Revenue cycle management is fundamental to running a successful practice, but filing claims to payers without having them denied and collecting bills in a timely manner isn’t always easy.
To help streamline the process, we’ve outlined problematic revenue cycle management issues for medical practices and how to fix them. The conflicts below offer physicians the opportunity to improve revenue stream, making for a more successful practice, satisfied patients and diminished stress.
Educate your staff
Think about how much money inaccurate coding can cost your practice. No one is ever in the mood to lose tens of thousands of dollars.
Your practice’s staff should be educated on what their role is within the revenue cycle. In this sense, RCM is similar to an assembly line – every member does his or her job and passes it on to the person in charge of the next phase.
Tools like card scanners that cut down data entry errors and billing automation via revenue cycle management systems are especially useful, provided proper training has been provided for staff members. In the case of RCM systems, some vendors provide training for their applications, whether for a small fee or free of charge.
Whether or not you rely on technology, every staff member should understand what his or her responsibilities entail and how it impacts the practice’s bottom line. To better educate your staff, communication at your practice should be enhanced. This begins with the physician and office manager.
Better Communication Between Physician and Financial Staff
It’s not uncommon for physicians to lose touch with the financial state of the practice. And seeing as a physician is essentially the chief executive of his or her own practice, what do you think happens when a CEO loses financial touch of a Fortune 500 Corporation?
No matter how adept an office manager may be, you must be fully engaged in the RCM process. Small problems will escalate rapidly if a physician stops keeping tabs on his practice’s financial status – sometimes resulting in as much as 20% of practice income being lost.
Or what if you wish to implement a new technology in the revenue cycle – such as an automated RCM system – but you don’t consult with your office manager and financial staff? Imagine the extended timelines, inefficiencies and delayed adoption.
It shouldn’t be difficult to solve this disconnect. Bi-weekly meetings should occur between you and your financial staff, where billings, collections and office revenue should be reviewed.
Along with periodic reports, preferably via email to provide you with remote access, this top-down approach will ensure enhanced practice-wide communication, which means you’re also beginning to establish consistent workflow processes.
Establish Workflow Consistency
It goes without saying that any successful practice needs to establish consistency in its workflow processes to improve revenue cycle management.
There are a number of workflow issues a practice should resolve for the sake of revenue cycle efficiency. For one, your practice can implement processes and tools to better streamline the revenue cycle.
Centralized scheduling works towards practice efficiency for instance, helping office managers see ahead of time how many staff members are needed, pre-register patients, and ensure insurance companies and patients know what they owe.
Pre-encounter services can take care of patient financial issues before entering the examination room, relieving stress for physicians, office managers and patients alike.
Inefficient A/R follow-up can also be a factor that hinders a practice’s revenue cycle greatly. The answer here is simple – keep tabs on lagging collection times, improper insurance coordination and excessive write offs, all of which interfere with your practice’s livelihood.
Reduce inefficiency via periodic goal setting, which can be enhanced with healthy competition. Split departments into teams and have them compete for financial benchmarks, like time-of-service collections. Reward the winning team(s) and enjoy more efficient performance monitoring.
Furthermore, teams like the ones above decrease waste and correct mistakes. And in reality, this streamlining of processes allows your practice to be organized which, as obvious at it may seem, is the key to an efficient revenue cycle. It’s just easier said than done.
How do you make your revenue cycle more efficient? Are you having a difficult time getting organized?
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