Do what you do best, outsource the rest!
Increasing numbers of consultants and practices are experiencing high levels of debt that have accumulated over a period because of no obvious process for their invoicing and debt collection. So, is virtual medical billing and debt collection the answer?
Why is the process problematic?
With insurers beginning to impose time limit boundaries on invoices they will pay, as well as the necessity for electronic submissions, there has never been a greater need to ensure that invoices are received correctly and promptly. Strict coding rules and confirming that you have full patient details make this process lengthy and with high levels of accuracy required this means that billing your patients cannot be a hurried process. At first glance a consultant with a growing practice may feel equipped to take on the challenges of the billing and the debt collecting themselves, but a well thought out and managed plan is essential from the off.
Billing and the modern practice?
The demands of a practice are ever increasing and time important with patient care being the priority of many secretaries. However, this means that administration and particularly debt collecting can be forgotten. The clinical side of the practice is where the skills of the consultant are best utilised and administration - particularly financial administration - is not for everyone. The benefits of keeping the consultant and patient relationship purely medical are important to any practice so if the consultancy and billing department are kept separate then the relationship is not damaged by money talk. Instead the doctor and patient relationship remains built around the original matter at hand - care and treatment.
With this is mind, it is clear to see that this is where outsourcing medical billing and debt collection comes in to its own.
The benefits of outsourcing your medical billing and debt collection go so much further than the desirable savings in staff salaries, sickness and National Insurance payments. With resources to ensure timely billing leading to prompt chasing, this vastly minimises the risk of bad debt. Unpaid invoices, claim queries and shortfall follow-ups can easily be monitored and managed efficiently by the virtual billing department and leads to a steady and up to date cash flow for the practice. Expertise in medical coding, specific insurer billing practices and excellent customer service for speaking to self-pay patients allows for no delay in the acceptance of invoices.
Recent experience has seen a client with more than £60,000 in outstanding debts have this reduced by more than 60% in just one month. Logical investigation of the accounts very often highlights simple wins for debt collection and the first steps of recovering outstanding fees are usually identified quickly but you need the experience of how and where to start. The balance of this particular client's accrued debt is estimated to be completed to approximately 85% collected but left much longer and that percentage would have been much lower.
It is unfortunate that the main insurers have now imposed a six-month turnaround on invoices otherwise the balance of this debt would be completed to a more substantial level. Moving forward the system has been improved, with quicker invoicing turnaround, the request for correct billing information being made at time of appointment and initial chasing being carried out at the earliest opportunity. The addition of online/telephone payments allow self-funding patients an immediate way to clear their invoices upon receipt - online payments also allow patients to pay by credit card meaning funds aren't necessarily needed immediately. Depending on the procedure many patients favour this method of payment. Although offering online payments to patients has an outlay, the reduction in time spent chasing debts that are paid immediately more than covers this cost.
The dilemma - or is it really?
Ultimately consultants will be taxed on the work they invoice meaning any invoices that are not paid and inefficiently written off will cost the practice money. Medical billing companies will charge depending on the fees they collect so they need to work hard for you to earn for themselves. The consideration here is whether the savings in tax, bad debt collection and peace of mind outweigh the costs for this service.
A valuable, hardworking medical billing and debt collection service is crucial to any practice that wants to make the most of their expertise and reputation.
A vital solution for a healthy practice.