How can you grow, serve more patients and keep your costs in check — all at the same time? In other words, how do you give great care and get paid every dollar you are owed? The following are 8 ways to grow your practice:

  • Know Your Numbers
  • Get Integrated
  •  Go Paperless
  • Be Mobile
  • Automate Your Billing
  • Collect Patient Payments
  • Shine Online
  • See Patients As Consumers
  • 1. Know Your Numbers Once you know where you are, then you can set goals to improve. The following are some industry standard best practices:

    • Less than 3 days from time of service to claim submission
    • Average days in A/R less than 40
    • 85-90% of claims paid in 45 days or less
    • No more than 15% of A/R over 120 days
    • Total unpaid claims less than 4%
    • Denial rate of 4% or less
    • Net collection rate of 96% or better

    By improving the overall efficiency in your practice through automation and mobility, you get to know the true health of your practice. Then, you can work to achieve metrics like these. 2. Get integrated Are you still logging into multiple systems to manage your practice? Or entering patient data more than once? Then you are probably losing time and money that could be more useful somewhere else. Do a complete data integration instead of using multiple systems. Choose an end-to-end platform that meets all your practice needs. You need a single patient database and the ability to manage your scheduling, billing, clinical documentation, patient communications, and practice marketing. 3. Go Paperless When it comes to being paperless, healthcare has been a little behind the rest of the other industries. Most people now receive and pay paperless bills and board planes with digital tickets. For better or worse, we communicate via text and email and not letters and postcards. The reason is that paperless is faster, more efficient, and cost effective. Most surveys show that patients have similar expectations of service from healthcare providers as they do from non-healthcare providers. To some degree that means changing with the times and moving into the digital age to meet their expectations. But it isn’t just about what patients want. Automating your practice will improve your bottom line. You can eliminate paper in almost every area of your practice and automate many common tasks, freeing staff to focus on the things that can’t be automated. From scheduling to Workers’ Comp claims to prescriptions to bank deposits, you can go paperless. You can reduce a wide range of tedious manual tasks like printing and mailing claims, duplicate data entry, and unnecessary phone calls. The financial benefits can be substantial. One study estimated that a practice that uses billing and EHR software can increase revenue by more than $30,000 a year per provider. Add text and email reminders and you can factor in another $25,000 in revenue per provider per year. Paper charts alone cost as much as $8 per chart. You can also cut your paper charting supply costs with a paperless EMR. Then there are all the time savings and efficiencies that are gained. When you automate tasks like claims submission or use electronic prescribing and lab ordering, you free staff to focus on more complex tasks like working denials. Only about one third of practices follow up on denials. The rest just let that money go. Your staff shouldn’t be printing and mailing claims or statements and answering unnecessary phone calls about prescriptions when they could be working denials and getting you paid. 4. Be Mobile Two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone. Most people use mobile devices every day to communicate with friends, make purchases, or find a restaurant. Your mobile device offers more than just convenience and entertainment. It can make your work life easier and more rewarding. Every member of your practice staff can now use mobile solutions to manage their workflow. Physicians can sit with patients and engage them in their visit as they quickly tap and swipe through a template or dictate on an iPad.  Not only does this end the age of swivel chair fatigue, it allows providers to look patients in the eye. You can easily show the patient a trending graph for blood pressure or BMI or watch a short video on a procedure. Mobile devices also allow physicians to manage tasks on the go. You can check things off your to-do list while moving between visits. No wonder physicians who use mobile EHRs report high satisfaction. For practice managers and billers, mobile allows anytime, anywhere access that enables them to work from virtually any location. In the same way a physician sometimes needs to access a chart when away from the office, administrative staff sometimes need to access financial information. Mobile allows them to do just that. 5. Billing Automation There are two things that keep your practice open—seeing patients and getting paid. And the truth is that getting paid has many challenges. From gathering the right information at scheduling to accurately coding the visit to tracking the claim, there are a lot of places where things can go wrong. Add to that the constant industry changes like ICD-10 and it can get pretty overwhelming. The more you can automate and use best practices, the better chance you have of getting paid quickly and correctly. Most physician practices agree that their billing and collections systems and processes need upgrading. The first step is to find a solution that can automate billing from end to end, eliminating as many places where errors occur as possible. Automate eligibility verification, use an EHR or electronic charge capture to submit an electronic superbill directly to your biller, scrub 100% of claims, and track claims from submission to payment. Using billing tasks and features like no-response claim tracking can help ensure that no claim goes unpaid or underpaid. To ensure accurate payments, keep fee schedules up to date and use electronic remittance advice to post payments electronically. Underpayments result in a 7% loss of net revenue for the average practice, but it doesn’t have to happen in your practice. If managing all this in-house has become too much of a burden, then consider outsourcing. A good billing service can provide skilled, highly trained billers who know your specialty and all the best practices to get you paid. 6. Collect from Patients Patient-due amounts now make up 35% or more of your practice A/R, but only one-third of patient dollars are being collected up front. Once a patient leaves your practice, your chances of collecting all that you’re owed goes down dramatically. After 90 days you will only collect 50%. Improving patient collections can have a big impact on your long term success. By collecting more up front and automating your collection process, you can significantly increase payments and reduce time in A/R. The ideal patient collections process should look something like this:

