Billing and collections are complex undertakings in physical therapy. The first part of this series covered upfront collections and setting up payment plans to make it more convenient for patients to pay. The second part of this series will focus on what you can do when those steps still don’t result in paid bills and how to use technology to boost efficiency. Here are some tips to make the collections process easier:
Don’t ignore unpaid claims. Because of standards created by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, physical therapists can’t leave messages about billing matters over voicemail unless they turn the invoice over to a collections agency. However, if you acquire written permission from patients when they attend their first appointments, you can leave them messages specific to billing concerns. Simply leaving a message asking them to call you back is likely to be ignored. Getting this permission allows staff members to create a sense of urgency by using language such as “This invoice may be turned over to a collections agency.” Patients will want to avoid the negative impact on their credit reports and likely respond.
If you send multiple notices and leave messages yet receive no response or payment, it’s time to turn the invoice over to collections. It’s important to assess your collections process to identify areas for improvement or there may be significant gaps. Auditing your collections process on a regular basis helps you close these deficiencies.
Improve your billing and collections for a stronger revenue cycle.
Resubmit denied claims
One of the the biggest billing mistakes a physical therapy practice can make is not following up on denied claims. Denials happen for a variety of reasons, including simple clerical errors. Checking and resubmitting these claims helps you get paid. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stated 60 percent of denied, lost or ignored claims are never resubmitted. This could cause your practice to lose a substantial amount of revenue. In addition, 18 percent of claims are never paid. Staying on top of open claims and following up on denials ensures your clinic maintains a strong revenue cycle.
Use billing software and patient portals to streamline operations
Replacing manual processes with technology can improve the entire billing process. Automated procedures cut down on errors and save time so invoices don’t sit around your office instead of going to patients. A sophisticated billing system increases visibility into your entire revenue cycle, which allows staff members to spot issues more quickly. With a shared platform, it’s easier for all clinic employees to follow the same steps for a more uniform billing and collections process. Following the same procedure further reduces the potential for errors.
Patient-facing technology adds convenience for all parties. Enabling a patient portal gives patients another way to pay their bills on time. Copays can be submitted before appointments, and these portals make it easier to stick to a payment plan because you can send email reminders to ensure patients don’t miss deadlines. Extending as much technology as possible to patients increases the chances of them meeting their financial obligations to your clinic.
This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers Inc. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.