How Do Electronic Superbills Increase Efficiency?

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Toss the term superbill into a conversation with no context and your audience will either think you’re discussing an upcoming concert, a comic hero modeled after President Clinton or just abnormally large legal tender.

But alas, superbills are forms reserved for medical practitioners and clinicians, the main source for creating healthcare claims that are later submitted to insurance companies or employers for reimbursement.

This need arose because many professionals don’t currently work with insurance companies, so the printed superbill became a way to submit billed information to the organization responsible for covering treatment. Simple enough, right?

Well, perhaps not, and a paperless system seems downright tough. But can EHRs remove paper from the equation? Will paperless superbills mean more money for you?

Human Errors and Cogs in the Workflow
Superbills are the backbone of your medical practice financial dealings, and any labor and cost reductions in this area can impact your future immensely. So, its no surprise that electronic superbills are something to be excited about – they’re designed to save your practice time, money and labor.

Paper superbills, still commonly used today, are not terribly advantageous for practices. They represent more work and take longer to enter charges for billing.  Not to mention, paper superbills boast a larger margin of human error; electronic superbills mean less guessing what CPT codes were circled or missing partially circled codes. Bad coding, bad superbill.

And there’s a considerable amount of money at stake with bad superbills. The American Academy of Ophthalmology’s site cites a few real life cases on its website, including a scenario where one surgeon’s staff coded all laser treatments under the same CPT code.

Initial loss of revenue was nearly $700, but it was actually much more when surgeries beyond the audits are taken into consideration.

Going Paperless Makes Sense
It’s no surprise, as we said on Monday, that coding and EHRs make sense together – proper coding with an EHR means proper superbill. Although in this case, the superbill no longer a paper document.

EHR templates and superbills provide the platform necessary for the daily use of codes, so it’s important they’re properly implemented for EHR coding to function properly. And being able to indicate the services you’ve provided quickly and efficiently with electronic superbills inevitably translates to financial gain.

And speaking of financial gain, automating charge capture via your EHR leads to more accurate, higher levels of E&M coding. Your EHR may automatically suggest codes at the time of the patient encounter, based upon the content present in the physician’s patient progress note. No more worrying about undercharging as a result of unclear or unnecessarily confusing superbills.

Furthermore, the switch to ICD-10 is looming, where superbills will become the standard in terms of daily code usage, and electronic superbills can help you smooth the 2013 shift.

And with ICD-10 code descriptions sometimes taking up significant space on a standard letter-sized form, printing fractions of superbills will be tedious and time-consuming.

When going over the case of one hospital on her team, Gayl Kirkpatrick of 3M HIS Consulting Services recently said in a Government Health IT article they “took a two-page superbill in ICD-9 and translated that into ICD-10. It became a 48-page superbill.”

Multiple page encounter forms are impractical and costly, leading some to believe ICD-10 will make the superbill obsolete. But for most, the logical choice lies in converting to an EHR.

What are your feelings on electronic superbilling?


Ahmed Mori

Ahmed Mori joined CareCloud as a content writer specializing in Meaningful Use certification, EHRs and mHealth. He enjoys researching and reporting on innovative healthcare technologies. Read his work on PYP and the CareCloud blog. Follow him on Twitter: @AhmedPYP

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