  • Create a patient financial policy and ask all patients to sign at their first visit and every year thereafter.
  • Verify eligibility at every visit, preferably, automatically.
  • Collect copays and any outstanding balances at check-in. If information is available to help collect deductibles, co-insurance, or an estimated payment, collect that as well.
  • Set up credit card on file to process payments up to an approved amount. For example, patients can sign an authorization for you to charge up to $150. Once the patient due amount is known, charge the card, and send an electronic receipt.
  • When credit card on file isn’t an option, send an electronic statement as soon as the patient due amount is known with a link to pay online. Automating patient collections, especially payments with credit card on file, can significantly reduce your cost of collections.
  • Some experts estimate that just credit card on file can reduce collection expenses to under 5% and reduce average days in A/R to <35.
  • 7. Online Reputation Whether you know it or not you already have an online reputation. You are listed on rating and review sites across the web. What those sites say and how you present yourself on the web are more important than ever. The majority of patients say they use online reviews to evaluate healthcare providers. Taking control of your online presence and learning how to shine online is critical to keeping your current patients and finding new ones. Here are 4 keys to maximize your online presence:

  • Create a website that is actionable and engaging. Patients are more loyal to a provider who offers a patient portal, and many patients say they want online scheduling and secure communication with their doctor.
  • Set up social media accounts to interact with patients outside the exam room. According to Forbes, some practices are gaining as much as 20% of their new patients from online publishing, including social media. You need to be there, and be active. Post regularly, respond to patient comments, and be sure you share reviews as well.
  • Claim your online listings and make sure they are accurate and up to date. In the old days, you had to do this manually, but today there are solutions that will do it for you. When you get your listings up to date, you improve your search rankings as well.
  • Generate more positive patient reviews online. No one likes to ask for reviews, especially not healthcare providers However, you need them to improve your search rankings and appeal to new patients who find you online. Using marketing automation software to follow up with all patients after their visit allows you ask for reviews and then syndicate positive reviews to multiple sites easily.
  • 8. Patients and Consumers What patients expect from a healthcare provider has changed dramatically in recent years. More than half of patients say they value great customer service in a healthcare provider. Many patients have indicated a preference for increased convenience and access through email and text communications, online scheduling, social media, and more. And these aren’t just things they think are nice, they would consider switching providers to get them. Luckily, enhancing patient engagement has benefits for your practice, too. Nearly half of patients would like to have online scheduling. Every appointment scheduled online eliminates a phone call into your practice, freeing staff to focus on the patients at the front desk. Reduce phone calls even more with secure electronic communication with patients. Saving time is great, but these features can also increase revenue. Patients want text and email reminders. Using them ensures patients show up for the care they need and reduces your no-shows by up to 50%. Preventing just one no-show a day results in $25,000 in revenue per year. You can improve the patient experience by providing the tools patients are looking for like online scheduling, email and text communications, a secure portal, and more. And it doesn’t have to be at a financial loss. If you aren’t sure this is really what your patients want, ask them. Patient surveys are a great way to gauge patient experience and satisfaction and make improvements to your practice. You might be surprised by what you learn and how that knowledge can impact your success.

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