Unpaid claims are a fact of life for many medical practices. Unfortunately, the longer patient bills remain uncollected, the less valuable the receivable becomes to the practice. Keeping the percentage of unpaid patient bills to a minimum should be a priority for all physicians.
Your practice can take a variety of steps toward greater profitability, including speeding up collections and minimizing the denial of claims. It should also focus on cleaning up and writing off old claims.
Develop Accurate Reporting Procedures
Your practice should have procedures in place that generate up-to-date information on the status of each outstanding account. Your accounting staff should have a report that includes the date each bill was sent, the current balance, and the number of days delinquent.
Using the information on that list, your staff should contact delinquent patients on a predetermined schedule. However, you should also consider sending out fewer notices before past due accounts are sent to a collection agency.
Require Payments Up Front
Whenever possible, have your front desk staff collect patient copays, deductibles, and prepays at the time of service. Make paying up front easier for patients by accepting debit and credit card — and possibly even online — payments.
Focus on Accurate Coding
Since coding errors are the source of most denied claims, training staff to focus on accuracy in coding should be a priority. In addition, the submission of “clean” claims within a certain number of days after a service is rendered should be a goal of your staff.
Review and Write Off Old Receivables
Review your accounts receivable. You’ll probably discover that, for certain accounts, your practice loses money every time it generates statements, considering labor costs, postage costs, and envelopes. Write off accounts that are not worth pursuing because they are either too old or are for small amounts. And consider writing off other accounts that seemingly never will be paid because your office failed to send the bill in a timely manner or because the patient did not obtain the correct referral for the services your practice provided.
We can help your practice implement procedures that can reduce the number of uncollected bills. Please contact us for more information.