Healthcare as an industry has changed dramatically over the past few years. Many small practices have decided to merge with other providers or have been bought out by larger healthcare organizations. There is an influx of new regulations and costs associated with running a successful practice. Additionally, the changing dynamic in insurance coverage and patient out-of-pocket payments have made it difficult for many smaller practices to maintain their autonomy. For independent practice managers, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of changes to revenue cycle management (RCM).
For your practice to thrive, it’s imperative that RCM runs smoothly and that problems in your revenue cycle are effectively eliminated. While coding and insurance verification are essential, other initiatives to ensure patient satisfaction and engagement are also becoming key for practices to succeed.
[DOWNLOAD THE GUIDE] How To Choose The Right RCM Partner
Medical Billing With A Patient Centered Approach
For independent practice managers, there are a number of considerations concerning RCM improvement. Patients are paying higher premiums and are more actively involved in making choices regarding the type of treatment they receive. In many cases, patients may also need to set up scheduled payment plans. Practices that work with patients to ensure transparency see much shorter wait times on payments. There are a number of technologies and protocols that can be initiated to dramatically improve the collections process for both patients and the healthcare organization.
- Insurance Verification/Data Collection. Your data collection process should start before the patient even enters your practice. Setting up a web portal or gathering pertinent information prior to the first visit cuts down on the patient’s wait time and the check-in process. Additionally, verifying insurance in advance allows your front desk personnel to address issues such as lapses in coverage or excessive out-of-pocket expenses.
- Payment Schedule. Because many patients have higher deductibles, it’s common for the bulk of a visit not to be covered by the insurance company. In these cases, transparency is imperative for the patient. This allows them to budget payments and work with your office to set a regular payment schedule when necessary.
- Card on File. Many practices find card on file systems helpful in streamlining their RCM. This allows your practice to keep the patient’s credit card information on file and charge the scheduled payments, as well as office visit co-pays. Card on file systems have shown a great decrease in patient debt and outstanding bills.
- Point of Service Payment. Many practices have adopted a point of service payment policy. In this scenario, the practice may verify insurance and require the patient’s portion of the bill up front, prior to the visit.
- Web Portal. Offering a web portal where the patient can log in, check their scheduled appointments, have access to news and their own records, and pay their outstanding balance has a number of benefits. Patients love the convenience of having access to all of their documents in one space and find paying online more convenient, therefore they’re more likely to pay on time. This initiative also helps practices stay up-to-date with Meaningful Use requirements and aids in encouraging patient compliance with treatment plans.
[INFOGRAPHIC] Considerations For Choosing An RCM Partner
Independent Practice Managers – Keeping On Point With Changes
Many independent practice managers opt to outsource some portions of the running of their organization. This may mean hiring a vendor to be responsible for coding, billing, or even hiring a call center to handle patient questions and concerns. In many cases, hiring a company to take care of billing can be beneficial because their expertise in RCM for medical practices can streamline the process for both your practice and the patient, offering a more convenient experience. However, practices also need to schedule regular reviews of these responsibilities to keep the cycle running smoothly and verify that vendors are best meeting patient needs.