Reducing claim denials has long been a challenge for providers. In the worst case, denied claims end up as unexpected—and sometimes unaffordable—bills for patients. The challenge only seems to be growing. A recent survey conducted by the American Hospital Association (AHA) found that 89% of respondents had seen a noticeable increase in denials over the past three years, with 51% describing the increase as “significant.”
Minimizing loss will be top of mind for providers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put a strain on their resources, and minimizing or preventing denials will need to be a core part of that strategy. With that in mind, we’re offering four tips to help guide revenue cycle strategies for better denial reduction in 2021.
1. Analyze and Assess
In order to achieve and maintain a healthier denial rate, it’s vital to have a good handle on the factors creating problems in the first place. Keep the following in mind as you start to structure your analysis:
- Review key performance indicators: Take a look at which metrics are being used to benchmark success or failure and see if it’s time for a refresh
- Evaluate workflows: It’s important to have a clear understanding of how your team operates, and that you can detail workflows as step-by-step processes
- Assess tools: Inventory the software you’re using and discuss with your team how it helps or hinders them
- Staff efficiency: Consider the number of team members and resources involved in each step of the denial management process
It’s also important to talk to staff. Your team can offer invaluable insight on what is and isn’t working to help you develop a more comprehensive understanding of the shape and scope of the systemic issues contributing to your denial rate.
2. Reduce Errors Upfront
Eligibility, registration, and authorization errors remain the greatest cause of denials and write-offs, so a good first step is to focus on being proactive instead of reactive. Often, it’s easy to get into a routine where errors are only addressed after they occur. But incorporating tech to verify coverage and benefit accuracy in advance can lead to higher efficiency and much less manual labor spent to correct those issues later on.
Similarly, a recent AHA report found a failure to obtain prior authorization to be one of the most common reasons for a claim to be denied by a commercial health plan. In another recent survey, the American Medical Association found that 86% of providers surveyed were struggling with a high administrative burden created by prior authorizations.
Recent innovations have made the process simpler than ever. The right prior authorization solution can automate the process and make it simpler, smarter, and much less labor-intensive, reducing manual input errors and preventing denials.
3. Cut Down on Manual Labor
Claim denials are often the result of staff trying to keep track of a seemingly overwhelming number of rules and regulations while juggling various systems and filing requirements. When your staff is overburdened, it’s that much easier for them to make simple errors or miss deadlines.
There are numerous tools available for teams who are either struggling with paper-based processes or databases without automation. With an AI-powered solution, you can streamline a number of time-consuming tasks while simultaneously automatically ensuring you’re identifying missing data or claim errors that can be corrected before they’re submitted.
It’s also a good idea to review any potential new tools with your team. Their insight will help you properly determine which solutions will actually improve their workflows, and which could prove an expensive time sink.
4. Use Stronger Reporting Tools
Accurate and in-depth reporting should be core to your strategy. Effective reporting tools let you quantify and assess the issues that influence your denial rate, allowing you to easily spot persistent workflow errors or other systemic problems that can create extra work or strain resources.
New tools powered by AI and machine learning offer more robust reporting options than ever, with advanced analytics and visualization capabilities that make it easy to explore complex data sets or identify trends. Mountains of information can now be easily managed and measured, giving you access to operational insights that will help you better understand problem areas and identify opportunities for improvement.
With the right tools, a solid strategy, and expert guidance, you can take a proactive approach to reducing claim denials. Our automated tools make it easy for your team to streamline their workflows while reducing errors and administrative costs. With Hubble, our AI and RPA platform, you can unlock the insights you need to reduce your denial rate and increase cash flow.
Waystar, a partner of EZClaim, also offers a number of front-end solutions to help you take a more proactive approach to your denial rate. Click here to learn more about how Waystar can help you with reducing claim denials and claim management. For more information about Waystar’s platform, visit their website, or give them a call at 844.492.9782.
To find out more about EZClaim’s medical billing software, visit their website, e-mail their support team, or call them at 877.650-0904.
[ Contribution: Waystar ]
Do you have a fee schedule? If so, do you maintain it on a regular basis?
