BILLING AND COLLECTIONKeep the cash flowing
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a surprise surge in private doctors’ billing and collection inquiries. Simon Brignall explains why
TO SAY that the Coronavirus crisis is proving challenging to many businesses is an understatement.
Staffing issues and cash flow difficulties are common worries to many business owners and the independent healthcare sector is no exception. As I write this, the situation is changing daily, but I thought it would be beneficial to give some insight into what Medical Billing and Collection (MBC) has experienced so far.
Most companies have a disaster recovery plan and we responded to the developing situation by ensuring it was enacted promptly. The fact that our software and systems are cloud-based, as is our VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone system, meant we could adapt to remote working without any drop in our service levels.
We partner with more than 1,200 private providers and we are seeing a disparity in the way their practices are being impacted. The situation can vary widely due to specialty, location and the type of patient they treat.
What has been most surprising is the number of inquiries we have continued to receive from all sectors of the market, including groups as well as independent consultants.
These have been from practices wanting to use this time constructively and address the long-term issues they were facing in this area but previously had struggled to find the time to solve the problem.
We have also had many approaches from practices where the advantages of outsourcing have been clearly illustrated to them in the current environment.
Inquiries have come from a range of practices and a range of sizes, from very active consultants and several large groups covering a range of specialties to specialists who have recently started as independent practitioners.
The common theme I hear is ‘we have been meaning to look at our billing issues and now seems the perfect time to get this put in place to ensure the practice is ready for when the sector is allowed to start to return to normal’.
With more practices joining us, we have had the opportunity to review them, highlight the specific problem areas and put steps in place to resolve these.
Here are some of the most common issues we have come across:
- Issues around pricing that have resulted in lost income;
- Delays in invoicing and chasing, leading to large outstanding debts;
- Lack of a 24/7 solution to allow patients to settle their invoices;
- Increasing cash flow issues due to the above.
And here is an insight on what we have been doing to help:
A group of surgeons we are currently taking on board had built up considerable bad debt.
The group was also having difficulties supplying reliable financial reporting to each consultant of their activity and accurately calculating the distribution of funds.
We were able to solve this, as at MBC we load all outstanding debt onto our system as backlog so that we can differentiate between new invoices and those raised previously by the practice.
We have been able to provide access to our software at either the group or consultant level. This enabled each consultant to utilise an array of financial reports, including specific reports on their backlog to allow them to monitor our success at collecting these funds.
We now supply the group with a simple ‘payment received’ report, broken down by consultant, which allows them to have a transparent and accurate process for distributing funds.
This means that as we resolve their aged debt issue, these additional funds are identified and distributed correctly.
Mental health specialists
I have had inquiries from consultants who specialise in mental health, who have adapted to remote consultations with their patients but were having issues around the invoicing of their self-pay patients.
At MBC, we invoice all self-pay patients by email with a link to a card portal that enables the patient to make payments 24/7. Patients are also able to easily pay multiple invoices at the same time, which is important due to the repeat nature of consultations in this field.
And we also implemented a system to collect payment in advance of the treatment that was tailored to the specific needs of the practice, resulting in much better cash flow without alienating the patients.
My advice to independent practitioners now is to use any spare time you may have to review the billing and collection of your practice and implement any changes required.
We are here to help and would be happy to provide the assistance you need to ensure your practice is in the best possible shape as we emerge from the current crisis.
On a personal note, I hope you and your families stay healthy and safe during these unprecedented times and, along with the rest of the nation, we would like to thank you all for your contribution in fighting this virus.
Simon Brignall is business development director at Medical Billing and Collection, providers of medical billing services to the independent healthcare sector
- 01494 763 999 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Medical Billing & Collection Connery House Repton Place Amersham Buckinghamshire HP7 9LP
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