Statistically, the moment a patient leaves a medical office without paying their outstanding bill, there is a 30% chance that they will never meet their financial responsibility. Unfortunately, for ABA therapists and other health care professionals, recovering these unpaid funds means spending significant resources, that go beyond financial considerations, and also include time lost in the red tape of the collections process.
It is such a recurring trend, that many providers feel chasing these patients for their outstanding responsibility is simply unprofitable in a real-world sense. At the same time, the growing patient responsibility also makes this mindset untenable.
Payers and public health institutions often burden consumers with higher responsibilities via things like increased deductible health plans, and higher premiums to recoup potential losses in advance. Yet these higher prices also mean that a higher number of patients will leave the office without paying.
Over the years this trend has become a self-feeding cycle that leaves many providers and payer institutions scratching their heads in search of an answer.
Though there are a few practices that have evolved out of this trend that might help or at least shed some light on best practices for streamlining your Accounts Receivables and reducing the risk of outstanding patient debt.
Best Practices For Reducing Accounts Receivable Losses
The following are some best-practices tips and techniques to minimize losses due to a patient or client’s non-payment. Employing one or more of these strategies can go a long way toward maintaining a consistently robust revenue stream.
Encourage Patients With Early Payments
Tracking accounts receivables can be a very expensive as well as a time-consuming endeavor. If possible, try to reduce the number of accounts your staff needs to track by encouraging clients, patients, or caregivers to pay early or in advance.
This can even be done during the scheduling process. Just make sure that you or your administrative staff in charge of the schedule is clear about payment options and patient responsibility. That way the patient feels informed and is more likely to pay promptly or perhaps even in advance of the therapy session.
This is also a good time to make sure that they are aware that they will be charged for a no-show. As the time is already booked and they will retain the financial responsibility for the session within your established scheduling guidelines.
Research carried out by the Academy of Healthcare Revenue notes that providers receive reimbursements 70% of the time that they request at the point of service. This means that consistently encouraging patients to pay immediately before or following services simplifies the follow-up process for your recovery team. All while developing a clear understanding of payment responsibilities for the patient that carries over to future costs.
Closely Track Your Accounts Receivable
Carefully tracking your accounts receivables by age can also help to determine the significance of each charge. Then be sure to contact patients as necessary to get a better understanding of their payment status. Repeat patients might also have overdue bills. Having a thorough understanding of account details helps to address these outstanding bills on subsequent visits.
While you are waiting for insurance payments, set a fixed period before contacting the payer or public health institution of note. Just how long you wait will be dependent on the type of service and Payer. Ask for clarification if a representative for the payer institutions expresses concerns with your submission. The sooner you receive specific information about a pending claim, the sooner you can submit it or clarify the missing information.
Maintain The Highest Professional Standards For Your Staff
A lot of small practices assign a single individual or a small team of administrative staff to handle medical billing and accounts receivable. Having to resubmit claims is an inefficient use of administrative time. They could be better served handling duties that expand the scope of your practice or helping with other patients.
Ideally, you want to instill your staff with well-defined standards and professional expectations as part of a general office code of conduct for accounts receivable best practices.
This will go a long way toward weeding out errors before submitting a claim. You should also strongly consider performing periodic internal audits to discover discrepancies in billing processes.
Then take the necessary time to accurately rack the types of errors you commonly receive. A lot of insurance payers and public health institutions have unique standards. So be sure to note which Payer is associated with each error. Your team may need to contact a payer supervisor to iron out conflicting information.
Make The Most Out Of Modern-Day Medical Billing Technology
Modern-day claim submitting technology leads to more accurate submissions. These sophisticated systems are designed to be able to scan a claim and notify the user of any errors. At that point, your in-house billing staff can rework the claim as needed to eliminate the red flag. This simple practice also helps to avoid late resubmissions by gaining this knowledge earlier in the billing timeline.
Hire a Third Party Professional Billing Company
A lot of small practices find that they benefit significantly by spending the majority of their time on patient treatment, on-boarding, and developing patients through their treatment plans efficiently. By focusing on improving medical outcomes, healthcare providers tend to feel more satisfied knowing they’ve boosted their patients’ quality of life as well as their practice’s finances.
As a third-party medical billing agency, Operant Billing Solutions helps small practices and solo practitioners to focus on patients and meet their treatment goals. Our coding and medical billing specialists are experts at efficiently submitting claims and following up where appropriate.
Operant Billing Solutions saves your practice time while getting the highest reimbursement rates possible from patients and payer institutions. This frees you to stay focused on your practice, while also reducing the number of unpaid claims and outstanding bills. You might even be able to reallocate administrative staff from their current position working in medical billing to help grow other areas of your practice.