We all strive to do what we can to shorten the revenue cycle—whether that’s simply making it easier for patients to pay their bills or helping them understand what they owe and why they owe it. But it’s not always the patient’s fault when the revenue cycle takes longer to close. Some very common errors can lead to patient billing mistakes, and those mistakes mean longer payment cycles. If you can avoid some of these errors, you can close some of the gaps in your revenue cycle.
Incomplete or Incorrect Patient Information
A lack of patient information—or worse, incorrect patient information—often leads to erroneous patient billing. An incorrect name, phone number, address, incorrect dates of procedures and tests, or incorrect line items for services rendered can impact how quickly a patient pays. If the bill is not correct, a whole cycle of correction and re-billing must occur before payment can be made. If the contact information is wrong, the patient might not even receive the bill to begin with. Before the patient leaves the facility, ask them to confirm all of the information you have on file, and get any information they may not have provided.
Out-of-Date Knowledge of Medical Billing Rules
Medical billing rules are constantly changing, like those outlined in the ICD10 diagnosis codes taking effect on October 1, 2015. Knowing and understanding the impact of these changes can be difficult especially when providers have to adapt quickly. These changes often require additional training, software updates, and other changes to make sure the accounts receivable department is acting in accordance with the rules. Ensuring staff members are well informed of any rule changes is an important first step in tackling this issue. Alternatively, an accounts receivable partner can help alleviate the pressure of understanding the constant revisions to the laws. These partners shoulder the responsibility of training their own employees on the changes to make sure they are knowledgeable about any updates or changes, taking the pressure off of providers and their representatives.
Appropriate and Timely Information Input
In some instances, patients are billed twice (or more), yet their latter bill doesn’t reflect payments they may have already made. This causes confusion on the patient’s end, resulting in more time spent by staff digging through records and double-checking to see that a payment was made. Making sure all payments are put into the system in a timely manner can correct this and improve the patient’s experience. The same can be said for any noteworthy information about the patient’s payments—for example, if they opt for a payment plan, this information should be apparent to anyone they interact with.
In the end, everyone is human and mistakes will occur. While the volume of bills can be overwhelming and constant changes to the law can cause confusion, meticulous review and careful note-taking can go a long way when it comes to your bottom line. If you’re struggling with these changes, consider working with an accounts receivable partner to clean things up.