Well, this is an easy step to skip, but an annual review could put some extra cash in your pocket and help you keep a better handle on how much collectible money you have outstanding. Here are three things you should consider when creating or maintaining your fee schedule:
1. Mark Up the Charge Amount: Did you know that most payers will not pay you more than what you charge, even if you charge less than the allowed amount? They will accept whatever charge amount you have and adjust the difference, but they won’t pay you more than you charge. This can really cost your practice!
2. Allowed Amounts Change: In addition to payers updating the allowed amount for services, many insurances are offering incentive-based programs you may be eligible to collect a percentage over the allowed amount! If you are basing your charge amount on the payer’s allowed amount you may never see the incentive money that you have earned! Even a small percentage can add up quickly!
3. Decide on an Amount: If you aren’t sure where to start, consider setting your charge amounts based on the Medicare allowed amounts. Using 150% of the Medicare allowed amounts is a fairly standard starting point.
In addition to keeping the fee schedule current, make sure to monitor Allowed Amount and Paid Amount on a monthly basis. If you find that you are collecting the full allowed amount, it is time to increase the charge amount so you don’t leave money on the table!
If you need help getting started, consider working with a consultant. At RCM Insight, we offer annual fee schedule reviews. During the month of February 2021, we will be offering four practices a FREE fee schedule review, so visit our website at www.rcminsight.com and visit the CONTACT US page for your chance to win!
RCM Insight uses EZClaim’s medical billing software for their billing services. For more details about EZClaim’s medical billing solutions, visit their website, e-mail their support team, or call them at 877.650.0904.
[ Contribution: Stephanie Cremeans with RCM Insight ]
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the need for mental health resources as illness, job losses, and isolation continues to create unprecedented stress levels. According to recent surveys conducted by the Larry A. Green Center, more than half of clinicians reported declining health among patients due to closed facilities and delayed care, and more than one-third noted that patients with chronic conditions were in noticeably worse health as a result. Even more striking, over 85 percent reported a decline in inpatient mental health with 31 percent seeing a rise in addiction.
With mental health access at the forefront of our minds, there is no doubt a demand for qualified professionals that can handle these complex patient needs. While the sense of urgency for these services exists, especially as more and more healthcare consumers are resuming in-person appointments, unfortunately, there are processes in place that can create unnecessary roadblocks for practitioners.
Complying with the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare’s (CAQH) behavioral health credentialing requirements are especially challenging. Unlike traditional medicine, treatments and therapies for conditions such as addiction are not as well understood by payers. This makes it more difficult to gain or maintain the credentials necessary to submit claims for therapy services.
Ninety percent of the time counselors and therapists apply for network status are denied! That’s a striking statistic, even for seasoned professionals, and everyone can agree that appealing denials and requesting payers review credentials in greater depth are a time consuming and expensive burden. On average, the time required for behavioral health credentialing of professionals is up to five times greater than for medical professionals because of nuances specific to the industry. The turnaround for completed enrollments is slower too, on average 180 days versus 120 days. In addition, some payers will only allow certain therapies for providers without advanced degrees. Because denials for behavioral health are common, therapists must understand which therapies a network will accept and focus on therapy-specific credentialing. In the current environment, practitioners should also ensure that Telehealth or virtual appointments will be covered for the safety of all.
So how can mental health providers stay ahead of enrollments and avoid credentialing-related denials? Outside assistance from experts like those at TriZetto Provider Solutions offers an end-to-end credentialing service that ensures continuous payer follow up and insight into enrollment status. Our credentialing professionals are devoted to helping providers gain and maintain their credentials. We understand the nuances associated with behavioral health credentialing and have direct relationships with all major payers. TPS allows you to do what you do best – manage patient care – by alleviating the burden of credentialing and making sure you never miss quarterly re-attestation deadlines.
If your mental health services are being denied, we are here to help. Learn how solutions from TriZetto Provider Solutions can help your practice simplify credentialing.
TriZetto Provider Solutions is a partner of EZClaim and can assist you with all your coding needs. For more details about EZClaim’s medical billing software, visit their website, e-mail their support team, or call them at 877.650.0904.
