If a medical billing program has “scrubbing,” why did my medical billing claim still get denied? It is a common question that we are going to answer today.
First, let’s get a better understanding of the words we are talking about. In the medical billing world, validation and scrubbing tend to be used interchangeably. While they are similar – they are not actually the same. Understanding what you have and what you need will help you submit ‘clean’ claims.
According to Technopedia, data validation checks for the integrity and validity of data and ensures the data complies with the requirements. So, what requirements? Often people assume that this means payer requirements, but that is typically not standard. Validation rules are built into your practice management software and can be used for several points. Following are some common rules you may find in your program:
Ensure NPI‘s and Tax IDs are the appropriate lengths
Ensure patients date of birth is entered
Ensure that a procedure code and place of service are present on each claim
While these scenarios are standard across the industry, there may be other situations that a validation rule can help. Some programs will allow you to create custom rules for your practice. A customized validation rule will allow you to create a rule for a payer requirement. For instance, you could create a rule to prevent the following:
Do you have a code that always requires a modifier, but only for a specific payer?
Work with pediatrics and always need the ‘relationship to insured’ to read something other than self
How about insurance ID numbers that are a specific alpha-numeric combo, like 3 letters followed by 9 digits?
Keep in mind, if you are creating validation rules the program will make sure that the criteria are met based on the rule entered into your software. When creating custom rules, it is important to note that this will not verify payer billing guidelines. You will need to obtain information directly from your payer to create a rule that coincides with their policies.
Once any validation errors have been addressed your claims will go to the clearinghouse you are working with. Most clearinghouses offer claim scrubbing for an additional fee. Technopedia defines data scrubbing as the procedure of identifying and then modifying or removing incomplete, incorrect, inaccurately formatted, or repeated data.
Claim scrubbing is available in several ways. It may be used within your practice management system, your clearinghouse, or even a third-party vendor. Claim scrubbing services can vary greatly in what they are looking for.
Once the claim has left your practice management system it will likely go through at least 2 scrubbing programs—one with the clearinghouse and one with your payer, prior to accepting the claim for processing. When claims are found to have an error, these results are sent back through a Claim Status Report (ANSI 277 file or a human-readable text file). This report will include information about why the claim cannot be processed. This report will also indicate whether it is the clearinghouse or the payer that is rejecting the claim. If you have further questions about the rejection, you will need to contact the entity that has rejected it.
Checking the Claim Status Reports on a regular basis will help you correct the errors and resubmit in a timely manner. In addition, the information you have gathered from the rejections can be used to update internal processes or create customized validation rules to prevent future rejections for the same error–saving you time and money!
RCM Insight is a medical billing company that uses EZClaim’s medical billing software. For any details that have to do with claims validation and “scrubbing,” contact RCM Insight directly.
ABOUT EZCLAIM: EZClaim is a medical billing and scheduling software company that 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, e-mail them, or call them today at 877.650.0904.
With patient payment responsibility increasing each year, medical practices need to be extra diligent in collecting patient payments. This includes sending accounts to collections when necessary. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make collections easier and more effective—both of which contribute to more revenue for your practice.
Here are three ways to improve your medical billing collections.
1. Be clear about your payment expectations
Make sure patients know when they will be expected to pay, and what payment methods you accept. Collecting copays before each visit is one of the best ways to avoid having accounts sent to collections, so making payment a part of the check-in process is a good idea. Post signs throughout the office to keep bills top of mind for patients. The more reminders you give patients about their payment responsibility, the less you will have to deal with collections.
2. Reach out to patients who have stopped paying
Keep an eye on delinquent accounts. If an account is approaching 30-60 days past due, it’s time to reach out to the patient. Try to have an empathetic conversation to see what you can do to help them pay off their bill. If they are experiencing financial difficulties, offer to adjust the payment terms to something more suitable to their situation. Even if it means you are only collecting part of their payment now, both the practice and the patient will be better off in the long run.
3. Automate what you can
The collections process is slow and cumbersome—if you’re doing everything manually. Software like BillFlashIntegrated Collection Services saves your staff a lot of time by handling the manual processing for you. After that, all you need to do is approve which accounts to send to collections, based on the aging and amounts you prefer, and a collections expert will get to work collecting your revenue.
