How to Cash in on the Hidden A/R

ID-100303471Physician practice managers often struggle to keep up with billing and accounts receivable tasks in a timely manner.  Unfortunately, most radiology practices run in constant “catch up” mode, always behind with posting payments, sending claims, and correcting denials.  This leaves money on the table and out of your bank account.  Instead of leaving potential reimbursement to simply float in space, perhaps it’s time to take a new approach to your radiology billing procedures.

Take a Clue from Modern Manufacturing

Radiology billing can be related to the manufacturing process in many ways.  The raw materials are patient information and service reports.  These “materials” are assembled into a claim, which is sent to third party payers for reimbursement.  The rework in the manufacturing process resembles denied claims that need to be corrected, and manufacturing waste is akin to practice debt.  Finally, the result of both radiology billing and manufacturing systems is money in the bank.

Unlike modern manufacturing, though, most physician practices aren’t taking advantage of resources in a way that reduces the amount of rework and waste.  Evaluating the amount of time between service dates and charge posting dates is the best way to determine where your hidden A/R is, and to cash in on that resource.

Find Your Hidden Money

According to a Radiology Business Management Association article, calculating your hidden A/R is the first step toward maximizing your billing process and finding missing money.  To do this,

  • determine the average number of days that pass between each date of service and the corresponding charge posting, then
  • multiply that number by your average daily collections, and
  • sum the results.

This will give you an estimated value of your hidden A/R.  To include this in your actual A/R and track it based on gross charges,

  • do the same as above, but
  • substitute your average daily charges for your average daily collections.

Once you’ve measured the opportunity, it’s time to maximize it by reorganizing your billing procedures.    

Reimagine Your Billing Process

Why wait until tomorrow to do what can be done today?  While it may mean rearranging some of your systems, the result will be a greater flow of reimbursement for services rendered.  Consider these ideas to get started:

  • Minimize the use of paper;

  • Maximize the amount of tasks that are automated;

  • Employ qualified staff.

These three simple factors make a huge difference in your staff’s productivity.  Here’s how the process works, from patient visit to sending the claim.

  • Patient arrives, demographic information is gathered and transmitted to the radiology billing operation electronically.

  • Patient then enters the exam room and a study is completed.

  • Study is read by a radiologist as soon as possible after the patient visit.

  • The radiologist then dictates a report by using voice recognition technology.

  • The report is then signed by radiologist and instantly sent to the billing department.

  • Once received by the billing department, the report is immediately coded.

  • After coding has been completed, the claim gets edited and approved right away, so as to avoid denials that result from simple coding errors.

  • Once approved, the claim is submitted for payment.

Implementing a system such as the one above helps ensure that potential claim payments don’t get pushed aside, meaning you make the most of your resources and improve your reimbursement rates. 

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