Providing great healthcare is essential to the bottom lines of patient-facing organizations. It seems a simple formula: By taking care of your patients, you’ll get paid by them and their insurers and have the ability to stay in business.
Unfortunately, it’s not always quite that simple. Whether it’s payment from a payer, patient, or other healthcare organization, getting money for services rendered isn’t always easy. Patients may refuse or forget to pay, and insurers could make a partial payment -- or deny payment entirely. Managing these accounts receivable is critical to keeping your practice operating.
To help your organization get paid in a timely manner, here are five important accounts receivable best practices.
True productivity is not just volume (how much you get done) but value (what that work is worth). A large part of the success of an AR Team is the way you prioritize work at the company level. Prioritization should be a balance of effort, potential payoff/revenue, and the probability of actually collecting. This ties into employee buy-in and satisfaction, as well: Employees have fuller plates than ever, and they need clear communication on how to balance their workload and what is most important to the company.
Identify your “quick wins” that will provide the most value with the least expenditure of effort. See the next item for our thoughts on where to start.
It’s well-known by experts that as a debt gets older, it’s less likely to get paid. That means the easiest way to ensure everything is paid up is by focusing your efforts on the newest accounts receivable. Consider offering incentives for self-pay within 30 days, such as a small discount. Move the rest of the debt into buckets by age and focus collection efforts heavily on the most recent buckets - that’s where you’ll see the greatest return on your investment.
It’s essential to dedicate employees to accounts receivable, but you should free up their time for only the most valuable tasks by automating any operations you can. Any standardized tasks, such as automatically calling or sending notices to accounts that have aged a certain point can and should be automated. You’ll eliminate the possibility of human error from these simple tasks and free your staff up to focus on more important things.
The very best way to address accounts payable difficulties is by taking a look at the real-time data you’re collecting on an ongoing basis. Review the accounts that have been left unpaid and see if there are any patterns. Perhaps you’re doing well with collecting directly from patients, but insurers are denying claims at a high rate. Whatever the case might be, you’ll know where the best use of your time and effort is and have the confidence you need to be more proactive.
The best way to avoid having to collect or fight denials is by avoiding them in the first place. That’s why it’s vital that every single treatment is coded properly, no matter how big or small it is. Having one or more truly experienced medical coders improves how accurate your accounts receivable are. It also ensures everything is billed and processed quickly, and we have already established that the younger a debt is, the more likely it is to be paid.
Collecting the funds owed to you is not always simple, but it’s critical to your healthcare organization. If you can’t get paid, you’re not going to stay in business very long. By following the five accounts receivable best practices outlined above, you’ll simplify your processes and collect more effectively than ever before!
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