We might not live in a post-apocalyptic world like the characters in the latest Mad Max film, but it certainly feels familiar in the world of physical therapy, where private practices fight to survive against ever-shrinking profit margins and federal legislation that threatens to erode bottom lines. Our weapon of choice in this furious battle? Increased efficiency. Here’s the strategy:
Paper claims process in six to eight weeks, while electronic claims process in about two weeks. It doesn’t take a beautiful mind to crunch those numbers; clearly, electronic claims are the way to go. (And for Medicare claims, it’s the only way to go.) But technology doesn’t just speed up your reimbursement process; it also catches billing errors that result in underpayment or outright claim rejection.
If you don’t use technology to follow up with patients regarding late payments, you’re likely putting a lot of time and money into tracking down those funds. What does it really cost you to manually collect late payments? Is it worth the man (or woman) hours? Probably not. Instead of wasting your human resources, leverage your technological options to:
- Automate outbound payment reminders.
- Inform your staff of patient balances.
- Improve your patient payment process.
- Update patient insurance records.
It’s not enough to simply provide the best technology to your staff. Your billing team plays a huge role in keeping your revenue stream rockin’, so they need to have the right stuff, too. Not sure if your team is a well-oiled billing machine? Here are some things to consider at the individual level: performance (which we’ll talk about more below), ability to perform the tasks of his or her role, and dedication to continuing education.
And when I say continuing education, I’m not strictly referring to CEUs. Have you established a training program to keep everyone up-to-date on the latest and greatest in physical therapy billing? If not, make it a priority. After all, you can’t expect your staff to maximize reimbursements if they don’t know how to do so. Educating your staff on proper policies and procedures can improve your first-round submission acceptance rate—and reduce the pesky billing errors that wreak havoc on your cash flow.
The first steps to holding your staff and billing practices accountable are:
- Determining your benchmarks.
- Setting goals.
You’ll need to consider key performance indicators—like AR aging, net collections per patient encounter, and average charges per specific provider—to get a good sense of how well your current billing processes are working. (While you’re at it, get to know your payers, too—especially your top five.) Then, establish realistic clinic and individual goals for maximizing reimbursements, and ensure you hold everyone—including yourself—accountable for meeting those marks.
Keep in mind that you’ll need staff buy-in to be successful, so don’t forget to clue your team in to the new goals, your plans to track progress, and each staff member’s adjusted roles or responsibilities. That way, everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals.
Like Mad Max, WebPT is here to help you safely cross the harsh reimbursement landscape. (Yes, that means you’re our Charlize Theron. You’re welcome.) It won’t be easy; it won’t be pretty; and it won’t be nearly as exciting as an action movie, but we know you’ve got this.