Billing and collections are a routine part of all medical setups. They are fairly straightforward and cumulatively done on a daily basis at all institutions. However, it can be a daunting task if not approached in an organised and systematic manner. Most physicians have a basic understanding of the procedure of billing, insurance claims and collections. Nowadays, billing a patient not only involves collecting money, it includes registration, checking eligibility for claims, collecting payments and sending insurance claims. It is important to make the entire procedure efficient and quicker so that more time can be spent focusing on the patient.

With hectic schedules attending patients and staying abreast of the latest medical updates, physicians also have to ensure that the business of medical practice is successful. Collecting payments is critical to maintain the revenue cycle. You must ensure that you have strategic and patient-friendly methods to bill your patients.

There are many ways to streamline medical billing, increase insurance claim approvals and making the entire process easier and stress free. With advanced technological innovations, physicians can smoothly run their medical practice. Here are some of the best billing practices to optimise your revenue cycle without added strain on your patients.

● Planning a strategic payment method

With an increasing number of uninsured patients, billing and collecting payments can become quite demanding and cumbersome. Proper communication between patient and provider should be established. All patients should be told about the entire expenses and costs prior to initiation of any service. Installing technology which can register patients electronically as well as check their eligibility for insurance automatically when the appointment is fixed can be a blessing. Inform patients about financial statements or any outstanding payments. Your entire staff should be well trained to fully utilize the software that you are installing.

● Flexible payment methods

This is equally important so as to avoid putting the entire burden on the patient at one time. Incentives should be given to advocate payment on time. Having an ATM close by would be immensely useful.

● Insurance and claims

From the very first appointment, it is important to collect all information regarding a patient’s coverage and claims. This helps reduce the number of rejected claims and the time wasted in the entire process as there is growing pressure not only on healthcare institutions, but also on patients with increasing medical expenses. Even healthcare insurances are increasingly expensive and become quite unaffordable for many patients.

● Patient friendly bills

Bills should be easy to comprehend so that it does not become confusing for the patient. Everything should be easily written or printed out on a bill. All queries regarding bills should be answered promptly by courteous staff.

● Online payments

Another alternative trend these days is making online payments. With increased use of technology for secure transactions, patients are quite comfortable with utilizing web services and expect to find all information regarding your clinic, billing and payment online. Thus, setting up a portal which helps patients review payments, outstanding balances, see payment plans and conveniently make payments by investing a small sum in setting up a website can be a boon for your setup. This helps reduce the cumbersome task of manual processing of all data and call centre or third party costs.

In today’s times, it is important to become accountable and run a medical practice like a CEO. Not only will your patients appreciate a smoother working, easier access and hassle free payments, but your cash flow and productivity will also boost significantly allowing you to see more patients. These easy and simple tips can help you in the long run and help in upholding high standards of delivering healthcare.

Contributed by Dr. Rachita Narsaria