There are a lot of important aspects to running a successful orthopedic practice, but your revenue cycle management is one of the most crucial. Simply put, your practice can't stay solvent without a robust plan in place to keep your annual income within a profitable margin.
One of the most important changes for practices to make is how they handle patient payments and general customer service. The traditional model of billing used in the past does not work well today. In that model, patients were sent a final bill only after their insurance paid their portion of the bill. That patient often had no way of knowing what their final bill would be in advance, and therefore, no way to budget.
That method relied on the fact that insurance carriers were responsible for a large portion of the final payment. It also relied on the fact that patients could reasonably afford each visit. Today's patient often needs to budget for their healthcare expenditures. They're now responsible for a much greater percentage out of pocket, which means that individual practices also more rely more heavily on the patient payment portion in order to thrive. All of these factors mean that your revenue cycle management approach should shift to use more of a traditional business model.
5 Ways to Improve Your Revenue Cycle Management Protocol
Here are a few of the key ways that orthopedic practices can markedly improve their revenue cycle management process:
- A Robust EHR System. Your EHR does more than house your patient records. A good system will let you get a detailed view of each step in your patient's journey, as well as an overall view of the practice's performance. Your EHR system helps to improve one-on-one treatment for patients, but it also means that your practice can stay better organized in all facets, from billing and coding, to follow up treatment plans.
- Front Office Care. Your front office staff is possibly the most important part of the equation in patient care. Customer service is integral to patient satisfaction, and that plays heavily to whether patients will return, how they rate your practice publicly, and often how quickly they manage their payments. Develop a front office protocol for your staff to follow to make sure that patients always see friendly, helpful service. Your front desk personnel may also be tasked with setting payment arrangements and answering any questions with regard to insurance. Train staff to make sure that patients have all the tools they need to understand billing, payments and their treatment plan.
- Patient Portal. A patient portal can help alleviate some of the responsibilities from the front office staff while giving patients the ability to control their records online. Many patients are accustomed to instant access from every type of service. Your portal can allow them to access records, send messages directly to their physician, schedule and confirm appointments, and make payments to outstanding balances.
- Bill and Payment Counseling Options. Not all patients will be comfortable with a patient portal. Some older patients may need more hands-on help with their accounts, and many patients often find billing confusing. For many patients, taking the time to explain their portion of bills and set up payment plans that meet their budget is an excellent customer service option for them that also reduces your time in waiting for payment.
- Streamlining Scheduling. Front office customer service and long wait times for appointments are two of the most common pain points for most practices. If you find that your patients are often waiting for a lengthy period of time, it may be time to consider revamping the way that you schedule patients. Options might include allowing patients to submit pre-appointment documentation through a patient portal or check-in online to save time at the front desk.
Of course, it goes without saying that excellent care is the highest priority in any practice. Patients are also increasingly worried about how they will afford well care and medical visits. Building a protocol of transparency and customer service can have an immediate impact on your revenue cycle.