Opinion: 3 Ways to Improve Doctor’s Office Cash Flow
If your medical practice looks like most, your business model is based on credit. You provide services to patients with the expectation that they will pay you later.
Most patients rely on their insurance company to help them pay. With the sometimes complex and confusing procedures required by insurance companies, refusals, underpayments, and lost or ignored claims can arise.
Any of these delays in receiving your payment can create significant cash flow issues, even for the best performing practices.
Filing and remitting claims electronically can do part of the job, but these three tips can help remove bottlenecks in your practice’s cash flow pipeline and increase operational efficiency.
- Bill patients faster. Faced with rising costs, many health insurance plans have increased deductibles, making patients responsible for a greater portion of their ongoing health care expenses. Unable to accurately predict these reimbursable expenses, medical offices typically wait to bill patients until they receive reimbursement from their insurance. The process gets even longer when patients delay paying these bills, unconvinced that they are truly “final”.
There is a better way. By tapping into payers’ systems, medical offices can assess a patient’s deductible status and accurately predict out-of-pocket expenses at the time of their visit. With this knowledge, they can discuss electronic payment methods and even obtain authorization to debit a patient’s credit card after the insurance claim is settled.
- Streamline repositories. Many banks are now offering solutions that allow medical practices to speed up the time it takes to get payments to their bank accounts. In addition to improving cash flow, these technologies also improve staff productivity and significantly reduce the threat of fraud.
- PO Box Services allow a firm to collect incoming payments at a secure PO Box and transport them to a bank for processing and deposit, eliminating the need for employees to manage incoming checks. Funds processed through a PO Box will be deposited faster and more securely.
- Remote deposit allows a firm to deposit checks into a bank account from their office by scanning a digital image of a check into a computer and then transmitting the image to the bank.
- A merchant services program from a reputable bank should get you next day funding for your deposits.
- Simplify the database. Once the funds are deposited into your account, medical staff should still take the time to manually record them in their practice’s accounts receivable database. As for the complaints and the explanation of the benefits associated with these reimbursements, they are tracked in their own separate databases.
It is now possible to combine the three functions in a common database using new solutions available from certain financial institutions. New technologies allow banks to receive both payments and copies of patient claims from insurers, and from these they can create electronic EOBs, also known as 835s, customized to respond to patient claims. needs of a cabinet.
An interface allows information from this single electronic database to be simultaneously recorded in customer accounts, thereby automating a generally manual and tedious process.
These solutions, along with other emerging solutions, do more than improve cash flow. They reduce the demands on administrators and also improve accuracy. This means more time can be spent on what medical practices do best: providing excellent patient care.
Dana Ausburn is Vice President of Commerce Bank. She can be contacted at [email protected]