You’ve got a business to keep afloat, staff to pay, and patients to serve—so, of course you want to make the most out of every unit charged. But boosting billing productivity doesn't necessarily mean squeezing every possible charge out of each date of service—especially when those charges aren’t warranted. With that in mind, here are seven workflow and strategy best practices to ensure you’re billing at your best (adapted from this resource as well as our vast practice management experience). Follow these, and you can ethically boost billing productivity—and improve your bottom line (along with your employees’ engagement):
1. Create a plan.
It’s a lot harder to navigate new terrain without a map, which is why you’ll need a plan for getting your billing productivity from where it stands (a.k.a. your benchmark) to where you’d like it to be (a.k.a. your goal). And that’s going to require an honest evaluation of your current processes and practices. Take note of snags such as workflows that require your staff to perform a lot of manual or redundant work, as those can be especially error-prone and time-consuming—not to mention burnout-producing. Be sure your plan also includes steps for measuring progress—and for that, you’ll need billing reports that alert you to trends, opportunities, and successes.
2. Get your people on board.
Your people are the key to, well, everything—but especially the success of a new endeavour. So, if you’re looking to boost your billing productivity, you’ll need to have your entire team onboard. To accomplish that, set up a time to communicate this new initiative as well as the goals you’ve established in number one above. Be sure this dialogue outlines what’s in it for them—like better, more streamlined workflows and maybe even a bigger bonus (if that aligns with your compensation structure). And provide ample time to respond to questions and address concerns.
3. Unsilo your staff.
According to the resource cited in the introduction, “revenue cycle management works best when all systems and departments are thoroughly integrated”—and we couldn’t agree more. Yet, many practices relegate billers, front office personnel, and clinical staff to their own silos, which hinders communication and creates confusion. Instead, unify your entire team behind a common purpose and provide them with ample opportunity to collaborate with one another to achieve that goal. After all, successful revenue cycle management (RCM) requires all hands on deck.
4. Support your team.
If your staff is overworked or burned out, then they’re most likely not performing at their best—and that can lead to costly denials and/or declining reimbursements (not to mention staff turnover). With that in mind, it’s best to ensure your team has the support they need—whether that looks like:
- adding someone to the team;
- offering additional educational opportunities;
- adopting new billing software to improve workflow and ensure compliance with ever-evolving rules and regulations; or
- outsourcing your billing completely.
How can you know how your staff is doing? Ask—and if you want to be strategic about it, incorporate employee Net Promoter ScoreⓇ (NPSⓇ) tracking, which will allow you to objectively measure employee loyalty and ensure it’s improving.
5. Connect with your peers.
As the above-cited resource points out, there’s huge value in learning best practices from your peers. After all, any PT practices in your region that are in-network with your payers likely face the same challenges that you do, which is why “talking to others in the industry is a great way to learn about proven methods and technology to improve biller productivity.” That’s yet another reason to attend this year’s Ascend event. This September, exceptional education, world-class speakers, cutting-edge products, and powerful networking will converge at this one-of-a-kind industry conference. During this two-day event in Minneapolis, you’ll get a year’s worth of insights and ideas that you can take back to your practice and put into action right away.
6. Choose the highest-paying, most relevant CPT code.
As Meredith Castin, PT, explains here, the most important thing to remember in order to “use CPT codes to their fullest”—and thus capture the full reimbursement you deserve—is that “CPT codes should always match the intent of the physical therapy interventions described in your notes.” Thus, the best way to support intent is with detailed clinical notes—especially when you’re billing for “trickier” movement intervention codes such as 97110, 97112, and 97530. Check out her post in full for examples of how to make the most out of these codes.
7. Bill for all billable time.
As it stands, many PTs aren’t billing for their assessment and management time, thereby leaving well-earned money on the table—and undervaluing their services. As John Wallace—WebPT’s Chief Business Development Officer of Revenue Cycle Management (RCM)—explains here, “For timed CPT codes...only the minutes we spend face-to-face with our patients are billable. But, many therapists do not bill for all of [their] facetime minutes because they undercount their assessment and management time with patients.” That’s why he advises providers to document:
- “clinical reasoning;
- “changes you make in the treatment plan;
- “any discussion you have with the patient;
- “progress toward plan of care goals; and
- “changes in the treatment plan you intend to make in upcoming patient visits.”
For more on billing for assessment and management time—as well as a documentation example that supports it—check out the post in full.
There you have it: seven workflow and strategy best practices for boosting billing productively—ethically. Have your own strategies to share? We’d love to hear them. Leave them in the comment section below.