Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. If you run your practice like the business it is, then you already know that keeping revenue flowing is what allows you to continue providing valuable patient care. Here are three habits to develop and maintain in your office that can help ensure consistent cash flow.
- Stay on top of insurance payments. In a perfect world, your billing staff would submit claims for payments from insurance companies and the amounts due would appear in your bank account quickly and without question. Alas, the world of healthcare reimbursement is far from perfect. Insurance companies deny, delay, and question claims so frequently that it sometimes seems like the practice is built in to their business model. This reality means that billing staff must be meticulous in responding to requests for additional information, communicating with patients as needed to keep the process moving, resubmitting claims, and never giving up when it comes to chasing down payments. You can minimize the number of denials and delayed payments from insurance companies by being diligent on the front end. Put a procedure in place to verify insurance at the outset of care and be sure to code claims carefully. These two steps alone will save time down the line and maybe prevent a few headaches as well. If you notice an uptick in the number of denied claims, review your procedures to identify where the problem lies and then take action to tighten up your system.
- Collect at the time of service. This goes for co-pays, deductibles, payments for uncovered services, and payments from patients who do not have insurance. It’s no secret that it’s more efficient to collect a $20 or $30 co-pay while a patient is in the office than it is to bill and try to collect it weeks or months down the road. Patients expect to pony up co-payments and it’s the job of front desk staff to help patients comply with their own expectation. For larger amounts, consider offering a small discount for full payment at the time of service via cash or check. If you’re not accepting credit cards in your practice you are missing out on making it easy for patients to pay you. (Note: Because you’ll pay a percentage of the collected amount to your merchant card company, offer either a cash discount or the opportunity to pay using a credit card, but not both.)
- Don’t let patient balances linger. This is where too many practices get into trouble when it comes to keeping cash flowing consistently. Once an insurance company has paid on a claim, the patient should receive a statement for the portion they are responsible for within a few days. Chances are good that the patient received a copy of their EOB at around the same time you received payment, so they’re anticipating a request for payment. Do not miss the opportunity to collect while everything is fresh on the mind of the patient – both the fact that the insurance claim has been processed and that they received care when they needed it and are still feeling appreciative.