How to win at billing
In today’s ever more competitive environment, it is important to continually review and improve your practice. Simon Brignall shares ten simple rules to follow to ensure that your practice stays ahead of the pack
1. Regularly review the way your practice is billing your work. This is to ensure you remain compliant with the ever-changing rules and regulations from private medical insurers and that you understand the implications that these could have on your income. A good example of this is that a lot more insurance companies are enforcing the six-month deadline for submitting your invoices. This means you could miss out on income if you fall behind on your billing
2. Make sure your practice keeps up to date with the latest changes to Clinical Coding and Schedule Development group (CCSD) codes for your specialty and how the insurers have chosen to deal with these.
3. Take the time to review your fees on a regular basis. This is particularly important if you bill to insurance guidelines, as these are changing all the time. The current trend towards consolidation in the private medical insurance sector has meant that the price list of the insurance company that acquires the medical insurance business of another company are often introduced to replace their existing arrangements.
4. Make sure that your work is invoiced in a timely manner. This will ensure you have consistent cash flow and will assist with your debt reduction. There is also the additional benefit that any billing issues are picked up more quickly. Remember that the invoicing process is a reflection of the professionalism of your practice.
5. Ensure that your fee structure is transparent. Whatever pricing structure is in place for your practice, check that it is clear and that your patients are made aware of it before commencing treatment. This is very important in the current climate with the drive to more transparency around fees. There is also a benefit from a billing perspective, as there is no room for ambiguity when it comes to settling the bill.
6. Implement a robust process for chasing outstanding invoices on a consistent basis and make sure it is adhered to. Designate someone to take ownership of this task so that you can be confident that it is being carried out in a routine and timely manner. In our experience, this is the only way to ensure that your invoices are paid in full and to make sure that you manage both your aged and bad debt.
7. The practice should have good visibility around its aged debt. You should be aware of who the problem payers are so that you can decide if you want to continue treating them while they still have outstanding invoices, as this could potentially be making the problem worse.
8. Check that you have access to good management information on the practice and take the time to review it. This should include data on where your patients are referred from, as well as what percentage of your new patients come from each private medical insurer, self-pay, embassies, solicitors and other payees. This will allow you to make informed decisions about your practice for the future. Practices are evolving all the time and it easy to make the wrong decisions based on out-of-date data or incorrect assumptions.
9. Consider time and task management. Has your practice grown beyond your current arrangements? Are you spending too much time on tasks that can be or should be done by someone else? Successful consultants spend as much time as possible focusing on their core skill set – which is treating and looking after patients – to maximise their income.
10. If you feel that your practice is weak in any of the areas that I have outlined, then you need to decide what action to take and consider if you should outsource this crucial element of your practice to a professional billing company instead.
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