Cash Flow - Part 1

Your patients love you. Your staff is the best in town. Your practice is busy and growing. So why do you still have cash flow issues?

Establishing an effective accounting system and billing cycle is the key to keeping money flowing into your practice. It translates into retaining good employees, expanding your practice and keeping patients happy.

Cash Flow

5 Ways To Ensure You Get All Of It All The Time

In my years of running a successful ophthalmic billing company, I’ve found a few simple tips that are often overlooked, but can have a big impact on your practice’s bottom line:

Tip 1: Develop, update and follow your billing procedures handbook.  

If your billing associate called in sick tomorrow, could anyone in your office, including you, easily access a procedures handbook that outlines step-by-step your billing process?

Your billing procedures handbook should be an accurate, up-to-date guide to your practice’s billing system. Ask yourself, “How much crucial knowledge about my practice is currently held only in someone’s head?” If you don’t have your processes written down, regularly updated and followed, I can guarantee that you will lose track of your cash flow, often within days.

Tip 2: Cross-check open claims against scheduled appointments.

Your billing team must make sure an exam has been documented and a claim created for each patient on the schedule. Reviewing the schedule of the previous day should be the first task each morning. Don’t let a “no show” become a “never show.” All the “no shows” should be contacted for rescheduling their appointments.

Tip 3: Solve non-pay and rejected claims the day they come in.

Every unpaid claim runs the risk of never getting paid. Each lost payment benefits the insurance company and drags your practice in the red. When you build your billing procedure manual, the second item on the daily work flow should be addressing and resolving unpaid claims.

Tip 4: Inform patients of benefits and payables before their visit dates.

This is both a good financial and efficient business practice. Don’t just rely on an automated recorded reminder. Have a procedure to inform patients of payment, referral and authorization expectations before their service date.

Build this into the practice culture. None of us like surprise billing, especially now with increasing deductible and decreasing coverage. Administrative errors are the easiest way to lose a star (or two) in your patient rating.

Tip 5: Verify patient coverage plans beforehand.

Insurance plans are like alphabet soup: PPO, HMO, POS, EPO, HDHP, HSA, not to mention primary, secondary, tertiary, and many others. If you treat patients without identifying their exact insurance plan and coverage, and most importantly, without verifying whether you participate with the particular plan, you run a great risk of not getting reimbursed for your work.

Are there more practice guidelines to consider? Absolutely. But just addressing these five tips will significantly improve your cash flow and reduce your billing errors, resubmissions and rejections. After all, it’s your money. You earned it. Isn’t it time you got it under control?

Don’t miss the second article of this two-part series:

It’s Your Money: 5 More Ways to Ensure You Get All of It All the Time

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