[ Contribution: The TriZetto Provider Solutions editorial team ]
Are you working in the medical billing industry as a biller or an owner of a billing company? If so, the KEY medical billing insights and best practices that came out of our interview with Maura Jansen (VP of Operations) and Jennifer Withington (Director of Revenue) at Missing Piece Billing & Consulting Solutions will be VERY VALUABLE for you to consider.
Jennifer, an expert in understanding the problem-solving techniques and the investigative nature of medical billing, offers insights that both educate and inspire. Maura, an executive member of the billing community, also added an important perspective about EZClaim’s medical billing software. The following are some highlights from our interview.
EZCLAIM: When did you get into the industry?
JENNIFER: “I worked in group homes for the waiver side of group aid and then I went to Missing Piece. Missing Piece primarily deals with ABA providers and provides early intervention rendered to children. For me, the move from waivers with adults to professional billing, indirectly assisting children, was attractive and I took to the billing side of things.”
EZCLAIM: What does that mean when you say you took to the billing side of things?
JENNIFER: “Insurance doesn’t make a lot of sense when you first start. So, I took to the investigative side of making sense of medical billing claims. Figuring out what the payer’s rules are, reading their manuals, and figuring out the technical jargon with the purpose of preventing claim denials was attractive. I liked the puzzle of it.”
EZCLAIM: Are there things that you value in your work that offer meaning to what you do?
JENNIFER: “It’s really when I know that if I do not intercede with the insurance company and get this paid the patient is going to be responsible for the balance. So, to help, I have taken things to the department of insurance, or I have gone ahead and filed that third letter of appeal and really taken the time to research it. Because I don’t want a parent who is already struggling with having a child with more needs than maybe the other children would have, I don’t want them struggling with a $25,000 bill. ABA is extremely expensive because it works. And so, if insurance doesn’t pay it then the only other funder is the parent. And my goal is that parents should not have to pay any more than they absolutely have to.”
EZCLAIM: What are some of the strengths that make you good at what you do?
JENNIFER: “I am a good problem solver. I am good at taking a large problem and breaking it into smaller problems and knocking each one down until I solve the bigger issue. At the end of the day, that’s really what accounts receivable is.”
EZCLAIM: What would be an example of your problem solving on a day-to-day basis?
JENNIFER: “So you always start with the denial and then you have to work back to the billing. For example, if I have a claim denied for services rendered from an out-of-network service provider, but we know we are in-network then my first problem is, are we actually in-network? Then, you go onto the next link which is did the payer recognize you as in-network? It becomes like a decision tree, if you get a ‘yes’ then you are probably done, and you get the claim processed. If it is ‘no’, then you have to start digging with the payers contacting reps, make calls, and supply them with documents to get down to why they don’t have your provider listed within the network. Once you solve that problem, then the claim should be able to be processed. It is either going to pay or deny. Then depending on which one it is, you apply the same technique.”
EZCLAIM: What would you offer someone who is considering entering the field?
JENNIFER: “You should be good at processing and reading information because to get a claim paid you to have to know the rules of engagement. You need to be familiar with how to read a contract, how to read technical information about billing, and have to have a glossary of information about what you are billing. Those are the building blocks to get to know what you are doing.”
EZCLAIM: You work with EZClaim’s medical billing software platform, what role does their software providers and how does that impact your work?
JENNIFER: “EZClaim really serves to eliminate these denials before they happen, which is the ultimate goal of any accounts receivable or billing. EZClaim has edits that we use. It alerts us if the system thinks the claim is a duplicate, for example. It also helps in the set-up of the claim. We load all the fee schedules in EZClaim’s procedure code library and that lets us monitor the charge rate, make sure all the points of billing are on the claim (i.e. correct code, modifier, and charge). They also make sure that the authorization is appended to the claim. And then after we have actually done the work of getting a claim in the system, we use EZClaim reports to audit our own billing. So, we use the EZClaim service report. It makes it easier for us and our providers to see what has been billed and make sure that the billing is correct.”
EZCLAIM: If you were going to share something with your colleagues in the field, what would you share about the software that makes your life easier?
