Health Care Billing: Back to Basics
Technology is being embraced by all sectors of our culture and the health care industry is no exception. Technology drives most of our daily operations and the “geeks” in IT make us feel like they are in control of our worlds. We carry smart phones like they are the life-lines of our lives, we embrace twitter as “the” method of communication, and Facebook has become the definer of our identity. Our emails fill up daily and most of our awake moments are spent in front of a computer of one kind or another.
Now we are all focused on ICD 10 and the changes that will bring to all our coding and billing operations, and everyone is scrambling to figure out what “meaningful use” of the EHR really means to the daily work flow of the providers of health care. Health care reform and ACO’s have motivated literally thousands of providers to align their practices directly with hospitals to both take advantage of hospital capital and technology, and secure their financial future.
But what will really drive financial security, whether aligned with a hospital, in a large multi-specialty practice or a lone physician practice is accounts receivables. We have purchased sophisticated software that has touted we can manage accounts almost hands free and yet the biggest question every health care CEO is asking is where’s the money?
Getting back to the basics of credits and debits…….managing accounts, not simply working claims in a queue is what is called for. We need to invest in training of competent persons to understand and think while looking at accounts and bringing them to a zero balance. We need to actively work and analyze the hundreds of reports we now have access to and breakdown those numbers to a clear and straightforward strategic plan to predict and ensure cash flow.
“Change” is here to stay, and clearly more change is inevitable. How we plan for and incorporate change will make or break many practices. Regardless of the changes coming, how we cost effectively and accurately produce charges and manage the denial/payment of those charges will continue to be the single most important dynamic on the business side of every health care practice. The business of health care has driven health care for many years and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.
So get back to basics, control aging of AR, learn the carrier rules and live by them. Analyze reports, trend denials, clean up AR and hire people who are passionate about accuracy and strategic thinking. Practice accountability at every level that compels excellence. Communicate with practices what’s working and what’s not working, treat patients like valued customers who will return not only because they have received excellent care, but also because the billing of their visits has been done accurately, timely and efficiently.
While technology provides us with great tools to use, we need people who understand AR and have the capacity to use technology to work smarter.