Fiscal resolutions for a new decade
Setting the correct New Year’s resolutions for your business could ensure your practice is ready for the challenges a new decade may bring. Simon Brignall (below) suggests ten for independent practitioners to consider
A NEW YEAR, and especially one heralding a fresh decade, is a good time to reflect on oneself and what you have achieved as well as to introduce changes and set personal goals. Here are ten to follow:
1 I will review the way my work is being billed to ensure I am compliant with the rules and regulations communicated monthly from the Clinical Coding and Schedule Development group (CCSD).
Keep abreast of the CCSD’s monthly changes and establish if they affect your specialty and possibly your income.
Practices commonly make billing errors through being unaware of the changes. Also establish what rules each insurer adopts, because they can choose their own variants.
2I will ensure I regularly review my procedure fees.
This is important if you bill to insurance guidelines, because these constantly change and are not often communicated clearly. You could be charging less than you could or more than you should. Practices still make wrong assumptions, leading to issues with insurance companies or revenue losses.
3I will make sure my work is invoiced as soon as possible.
Some major insurers now enforce time limits for submitting invoices and if you miss the deadline, they will not pay.
Late invoices are also poor service to patients and a major contributor to their dissatisfaction and bad debts. Knowledge of any shortfall is delayed and patients assume the invoice has been settled, so there is then a bone of contention.
Late invoices sent direct to patients can be ignored if they think you are not serious about wanting payment.
4I will make sure that my price structure/policy is clear and that my patients are made aware of it before commencing treatment.
A clearly defined, well documented and communicated patient registration form is vital in the modern practice. It will ensure no room for ambiguity when it comes to settlement.
Fee and payment terms transparency is of paramount importance and also a key requirement of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
5I will ensure my practice has a robust process for chasing outstanding invoices on a consistent and continual basis until they are fully paid.
Failures in this important area mean continued high levels of bad debt. Almost every practice that joins Medical Billing and Collection (MBC) has an outstanding invoice backlog, with some going back years.
Debt levels are typically over 20% of turnover and sometimes have reached 50% of annual turnover. On average, we achieve bad debts of less than 0.5%. This is a huge difference.
6I will make myself aware of any bad payers so I can decide if I want to continue seeing them while they have outstanding invoices.
If you don’t do this, you will end up regularly throwing money away. Visibility around this key area means you can take steps to police this more effectively.
When we take on a backlog of outstanding invoices, there are often patients who have built up debt over years. Practices continued to see them despite never being paid.
7I will ensure I have key management information on my practice to allow me to make informed decisions for the future.
This vital area is mostly overlooked and can mean weekly losses. All practices should know where patients are being referred from, which insurers they are dealing with, how much income is self-pay and the most common procedure codes carried out.
Consultants should know financially what is happening to revenue generated each month in their practice, the same for payments received and what is happening with outstanding invoices.
Without this data, it is difficult to understand which direction your practice is going, as it is very easy to come to the wrong conclusions without real-time accurate data.
At MBC, we provide all the above data online 24/7 to assist you in running your practice.
“Take stock and consider what elements of your practice could be outsourced – enabling you to generate more revenue”
8I will make sure I spend as much time as possible focusing on my core skill set – treating and looking after the patient.
Running a private practice is not easy and many tasks do not fall naturally into a consultant’s skill set.
If you and your secretary focus on the medical side of the practice, this will, in turn, make you more money, because you are focused on what you do best rather than spending time on tasks that can be delegated.
Take stock and consider what elements of your practice could be outsourced – enabling you to generate more revenue.
9I will ensure I have a robust secure IT infrastructure in place to deal with my practice’s administration.
This can be a common weakness in many practices and is often only highlighted when it’s too late.
Enjoy the peace of mind that your business is on a secure platform and your data cannot be lost. A wide range of options can facilitate this, so it should not be difficult to implement.
10I will consider whether I should join thousands of other doctors who have outsourced this crucial element to a professional billing company.
For most consultants, the billing and collection is very difficult to manage and when done wrongly it often results in consistent financial losses.
Outsourcing could be the best decision you make this year to guarantee your practice is futureproofed for what lies ahead.
Simon Brignall is director of business development at Medical Billing and Collection
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