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Five Tips to Improve Medical Practice Accounts Receivable (AR)

April 29, 2014

Accounts receivableYour accounts receivables (AR) department is the epicenter of your practice’s financial health but is it performing the way it should? Improving your account receivables management isn’t difficult and it will pay off handsomely in increased revenue from reduced claims denials and time wasted in duplicate tasks as well as rebilling.

1. Identify time thieves:

Make an assessment, such as a flow chart, of essential tasks. Are your billing and AR employees duplicating work that only needs one person to perform? While cross-training billing and coding staff is important and can save money and time should someone be out sick or on vacation or those times when staff may be stretched a bit thin, you want to avoid daily duplication, which wastes time and human and other resources.

2. Follow the paper trail:

Following a typical patient’s bill around the office is a good way to identify work flow problems and gauge the efficiency of billing and other staff members. Employees will document who has the bill at which point in the flow process. For example, the front desk personnel, physician, biller and coder may all interact with that same bill at least one time.

If asking each time someone touches that bill “Is this necessary?” and the answer is “no”, then it’s time to take steps to reduce repetition of tasks, says Fort Worth CPA Jeanne Smith, a specialist in healthcare.

If you haven’t come on board with electronic health records yet, it’s time to join the 21st century! Electronic health records (EHR) systems are a must for Medicare and Medicaid billing and can save a practice thousands of dollars in better reimbursement rates from correctly-billed claims and fewer denials and rebills.

3. Technical difficulties:

If your practice’s staff are feeling overwhelmed with staying on top of billing, posting and still handling patient interactions and updates, it may be time to think about implementing what are known as ‘patient portals;, suggests consultant Rosemarie Nelson. These help your patients assume more responsibility for the accuracy and timeliness of their basic information, such as insurance or address changes, booking appointments, renewing prescriptions and checking test results – all online. This will relieve your staff of the more mundane jobs, freeing them for other essential tasks, such as billing, coding, posting and collections.

4. Periodically re-assess staff responsibilities and competency levels:

Employee responsibilities should be consistent with their skill levels, adds Nelson. Don’t waste the time and experience of a nurse, for example, by having her or him stock shelves with supplies when this could be done by a staff member further down the pay scale.

In addition, as the deadline for the crossover to ICD-10 coding looms, it’s ‘now or never’ for training your billing and coding staff in the new system.

If you haven’t done an assessment of your billers and coders’ competencies, now is the time to do so and provide the necessary training for them to stay on track.

5. Consider staffing add-ons:

It’s a good idea to add to your billing and/ coding staff when claims workloads increase, before they reach ‘critical mass.’ Practices drowning in billing and related paperwork have less time for patient care, resulting in frustrated patients, staff and lost revenues.

Contracting with a professional medical billing service, such as M-Scribe Technologies, LLC, can be helpful in managing accont receivables and all the other related tasks.

M-Scribe, a leader in medical documentation, coding and billing, can help practices of all sizes save time and money – contact one of their professionals today to learn how they can help your practice be code-compliant, reduce denied claims and increase revenues.


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