Leaving the Status Quo Behind…
Billing and scheduling software for healthcare environments often fails to capture the rich relationships and synergies that can exist between scheduling workflow and the medical revenue cycle. There is often a tendency, both with designers of billing and scheduling software and often in the operation of many healthcare businesses, to see scheduling processes as “front office” and revenue cycle processes as “back office”. The impact of ACA and high deductible health plans (HDHPs) serves to highlight the importance of seeing the front desk as more than a place to process credit cards and book a follow-up, however. Here are a few ways that, when designed properly, billing and scheduling software solutions can bridge the gap between your front desk and your billing office:
Eligibility Checking – Measure Twice
While eligibility checking is often seen purely as a part of the patient registration process, with high deductible health plans seeing an average annual growth rate of 15% according to the 2014 AHIP/ABA HSA Census and high rates of enrollment in high-deductible Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans, the patient schedule is the perfect place for a “last minute” check of patient eligibility and unmet deductibles prior to an encounter. In addition to registration-time checks intended to confirm coverage, if your patient scheduling software has integrated batch eligibility checking, you can easily run a batch eligibility check prior to making appointment confirmation calls, reminding patients with a large unmet deductible or co-payment that a balance is likely to be due at the time of service and familiarizing them with payment alternatives. This leads us to…
Running Credit Cards from the Schedule?
That’s right. When evaluating billing and scheduling software, most practices overlook the importance of being able to capture copay and estimated deductible payments at the time of service. Although estimating deductible payments due at the time of service requires a proactive approach to the revenue cycle (more on that in a future post), you should be ready and able to capture payments at the time of service based on the best information available regarding patient responsibility even if the encounter hasn’t been posted by the billing department. Capturing a patient payment (for later posting against services rendered) can be accomplished in seconds from the patient schedule in properly-design scheduling software and can save even small practices many thousands in uncollected patient balances per year.
The Schedule as a Billing Tool
The scheduling component of your billing and scheduling software can be the perfect posting queue for the billing department (if properly designed). Color-coded views created specifically for the billing department (where, for example, charged-out visits are green), when combined with one-click charge creation from the schedule, can allow the billing department and practice manager alike to see at-a-glance whether all patient encounters that have been checked out have also been billed, while also knowing at a glance how many no-shows and walk-outs graced the day’s schedule.
Everyone is a Revenue Cycle Specialist
Synergies between the front-desk and back-office features of your billing and scheduling software, and the blurring of the lines between them, can result in staff working more easily, increased visibility of patient responsibilities at the time of service, and an improved revenue cycle. Whether scheduling appointments or posting charges, all staff members need the tools to become revenue cycle specialists in the modern practice.