Your office lobby is packed. Your front office staff is stressed. Your phone is ringing and it's your billing department asking for some documentation on a patient. “I don't have time right now,” you hear your staff member say. A week goes by, and the phone rings again, this time followed by a faxed list of missing or requested information. “I still don't have the time,” says your staff member.
How often does this scenario play out in your practice? It happens every day in many medical facilities across the country. What can be done about it? A few easy steps can keep you on track, improve your communication with your billing department, and get you paid much quicker!
First, you must understand that when your billing department is asking for documentation, it is simply because the insurance company is requesting it prior to submitting payment to you for your services. So not providing this information only pushes those charges out further and further until they are aging out in the 120+ category. The quicker you can respond to the requests, the quicker you will be paid.
Now it's time to sit down (via face-to-face or conference call) with your billing representative and devise a working plan that will fulfill their requests and not take too much time away from your front office's daily duties. I suggest that once a week a request list of needed documentation is e-mailed or faxed over to your office. Both of you decide which day that will be and stick to it.
From that day, the office staff member that you designate (it should be the same person each week) has one week to gather and send the requested information. One week allows for all medical staff to complete chart notes, and daily tasks to still be completed. The items can be sent throughout the week until the list has been completed. It is imperative that the person you designate stays on top of that request list and asks for any information that they are unable to obtain themselves. In other words, don't pick your quietest, shyest person for this task.
By keeping this task designated to one person, several things will happen. If there is miscommunication between your practice and the billing department, one person will be able to handle the request leaving the rest of your staff to stick to their tasks, uninterrupted. This will reduce stress and duplication of work. If something was not received although sent, it's very simple for the same person to send the information again. That's what the "Sent" folder is for on your computer. Just re-forward it. When you have the same person performing this task, they will learn which insurances need what documentation and will start sending that over up front, already reducing the time the claim sits in your A/R and helping your billing department send out clean claims each time.
Oftentimes when you have an outsourced billing department, a level of frustration can be created by looking at that department as “them” and your staff as “us.” It's all “us.” They are an extension of the team you have put together. When your staff can call up your billing company and say, “How can we help you do your job easier?” or the billing company calls your staff and asks, “What information can we provide to you that will allow you to provide us with the necessary requests?” this shows tremendous growth, and you will only reap the benefits.
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