique ID and password, for all payor sites. No sharing.
6. Pre-certify images, tests, and procedures online. Most major payors now offer this. Instruct staff to stop calling and start pre-certifying online as often as possible.
7. Check the status of unpaid claims online. Modern practices manage most of their claims follow up this way, and calling on only a few claims per month.
8. Implement Electronic Remittance Advice (ERA) for all payors who offer it. Manual payment posting is so five years ago. Automate as much of it as possible.
9. Implement Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) from all payors who offer it. Many payors – not just Medicare – do. Take advantage of as many as you can.
10. File EOBs in a batch, by posting date. If you’ve scanned all paper documents, this will be easy. And it makes finding and retrieving data for follow up or collection purposes faster than searching through a paper filing system. Scan the EOBs in a batch, name them by posting date, and store them in a public folder on the server. If you use software such as Adobe Pro / Document Cloud, staff can even search PDF and other documents by keyword.
11. Use automated work queues in the PMS. We scratch our heads about why so many practices don’t use this handy PMS feature. Setting up work queues for each staff person guides their account follow-up, providing reminders and lists of accounts based on date the last account was worked. No more “wondering” what you last did, or leafing through paper A/R reports that are highlighted in yellow or pink. The system does the work and queues up the accounts that require action.
12. Use the PMS collections module to manage patient A/R follow up. Again, we find this is underutilized. Arrange for training and implement this time-saver, which helps staff prioritize follow up tasks.
13. Outsource statement processing. Modern practices don’t pay skilled staff to print and stuff statements. Outsource statement processing and let them focus on getting claims paid. Your team simply uploads the statement batch and the vendor does the rest.
14. Offer automated recurring payments by credit card or checking account. Internally managed payment plans are rarely adhered to. Let technology replace manual calls and card processing. After the patient agrees to a monthly payment amount, staff set-up recurring charges and the payment system charges the patient’s card or account automatically, every month.
15. Program payment schedules and reimbursement rules into the PMS and/or clearinghouse. Your team will quickly know when payments are incorrect, and be alerted to coding issues such as CCI and payor edits automatically.
16. Let patients pay their bill online. Online payment software has been commonly used for decades, but the majority of practices still don’t offer online payment on their web sites. Call your vendor and get this one implemented sooner rather than later.