As the healthcare industry moves toward ICD-10 and value-based reimbursements, providers need to be prepared for these changes and the potential impact they may have on revenue cycle management. It may be beneficial for healthcare clinics to tighten up their revenue cycle management practices ahead of these major shifts. Here are some ways to improve financial management:
1. Minimize the Need for Collections by Asking for Payment Upfront
An inefficient collections process can impede efforts to streamline revenue cycle management. Bad debt is becoming more common due to high-deductible plans, and physicians need to proactively manage these issues, according to Healthcare Finance News. Providers can't ignore bad debt because it could mean leaving a substantial amount of money on the table. However, it's important to take steps to minimize debt before it gets to that point. Improving upfront collections practices prevents medical bills from being sent to collections in the first place. Front-office staff members need to communicate financial obligations to patients ahead of time. Giving patients the tools to pay before they come in for treatment or at the point of service can improve upfront payment collections. However, this process can be challenging depending on the type of care.
2. Offer Payment Plans
Unpaid medical bills often arise when patients don't fully understand the statement or owe more than they expected. Estimating prices can help this, as well as offering payment plans. When patients know what to expect, they are more likely to pay in full. Maintaining a card on file can prevent bills from going unpaid for months.
3. Be Prepared for ICD-10
Currently, ICD-10 is set to take effect later this year, and many experts in the healthcare industry expect reimbursements to be temporarily delayed after the transition, Rev Cycle Intelligence reported. However, some providers have avoided preparations for ICD-10 coding because they expect the deadline to be extended again. Healthcare clinics can ensure a smoother transition by preparing now, which will most likely reduce the revenue cycle impacts in October. Accurate coding will prevent rejected claims, helping physicians get paid faster. Managing expenses ahead of ICD-10 implementation can also help providers handle a temporary decline in reimbursements.
4. Consider Patient Engagement
Many healthcare reforms will shift how physicians are reimbursed, and patient engagement will matter more, according to Insurance News Net. If a clinic is looking to make major changes to revenue cycle management practices, it's important to consider how it will impact patient engagement. The most successful revenue cycle tools may help a clinic increase engagement. Patient portals make it easier for physicians to communicate crucial medical information, billing details and share statements. These systems also help healthcare facilities track patient data, which will be important as reporting requirements change.
The healthcare industry is currently in a time of flux and providers need to determine how to manage their revenue cycles to be more adaptable.