Four Steps to Healthier Accounts Receivable at Your Medical Practice

April 13, 2013

Stop cash flow from being a regular issue at your medical practice with these four tips to minimize the time between seeing a patient and getting paid.

It happens in most all practices - the time of the month when cash flow becomes an issue. Instead of panicking and finding short-term solutions for long-standing problems, take a minute to consider the bigger picture.

How would you like your 0-30 days accounts receivable (A/R) to be 80 percent of your total A/R. Yes, it is possible, and the healthiest practices operate with this percent as a long-term goal. Here are some areas you can look at right now that can quickly boost your dwindling cash flow issue:

Bill your claims out daily. Yes, daily. This will immediately result in your claim being processed within 30 days, and not automatically push it to the 30-60 day category. You're already in trouble if you are not billing out daily. If your billing company or department does not do this now, have a sit-down meeting with them, and ask them to start this process with your claims. You will see immediate results.

Handledocumentation requests from your billing department immediately. This is such a quick and easy solution, that you will see results within a month or two months. When your billing department requests additional documentation either to process an original claim or fulfill a denial or delay in payment from the insurance company, is your staff getting back to them within 24 hours? They should be. Thinking about the lifecycle of a single claim, it's no wonder a majority of you’re A/R is in the 90+ category. If you are billing out on a monthly basis, your claims are already in the 30-60 day category. On top of that, you now have to wait to hear back from the insurance company, so your claims are now in the 45-60 day category. If your billing department has requested documentation, and your staff is sitting on those requests because they're too busy processing patients, now you've pushed the claim out to the 75-90 day category. See how quickly this can happen? Filling your lobby and rooms with more patients is not the long-term solution.

Follow up with your billing department. Whether it is an internal billing department or an outsourced company, following up with them in critical. Some companies don't want to bother with secondary claims because the yield is low. Denials are also more work and require more time with sometimes poor results. Following up with them as frequently as possible - a minimum once a month - is a critical step in lowering you’re a/R.

Are all of your practitioners on your insurance contracts? Many plans have applications the physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant must fill out that include their license number and NPI. If your staff have not filled these out, then you need to check to see if your adjustments (write-offs) are due to a physician not being on a particular contract. Blue Cross, Blue Shield, United Health Care, TriCare, and Medicare, are just a few that require this certification. Some workers' compensation companies pay differently (up to $10/ visit to $15/visit) for therapists who are considered in-network versus out-of-network. It's really worth your time to ask.

By following these four tips today, you can shorten the time between seeing a patient and being paid for your services. They are easy, quick and will yield you the highest result in the shortest amount of time.