Challenges in physician medical billing have changed.
From the impact of a pandemic, to shifts in government, to changes in patient demographics, practices have seen the factors that shape their physician billing services turn upside down in recent years. This means that many practices are in a position of playing “catch up” in their physician billing services. But while the path forward might be unclear, there are ways that practice revenue cycle leaders can make changes to remain healthy and align their physician billing strategy with modern challenges. Here is a look at the issues you face as well as how to get past them.
Modern Challenges Complicating Physician Billing Services
Post public health emergency, many practices are faced with an opportunity to assess the environment they’re functioning in for better understanding of how to move forward. Here are some key challenges to look out for at your practice .
Manual Processes Are Slowing You Down
Are you still relying on paper as the backbone of your physician billing services? Many practices are sending paper bills to their patients, despite the fact that under 10% of patients want to pay a bill using a paper check.
Beyond this, paper statements are often confusing for patients and don’t clearly communicate how much they’re owed. Manual processes slow down patient payments, with 70% saying it can take more than 30 days after a patient visit to collect. But paper isn’t only a problem with patients. Managing appeals via manual processes can slow down your cash flows from insurance companies as well.
You Aren’t Thinking Digital
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, technology for collection was a “nice to have”, but today, it’s a necessity. Surveys have found that as many as three out of four providers still use paper despite consumers wanting online payment at about the same rate. Unfortunately, 40% of providers believe that billing and collection practices have no impact on the patient experience.
If you aren’t open to using digital in both patient and payer collection in physician medical billing, you’re falling behind the curve and are missing out on revenue from patients and insurance companies.
You Don’t Understand Patient Payment Trends
High deductible health plans might have dropped in use between 2020 and 2021, but the deductibles themselves have increased. The same issues apply to traditional insurance where copays and deductibles are growing. Medical practices should be paying attention to hospital trends, where balances are getting higher, and patients are demonstrating increasing difficulty in meeting their financial obligations.
This is a challenge to physician medical billing, especially if you aren’t tracking trends and haven’t adjusted for changes to your approach to collections since before the pandemic.
How to Adjust Your Physician Billing Services
Now is an excellent time to look at your approach to physician medical billing and make changes that will sustain you even through future upheaval. Here are some places to start.
Ensuring Funds Are Available For Growth
As you move forward, you will have multiple decisions to make in terms of where to invest for growth and sustainability – and many of these will require financial investment. This means that your first step will be making room in your budget for potential future opportunities.
For example, this could include things like new practice management software, training for staff on how best to collect from commercial insurance, and bonuses to retain personnel who are the most effective and who will best support your practice as new challenges arise. Keep in mind that this is a long-term need. Modern challenges in physician medical billing will continue to evolve and to stay healthy, your practice will need to keep up on an ongoing basis.
Investing in People
There is an ever-increasing amount of technology available to help you get past manual processes and keep up with patient payment trends. But this doesn’t mean you can skip investing in people.
Your staff will need ongoing training on things like medical billing and coding, new technologies, process improvement, and maintaining a positive patient experience as you work to keep your practice healthy. This level of focus has to happen at the strategy level, with commitment from your practice to prioritize people from now on.
This is more than just an internal question. Many practices see benefits from expanding their access to trained staff who understand the specialized needs of their practice by partnering with external experts. Know that, as challenges become more complex, the less an individual practice will be able to handle physician billing services alone and the more they will need to consider solutions like outsourcing to access knowledge and flexible talent.
Attracting top leadership who are up to the task
Physician owners are often in a difficult position and sometimes, they aren’t really running their practices with a business mindset. This isn’t always a choice. They could very well be open to ideas to improve practice health, but don’t have the people underneath them that they need.
This is where strong leaders on the administrative side come in. As practice management becomes increasingly complex, practices will need leaders who are up to the task of today’s challenges, and not just those who have demonstrated past successes.
In today’s fast-changing environment, every practice needs access to a partner who understands physician billing services and can help them adapt multiple aspects of their business to meet the issues of the future. To learn how we can be that partnership for you, contact us today.
 B. Crotty, “4 Key payment trends impacting physician practices,” MJH Life Sciences, 23 November 2022. Available: https://www.physicianspractice.com/view/4-key-payment-trends-impacting-physician-practices.