The benefits of thoughtfully applied technology have been recognized by healthcare industry leaders for years. Technology can help enhance the patient experience, improve the efficiency of office staff, and increase collections. In today’s environment, the need to socially distance and reduce physical contact has only further proven the value of appropriate technology. It can make it easier to realize revenue, while improving communication with patients and peers alike.
One of the first steps you can take to be sure that you are getting the most from using technology to help increase collections is to determine whether your technology is up-to-date. If your practice management (PM) system is cloud-based, your systems are likely to upgrade to the latest versions automatically. If they don’t, or you have held back on clicking the “update” button, now may be the time to take advantage of new features and functionality. Additionally, there are add-on products available in many cases, so stay in contact with your vendor to ensure you have access to the latest offerings available.
As you deploy new technologies, you may need to adjust your process for the various roles in your organization. Communicate changes with your staff, and allow the time required to make the necessary improvements. Especially if your practice has slowed during the COVID-19 pandemic, utilize the time to fine-tune your systems to gain efficiencies and improve collections for years to come.
One critical workflow change that practices can make is to prioritize and optimize eligibility checking. Those who have changed or lost insurance during the pandemic may have different coverage than they previously held. Schedulers should complete an eligibility check when booking the appointment and then again via the batch method that your system offers a few days before they come in. Increased transparency can improve patient loyalty. Some practice management software can alert patients as to how much they are financially responsible for, and your business can better ensure full payment from payers for services rendered.
“For those practices that temporarily closed or are seeing fewer patients now than they were before the pandemic, improving collections has to be even more top of mind to ensure you capture every dollar,” said Laurie Morgan, practice management consultant with Capko & Morgan.
Collecting intake forms via your patient portal is one way to reduce contact and help reassure your patients. A modern web portal enables you to obtain current information in advance of patient visits and allows automatic confirmation of eligibility. There is a significantly lower risk of clerical errors since staff do not have to enter hand-written information from a paper form that can be difficult to read. Using a web portal eliminates the need to use a clipboard or tablet previously touched by others. Instead, patients can update their information and check themselves in for their appointment, using their own device.
Another way to reduce contact is to offer online, secure payment methods for touchless, automatic payment. Consumers have come to expect this in their daily lives and extending that convenience to medical billing is a logical next step. This convenience often translates to payments being received more promptly and reliably for your business. Another beneficial automation is providing the ability for patients to pay online. A Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliant solution ensures the patient’s credit card information is stored in a safe, secure, and encrypted format.
“It is essential to enable your patients to pay online,” said Morgan. “If you’re continuing to send out multiple paper statements, you really are making it harder for your patients, and you’re also making it more expensive for your business.”
A practice management system that integrates directly with your electronic health record (EHR) allows for direct synchronization across your workspace. An important aspect is to explore automations your PM system has implemented with respect to billing. Many systems automatically send claims to the clearinghouse once that claim has been triggered by the signing of the note in the EHR.
“Automation can save a lot of time and allow you to collect more easily and get you paid much more quickly,” said Morgan. “In some cases, the system can send claims to the clearinghouse at the end of the day, allowing them to be processed as quickly as possible.”
For more information on current technology trends and other ways healthcare professionals can position themselves for profitability and sustainability as businesses reopen, view Laurie Morgan’s full webinar now, 5 ways to help your practice thrive during the pandemic.