Although medical practices are rarely thought of as businesses in the same sense retail shops or restaurants are, revenue is necessary to keeping a practice running. If your practice is struggling with billing or collections, here are the top five strategies you should try:
- Get Better Data on Your Current Billing Practices
If you’re not quite sure exactly where your practice is losing money, it’s time to gather better data. Most medical billing systems will allow you to run reports (and if yours doesn’t, it’s time for an upgrade). Are you treating patients only to find out their insurance isn’t valid? Getting denials? Struggling to get patients themselves to pay bills promptly? Those are all common culprits, but there could be other problems you need to resolve.
- Collect Co-Pays at Time of Service
The easiest way to ensure you’re not losing little sums of money repeatedly is to collect co-pays on the spot. Make your policy clear, and reschedule anyone who shows up unprepared to pay (except for acutely ill individuals, of course; you and your office staff will have to exercise judgment as to your ethical responsibilities). If you offer payment plans, make sure patients know in advance exactly what amounts will need to be paid when so they can’t use confusion as an excuse for delaying or refusing payment.
- Give Your Patients as Many Payment Options as Possible
The easier it is for people to pay you, the better. There’s nothing wrong with steering people toward certain forms of payment (especially if you have to pay a fee to deposit checks, for example), but be sure to give a few options. If you can offer a payment portal online, you’ll probably get much quicker results than if you require people to put something in the mail.
- Use Integrated EMR Practice Management Software
If you’ve been paying any attention at all to medical software systems in the past 10 years, you’ll know that electronic medical records have been touted to improve overall efficiency by about 6% each year, as well as improving overall financial standing. How can they do that — especially given that they can soak up a little extra time? A 2014 survey found that family practice physicians spend 48 extra minutes a day on EMRs. The answer is that EMRs can be integrated with medical billing systems to make billing a breeze. No wonder about half of the physicians that don’t currently have electronic record systems are planning to start using one within the next year.
- Outsource Your Billing and Collections
If your practice is pouring too much time and too many resources into collections, your best option may simply be outsourcing the process. By having trained agents interacting with insurance companies and patients, you’ll have a more profitable practice even as you get to focus on the part that you do best: providing outstanding care.
Do you have any other thoughts on medical billing systems or collection practices? Join the discussion in the comments.