Financial management of a medical practice is similar to mastery of a fine art or sport; it's something that one has to be working at constantly in order to do well. However, striving for financial excellence doesn't have to be a chore. In fact, there are several key habits that you can work into the practice's daily and quarterly routine that can help you maximize profit, reduce error and improve financial stability across the board. Whether you're satisfied with the state of your practice's financials or are looking to improve them, you may benefit from reading these tips:
Have a clear policy regarding insurance inquiries
One of the best things that you can do for your practice's financial management health, according to Medical Economics, is to ensure that your methods and policies regarding insurance and billing are clear to everyone on your staff.
"Ensure that your billing methods are clear to your staff."
For example, you may want to institute a rule in which a patient's insurance policy and eligibility with your practice is checked at the time an appointment is scheduled. Setting a policy like this will allow you to develop a clearer understanding of exactly what billing processes will be used with that individual moving forward. If you do establish this rule as a part of your practice, ensure that all the professionals employed at your office (including the billing staff) are aware of it. Having e-eligibility as a feature of your medical billing software makes implementing this policy easy.
Provide ongoing education for your billing staff
Your coding, billing, and office staff need to work together to keep your practice's financial management running smoothly, so it's important that they are up to date with their education. Encouraging staff to pursue ongoing education opportunities benefits the practice as a whole so they can stay up to date on ever-changing government mandates, such as ICD-10. Proper billing training is essential to maximizing revenue cycle management accuracy, as Physician's Practice has reported that up to 30 percent of a practice's income is lost through billing errors. This will not only benefit your bottom line, but also increase the effectiveness of your practice management techniques.
Track data and create a charge policy for missed appointments
Dealing with missed and canceled appointments is a problem most practices continually face, and it can have a long-term impact on your profitability. For example, let's say your practice charges $100 per appointment. If seven patients miss or cancel their appointment per week and you cannot fill their spot, your practice will likely lose more than $36,000 in a year. Over a ten year period, that adds up considerably to around $364,000 in lost revenue. Time spent on filling these missed appointments could be better used on more productive tasks. If you are in the market for a new practice management system, be sure to look for a solution with robust scheduling capabilities, such as a rescheduling queue and automated waiting list to minimize time spent on rescheduling.
Tracking no-show and cancellation data will allow your practice to be able to identify common patterns and frequent culprits, enabling you to create a plan on how to deal with missed appointments. A patient with a high rate of cancellations or missed appointments could scheduled near the end of the day when things are beginning to wind down, or during a time when many patients request appointments so it will be easier to fill if canceled.
The American Medical Association has determined that charging a patient for missed appointments or for appointments canceled less than 24 hours in advance is ethical if patients are informed that they could be charged. If your practice decides to implement a charge policy regarding missed or canceled appointments, patients should be notified in writing as well as when they schedule their appointment.
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