Due to the influx of patients and the need for social distancing to avoid the spread of COVID-19, people are advised to utilize telehealth services. 5 payers have decided to waive telehealth services.
Your billing process begins at the scheduling stage. Since the scheduling stage is the first point of contact, it is the first opportunity to assemble the needed data for the billing stage, if the information isn’t collected or accurate, then there will be no way to bill. Your staff need to be aware of all the information they are required to collect from the patients. Usually it helps to have a checklist for the staff to follow to ensure all patient information is collected. It is imperative that the staff collect as much information as possible in this initial phone call. Taking the time to take down patient demographics and insurance can save time, allowing for better accuracy.
Additionally, any existing patients’ information should be checked and verified at the time of their call. Confirming existing patients’ info and that insurance has not changed will prevent issues during the billing process. Before your staff finishes the call with the patient ensure they gather all their current contact information, concerns, insurance information and then proceed to provide them with any pre-visit paperwork. It is important that your staff explains what the patient needs to bring to the appointment, and the potential copay or payment that is expected at the time of the appointment. Here may be a great opportunity to ask the patient for credit card information to put on file to allow for easy billing for co-pays. This not only can be a convenience for the patient, but a safety for your practice to ensure there is one way to collect payment. If the patient does not wish to provide the information over the phone, be sure to include a section in their pre-visit paperwork where they can provide this information.
A federal grant will be issued to University of Alabama to study if telehealth can be used to increase diagnosis and treatments of eye diseases in rural and under-served populations.
Did you know, on average patient no shows can cost the healthcare industry up to $150 billion annually? That is an immense waste of money that could contribute to more beneficial areas for the healthcare industry. Each missed appointment for a practice is lost money, which means there needs to be a solution for missing income. Some practices find it beneficial to have a fee charged to those who miss appointments to recoup some of the lost income. However, if there is a way to minimize the amount of missed appointments, then there is a better chance for increasing income. Starting with the beginning of the process, if scheduling is done well and pre-registration is completed, and the staff follow up with appointment reminders there is a higher probability that somewhere in those parts of the process the patient will cancel is needed.
One of the top reasons for no shows is due to fear of payment. If prior to the appointment the patient knows exactly what they will owe after insurance, then they will more likely be willing to attend the appointment or reschedule for another time. Unfortunately, the number one reason for no shows is forgetfulness. Therefore, the appointment reminder phone call is important. The patient is more likely to cancel or remember to arrive for the appointment. Lastly, your practice should allow for cancellations, but there needs to be a cancellation policy in place. Patients should have ease of access to cancel through a patient portal, or the ability to call to cancel and know their call will be answered. Patients should be given a certain time frame in which they can cancel without penalty or reschedule. Take the time to review how your practice handles no shows, and from there find the areas for improvement, your cash-flow may depend on it.
With the ubiquity of social media and the ease of global connected-ness, it’s easy to think that long wait times are not a nuisance to patients. After all, the vast majority of people these days seem content spending time with their smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
Let’s face it—today’s patients are flighty. They’re significantly more likely to switch practices than patients of just a few decades ago. In fact, experts estimate that one in three medical patients will leave their current provider within the next couple of years. A surprisingly large number of these are not switching due to insurance change or a household move, but because of unmet expectations. Driven by the experiences they’ve had in other industries, patients are looking for innovations and advances in their patient experience. Unfortunately, many providers are failing to meet these expectations.