More Money in the Bank: Best Practices for Improving Your Practice A/R

Well-run practices watch their collections like hawks. The financial health of your practice is directly correlated with your A/R numbers. How can you bring in the most cash? How can you collect the most amount of money with the least amount of time and effort? These are questions your practice needs to think about when addressing A/R numbers. Below are tips to help you improve your practice A/R.

  • Enforce practice financial policies.  Make sure your practice has a written financial policy in place that clearly defines a patient’s financial responsibility and delineates staff responsibility in collecting fees. Once you have established written policies for collections with your patients, make sure your staff is enforcing them. Do now allow exceptions.
  • Do not extend credit to patients.  Have patients pay their share in advance or as they go. It’s important to give them payment options. Accept cash and credit card payments. Give discounts to cash patients. If necessary make them charity cases or refer them out. Do not become a credit company.
  • Solve collection problems in advance with financial policy agreements.  Give each patient a financial policy to sign so they understand their payment obligations. By letting patients know up front what’s expected of them, and educating your staff on the policies and procedures to follow, you can plug the financial drain that nonpaying patient’s put on your practice.
  • Never avoid money discussions.  Talking to patients about money should be as easy as talking to them about their health or their families. Discussing and resolving money issues is important if you care about the patient’s well-being. Don’t allow a patient’s financial issue stop a needed procedure.
  • Manage collections by the numbers.  Monitor your billing staff productivity with reporting available through your practice management system. Set quota targets and reward improved performance. Your billing and collections staff should know the priorities of the practice to collect the most money possible.
  • Give insurance companies no slack.  The longer an insurance company can hold onto your reimbursements, they more money they make. Start with clean claims and make sure your patient data is accurate. Include medical records or other documentation that you know the insurance company will want. Fight every denial through phone calls and correspondence with the insurance company.



Boosting Patient Collections Up Front

With rising out of pocket costs in the healthcare system, the shift to patient financial responsibility is increasing. A Kaiser Family Foundation found the average deductible increased 32% from 2009 to 2014. Educating front desk staff, insurance verification, and a clear office financial policy are important components in collecting payments up front. Any of these small tweaks can make a positive impact to the overall financial health of your practice.  

  • Communicating with patients about their insurance coverage is an integral part of collecting fees up front. Staff should be checking insurance eligibility 24-48 hours prior to the patients visit. Train your staff to ask the patient if they have a new insurance policy. Don’t rely on the patient to let you know what their current coverage is. Be sure you are making a copy of all insurance cards to make the billing process efficient.

  • Have a financial policy. Make financial policies clear-cut and specific. Proper communication helps set the right expectations between the patient and staff. Collections, co-payments, and other payment policies must be in terms that are easily understood. To ensure effective financial policies, staff should be properly trained and understand what is expected of them. At the end of the day you are running a business and the financial health of your practice is crucial.

  • Provide price transparency and collect a pre-surgical deposit. Giving patients figures and data will help them determine how they can pay for their care. Offer payment options such as credit cards and Care Credit. Make sure you have verified with the insurance company whether pre-authorization is required for surgery.

  • All co-payments and fees for non-covered services should be collected up front at the time of service. Collecting prior to the visit reduces headache at the end of the visit. When calling patients for their appointment reminder, let them know they need to be prepared to pay their co-payments, deductibles, non-covered services such as refractions, and all past due balances. With rising out of pocket costs, the number of patients who have balances after their insurance processes the claim is increasing. If you do not have proper billing and collection processes in place, your accounts receivable will increase. As your accounts receivable ages, the possibility of collecting money decreases.

Mastering ICD-10: Diabetic Retinopathy and AMD

Have you mastered the latest ICD-10 codes for Diabetic Retinopathy and AMD? If you haven’t don’t fear, Eye Med Management Solutions to the rescue! The tables below include the coding for nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR), proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

It’s important to remember that laterality is now a component in selecting a code. It’s crucial to select the appropriate eye - no, not indeterminate! – for getting reimbursed appropriately from the insurance carriers. The number 1 signifies the right eye, 2 the left eye, and 3 for bilateral.

Type 1 diabetes codes have stayed the same beginning with E10, and E11 for type 2 diabetes. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes codes do not have laterality.

New Medicare Cards

Doctors, be on the lookout for new Medicare cards starting in April. Medicare is issuing new cards for all patients in an effort to keep patient information more secure. The cards will look the same however instead of a social security number, each patient will have a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) to protect identity and keep sensitive information safe. Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.

Medicare will start mailing cards in April 2018 all the way through April 2019. Yes, an entire year! Since mailing out the new Medicare cards will be a lengthy process, many patients may not receive their new MBI for a year. In this instance, you can still bill with the patient’s social security number.

Medicare is planning a wide-scale outreach that will inform beneficiaries to bring their new Medicare cards into the office and share them when they get medical care. Make sure your front desk is reminding your patients to bring their new Medicare cards to their appointments.  It is imperative to have the correct information for billing accuracy.


San Diego Lilac Fire

Just before Christmas fires broke out throughout California and affected many of us at Eye Med Management. The Lilac Fire in San Diego County was less than a mile away from our office and prompted a voluntary evacuation. Luckily for us the winds were in our favor that day and we were out of harms way. The firefighters, police officers, and emergency responders did an AMAZING job containing the fire in a short period of time, saving thousands of lives, homes, and structures. To show our appreciation we put on our aprons and cooked them up a delicious, hearty, home cooked meal of chicken divan! Thank you to Cal Fire, San Diego County Fire, San Diego County Sheriffs, and all the other first responders and volunteers!