- Billing Bootcamp Series -

The Importance of Effective Communication in Your Medical Practice

Editor's note: This is part two of a four part series on improving revenue cycle management in your medical practice. In case you missed it, check out part one, Why Patient Registration is So Important.

Good communication is crucial to the success of a medical practice. It's important that everyone in the practice has a clearly defined role and understands how they fit into the bigger picture. We recommend creating a detailed communication policy — and following it diligently. The policy should be clear and provide enough detail so that any staff member can reference it and know exactly who to speak with to resolve an issue.

Having a centralized workflow can help so that everyone knows exactly where to turn for the answers they need. Many times when there are problems with claims, it's because the biller doesn't have enough information. It's easy to get lost in phone calls and emails trying to sort that out. Eventually, it falls off your radar and those claims never get billed — costing your practice money.

We recommend using a centralized worklist so everyone in the practice — from the doctor to the biller — can see what's outstanding and make corrections. It's a great way to streamline the process and speed up how quickly providers are paid.

Simplify your workflow with practice management software

The right practice management software can make it easy for you to check eligibility, track authorization counts, verify address information, store copies of insurance cards, and allow you to securely collect patient payments online.

When you are evaluating a practice management software, make sure that you have all these features in place. If you already have a software, look for those features and ask the software company for these features.

Planning for a patient visit

Preparing for a patient visit well in advance can make the process easier for everyone. Start by verifying a patient's eligibility with primary and secondary insurance. Not all patients will have secondary insurance, but for those who do, there may be a copay, coinsurance, or deductible associated with it so it's important to verify that information each time.

How and when you choose to collect patient information can vary. Some practices may choose to collect this information at the time of service. Other offices may decide to bill their patients. Choose a workflow that works best for your practice and be sure to document it so everyone in the practice knows what steps to follow.

Sending appointment reminders

Remind patients of their appointment one to two days in advance. Most practice management solutions can automate this process. You can choose to communicate appointment information via email, text message, or both. You may also choose to call patients directly. We recommend asking patients how they prefer to be reminded about their appointment in order to provide the best possible patient experience.

When a patient checks in for their appointment, always ask for the latest insurance cards. If the patient has a copay, that should be collected at the time of service. If the current contract allows, you should also have the patient sign to acknowledge their responsibility for payments.

If the policy at your practice is that you will not bill a patient for anything under $10, but you want to have a credit card on file, get permission from the patient to add a credit card number to their patient record.

BEST PRACTICE: Never leave a credit card number on a piece of paper. Always enter it directly into your practice management software and encrypt it so nobody can see the full number.

Effective communication starts from the ground up and is reinforced by providers and office managers who lead by example. By making communication part of your organization's culture — everyone from front-desk staff to the care team — will be better equipped to provide quality patient care.

Thanks for reading! The next article in our Billing Bootcamp Series focuses on Rule-Based Procedure Coding. Stay tuned!

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