The new year is a time to begin again with a clean slate—and to tackle all those to-dos you’ve been putting off. Before you pop the champagne (or pour yourself a large cup of coffee) to prepare for your New Year’s Eve celebrations, take some time to make sure your practice is prepared, too. This may be a busy time of year for you, as patients hurry to take advantage of their remaining benefits before insurance plans roll over. If so, you’ll need to manage your time wisely. Here’s a short list of the most important to-dos to start 2016 on the right foot.

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Reporting Wrap-Up

  • Finalize all 2015 charges on a weekly basis. Better yet, work on them daily.
  • Pinpoint—and deal with—incomplete documents before December disappears.
  • Regularly scan and report all EOBs (election of benefits) and copay logs, particularly before Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Collections Clean-Out

  • Identify and address dead balances for both patients and insurances. Take a gander at this blog post for tips—and free templates—on writing effective collections letters.
  • Exhausted your collections efforts? Then it’s time to write these amounts off as bad debt. Reach out to your accountant to find out if they qualify as tax write-offs, too.
  • Assess—and improve—your patient fees collections plan. Don’t have one? Well, the new year is a great time to initiate new processes. Check out this blog post to learn how to implement this type of plan at your clinic so you can avoid sending patients to collections in the first place.

Verification Check

  • Complete eligibility checks for all current patients and update your patient demographics forms. (Bonus points: Ask your patients to re-sign your clinic’s patient fee policy, too.)
  • Review each patient’s benefits (and insurance expiration dates) to avoid claim delays due to patient benefit changes in the new year.
  • Review your front office policies to ensure your staff is being as efficient—and effective—as possible. This blog post explains how your front office can help streamline your billing workflow to make 2016 a success.

Reference Check

Of course, with any new year comes new regulatory changes. Here’s what you should know for 2016:

  • The 2016 standard Medicare Part B monthly premium will be $121.80 (or higher, depending on the patient’s income). The deductible will increase to $166.
  • The 2016 therapy cap will be:
    • $1,960 for both PT and SLP combined
    • $1,960 for OT
  • The therapy cap exceptions process remains in effect through 2017. To learn more about therapy cap reform and to take action on this important issue, visit this APTA page.
  • PQRS 2016 is here, so brush up on the ins and outs of satisfactory reporting to ensure your practice is on track from the get-go.
  • If you’re still working out the kinks when it comes to the biggest change of 2015, ICD-10, download our definitive guide here.

One last to-do: Start thinking about how you can plan for the new year—beyond completing administrative tasks or understanding the nuances of reporting. While those things undoubtedly are important, there also are some pretty weighty issues at hand in the healthcare industry. If you aren’t aware of them—or don’t know how to approach them—your practice could get crushed. To help you strategize for the new year, check out our most recent Founder Letter to see Dr. Heidi Jannenga’s top six predictions for 2016.

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