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Preserving practice revenues in a multitasking world

June 06, 2017
Health IT Revenue Management
From the June 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Kellye Sherbet

Anyone who has ever worked in a physician office knows that multitasking isn’t just a “nice-to-have” skill: it’s an essential requirement.

At any one moment, you might be scheduling a patient, locating a proper billing code for a physician and running the latest A/R report.

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Unfortunately, most of us aren’t as good at multitasking as we think. In fact, only about 2 percent of the population is considered good multitaskers. For the rest of us, multitasking actually decreases our productivity, by as much as 40 percent.

As someone who has spent most of my career working with physician offices, I am very familiar with the endless interruptions and task-juggling that staff face on a daily basis. While many people might find such an atmosphere exhilarating, the reality is that productivity does indeed take a hit when staff must constantly start and stop different tasks. And, if the individuals who are multitasking are responsible for billing and collections, the financial security of the practice could very well be at risk.

Nothing is more crucial to the long-term viability of a practice than effective billing and collections. Often the staff that handles these tasks are also responsible for other vital activities, such as scheduling, answering phones or managing the practice. When employees are stretched too thin, it’s easy for certain financial tasks to fall through the cracks.

For example, most practices have little difficulty collecting about 80 percent of the monies due from insurance and patients. The last 20 percent, however, requires more time and dedicated resources to uncover the reasons for claim rejections or why a patient hasn’t paid their portion of a bill. If staff is unable to make billing and collections a top priority, the practice may end up leaving a good portion of its revenue on the table.

Providers, especially those in small to medium-size practices, can rarely afford to dedicate staff solely to revenue cycle management (RCM) activities, especially in the face of shrinking reimbursements and rising overhead costs. For practices that are committed to maximizing their revenues, but struggle with resources, one alternative is to partner with a professional RCM company.

By partnering with an RCM company, practices can remain focused on the delivery of safe and effective patient care, while delegating billing and collection responsibilities to individuals who are highly trained and credentialed. Though not all RCM companies offer the same level of service and expertise, most reputable organizations are staffed by experienced billers, including certified coders, and are able to collect more money in less time than the average practice.

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