Technology innovations that will improve your revenue cycle

September 18, 2018

Embrace electronic billing and electronic verification tools to improve your billings and collections.

Work smarter, not harder. It’s the 21st century, after all.

If you’re looking for innovations to boost your billing and collections efforts, you might want to consider embracing technology. These innovations may cost you some time and effort up front but may save you a bundle in the long run. Here are three ways to make technology work for you.

Go paperless

According to a recent survey conducted by HIMSS Analytics, nearly all medical providers still invoice patients via paper. However, more than half of surveyed patients said they would prefer to be billed electronically and pay their bills online, too. Paying bills by credit card via online patient portals can be second nature for patients who are used to adding to cart and going straight to electronic check out. “These days, people want to be able to pay their bills on their smartphones while waiting in line to pick up the kids,” says Barbie Hays, coding and compliance strategist for the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). “When that’s not an option, it’s easy to delay or even forget about paying the bill.” If you’re still sending paper invoices, consider moving into the Digital Age. Sending electronic invoices and accepting payments online can make a significant difference in your collections rate.

Accept payment on the spot

Even better than billing and accepting payment online is collecting money at the time of visit. Your chance of collecting a payment decreases by almost 20 percent the minute the patient walks out of your office, Nancy White said in a widely cited American Physical Therapy Association podcast. Accepting credit cards is one of the best ways to boost your in-office payment rate. Because fewer people carry cash these days, the ability to accept credit and debit cards at the front desk is essential in today’s practice. Just be sure you’re compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) regulations. Hays notes that keeping patients’ credit card information on file is no longer recommended because of the increasing security risks involved, especicially if you are the victim of a ransomware attack. If you explain to patients that the minor inconvenience of having to enter their credit card information for every transaction is actually a security precaution, that should resolve any complaints as well bolster their confidence about your stewardship of their data, both financial and medical.

Check eligibility while you sleep

Eligibility verification software is an underused tool that can help with your collections. This innovative technology is generally an add-on to your EHR that allows you to check a patient’s eligibility, copay, and coinsurance. Some verification software can even notify you if a patient has met his or her deductible or, if not, the specific amount you need to collect after a visit. It runs in the background to send requests in batch. “It saves time because you don’t have to call to check verification for each patient individually,” says Brennan Cantrell, commercial health insurance strategist for the AAFP. The software doesn’t work for all plans, but it should work for many of your patients with big national payers. Because the program is generally a third-party add-on, it will likely cost extra. Hays recommends practices perform an analysis to make sure you’re still coming out ahead. “For most practices, it well may be worth the cost.”