JENNIFER: “Number one, it is not the software itself, it’s the EZClaim staff. Their customer service is far beyond what a normal billing software company provides. If I have a problem, or if I have a report, or if I have a data point that isn’t in any report, they are available and they are there for me. And if they don’t have a solution for the problem, they will provide me with a workaround. So, that is very valuable. That is why Missing Piece works so well with EZClaim because customer service is number one for us, too. They don’t just want to answer your question, they want to help you understand your question.”
“The other thing that I find valuable is that their reporting modules are just a lot more robust than the other billing software companies that I have dealt with.”
EZCLAIM: Maura, do you have any thoughts from an administrative level that you can offer on EZClaim?
MAURA: “Well, when we hire a new person we know that, even if this person has very little experience in the healthcare field, it’s going to be a quick and easy process for them to learn EZClaim… EZClaim has also made it kind of a joy to work with. We really value them as a partner. We love the service they provide, and we value them as a platform.”
EZClaim can also help you with medical billing insights since it is a medical billing and scheduling software company. It provides a best-in-class product, with correspondingly exceptional service and support. Combined, they help improve medical billing revenues. To learn more, visit EZClaim’s website, email them, or call them today at 877.650.0904.
Ransomware hackers target medical billing companies, and it CAN AFFECT your entire company! (Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.)
Often out of one’s control, ransomware hackers target medical billing companies because of the tremendous value of the data. BUT, there are steps that CAN BE TAKEN to protect you, your company, and your patients and/or clients.
NetWalker Ransomware, for example, gained notoriety for targeting hospitals and healthcare providers with e-mails claiming to provide information about COVID-19. (The e-mail usually has an attachment that downloads the ransomware from a remote server when clicked on.) The thing is, this is very lucrative for identity thieves since medical records information sells anywhere from $1-$1000!
As the number of healthcare providers taking advantage of Telehealth continues to increase—now outnumbering in-person visits—the number of ransomware attacks continues to increase as well. This means Billers and Providers must be aware of the programs that are used on their machines and ensure necessary steps are taken to safeguard against hackers and attacks.
How can you protect yourself and/or your organization?
- Carefully monitoring where you store and enter your passwords can be extremely beneficial to help minimize the risk of a hack and keeping personal or patient information protected.
- Routine password changes and monitoring where you store and enter your passwords can be extremely beneficial to help reduce the risk of becoming a victim to a hacker. Passwords should be long, unique in characters, capitalization, and alphanumerical.
- Have you had an accurate and thorough Security Risk Assessment and/or penetration testing? If you haven’t completed an accurate and thorough security risk assessment, you could also be penalized under ‘willful neglect’ (this category alone is $50,000 per violation!) in addition to the higher risk of ransomware attacks.
- If you believe you might have revealed sensitive information about your organization, report it to the appropriate people within the organization, including network administrators. They can be alert for any suspicious or unusual activity.
- The strength of your passwords directly impacts your online security.
Live Compliance can help. They aggregate breaches which enables you to assess where personal data has been exposed. Dark Web scanning is built right into their Portal, and it allows you to keep an eye on employees whose information was involved in a breach, where the breach took place, and then suggest the next steps to take.
At Live Compliance, they make checking off your compliance requirements extremely simple and to ensure this doesn’t happen to you or your organization:
- Reliable and effective compliance
- Completely online, our role-based courses make training easy for remote or in-office employees
- Contact-free, accurate Security Risk Assessments are conducted remotely. All devices are thoroughly analyzed regardless of location. (Conducting an accurate and thorough Security Risk Assessment is not only required but is a useful tool to expose potential vulnerabilities, including those such as password protection.)
- Policies and procedures curated to fit your organization ensuring employees are updated on all workstation use and security safeguards in the office, or out of the office—all updated in real-time
- Electronic, prepared document sending and signing to employees and business associates
So, don’t risk your company’s future on ransomware hackers. Contact one of EZClaim’s partners, Live Compliance, especially since they are offering a FREE Organization Assessment to help determine your company’s status. E-mail them, visit their website at LiveCompliance.com, or call them at 980.999.1585.
For more information about EZClaim’s medical billing software, which provides a best-in-class product with correspondingly exceptional service and support, e-mail, visit their website, or contact them at 877.650.0904.
[ Article contributed by Jim Johnson of Live Compliance ]