Today's Medical Practice Cash Flow Tied to Internet

April 3, 2012

Are you restricting Internet access to your medical practice staff? If so, some of your cash flow is not only offline but also in jeopardy.

In the past 10 years I have come across more physician practices who will not allow access to the Internet from their office computers. They believe that their staff will only look at Facebook, their e-mails, etc.

Two things come to mind when I hear this:

1. I keep hoping that physicians will start to realize that the Internet is vital to the smooth flow of their practice and their cash flow. The practice can actually limit what sites an employee can go to, so the social part of the Internet can be stopped. The practice needs to do authorizations, insurance coverage checks, etc., via the Internet; or, they don’t get paid. Pretty simple.

2. I keep hoping that as technology has advanced, physicians will start to understand they must get online. However, I still run across practices who think this way. Scary!

Many insurance companies send out e-mails to let practices know changes in coverage and changes in claims submission rules. Do you really want to miss those?

Many insurance companies no longer send out EOBs and you can only download them from the Internet. Do you really want to miss out on receiving those?

Many insurance companies require you to submit electronic reviews of claims. This is much more cost effective for them as well as for the practice. And, to my mind more importantly, your claim reviews are processed correctly and more quickly. Do you really want to miss out on a benefit to increase your cash flow?

Many insurance companies no longer send paper checks and your practice needs to be sure that you are receiving the checks the insurance companies are sending electronically. You need to make available to one, trusted person online access to the bank account for verification of payment. Do you really want to take the chance that the check you were supposed to receive never made it?

Many credit card companies will let you post credit card payments to your account through the Internet. This again is a benefit to your cash flow. Do you really want to miss out on ways to make your staff more efficient and your cash flow more secure?

Many insurance companies only allow practices to do pre-authorizations and insurance coverage verifications over the Internet. Do you really want to miss out on getting paid because you couldn’t do the necessary steps the insurance company requires?

As time goes by, more and more insurance companies are requiring your office to go online to do your follow-up work and your pre-visit work. Doing it via the phone is time consuming for both the insurance company and especially for your practice. We save only the most complicated issues for the phone and are able to handle ninety percent of our problems via the Internet.

Handling issues through the Internet also gives you one very important benefit. Since the issue was addressed through the Internet, there is an audit trail in the insurance company. You can also keep an audit trail and no longer will you hear those irritating words: "We have nothing on file here about that!" If you do, you can escalate the issue to a higher power and you have all the proof you need to get prompt action.

I strongly suggest that while it is still considered to be optional to communicate with an insurance company through the Internet, you do so. Once it becomes mandatory, you and your staff will not be comfortable with the process and you will lose time and money. That's never a good thing!

Find out more about Sue Irwin and our other Practice Notes bloggers.