ABOUT EZCLAIM: As a medical billing expert, EZClaim can help the medical practice improve its revenues since it is a medical billing and scheduling software company. EZClaim provides a best-in-class product, with correspondingly exceptional service and support. Combined, EZClaim helps improve medical billing revenues. To learn more, visit EZClaim’s website, email them, or call them today at 877.650.0904.
[ Contribution from the marketing team at BillFlash ]
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, apartner 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.
Deborah Rieser founded Spectrum Medical Billing Services in Anchorage, Alaska 15 years ago to make extra money to help with paying the family’s bills. Today, she owns a thriving medical billing service with a team of “twelve lovely ladies”—as she likes to refer to them—that services clients nationwide. Rieser originally selected EZClaim’s medical billing software platform—because of its pricing structure—to use for her medical billing service.
Over the years, since her original purchase, she has upgraded to each new EZClaim version, which adding new features and efficiencies. Recently, she has made the transition to EZClaim Cloud, and continues to use it exclusively today.
With team members nationwide, Rieser prides herself on training her billers on properly classifying billing for medical offices so that there are minimal insurance denials. She is very particular about this since one of the reasons Deborah began billing was the insurance qualification struggles she had for her daughter with Autism. So, accurate billing is ‘personal’.
Recently, we found time to interview Rieser about her start in the industry, the ups and downs of being a business owner, and what hard-fought expertise she has gained that might help others considering to start their own medical billing service.
EZCLAIM: When did you get into the medical billing industry and why? RIESER: “I always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and I had an orchid business out of our house. Then my daughter, who was born with Autism, started working with an Occupational Therapist (OT), and they came to me to help with billing. I thought about it, and after a few weeks, I took it on. That was back in 2005.
“At that time, my daughter had over 75 volunteers and therapists in the community work with her from age three to age five, and had 50-60 hours a week of therapy. Today, she is a sophomore in university, has a boyfriend, is driving her car, and is thriving. From all of that, I have always felt the need to give back to the community for all their help. So, I used my business to take on other Pediatric, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech Therapy clients, as well as, using my experience to help patients take care of their billing needs and get their bills paid by insurance.”
EZCLAIM: What are you passionate about when it comes to billing? RIESER: “For me, the biggest thing that I am passionate about is seeing my clients [medical offices] getting paid from insurance claims. I also enjoy helping patients get properly classified during medical visits, so claims are accepted. I have learned a lot from the mistakes and errors that have led to denied claims. From my experience, I can help medical practices observe their approach to patients’ needs so that services qualify when billing insurance companies. Being able to offer that to my clients is very satisfying.”
EZCLAIM: What are some of the challenges you have had to overcome? RIESER: “Originally, we grew word-of-mouth. I didn’t even want a website at first, but now I do have one. Going from one client to 65 is challenging because as your clients grow, your staff grows. Recently, I lost a client. You then have to decide what you’re going to do with your staff. The hardest part is that, for a business owner, your business consistently goes up and down. That fluctuation can be stressful. For me, I deal with that by going outdoors. My husband and I will go for a walk in nature and that will help relieve my stress.”
EZCLAIM: What advice would you offer others in the billing industry that have similar experiences? RIESER: “If you’re starting your own business, make sure it’s one you love. Know that there will always be highs and lows. Also, be sure to price yourself accordingly. You can’t go too high or people will look elsewhere.
“I do want to step back and highlight that some of my billing practices only do 2-3 claims a week, and that’s why I love EZClaim. The price of the software. When I was growing, I was working on EZClaim “Advance,” which is being retired. So, when I started looking around at other software providers, they were billed on a ‘per provider cost.’ Fortunately, EZClaim “Cloud” billed based on the number of concurrent users, which worked for me.”
EZCLAIM: How has your relationship with AMBA (American Medical Billing Association) benefitted you? RIESER: “I just joined last year in 2019, thanks to EZClaim and Dan Loch’s referral. I love that group. I joined their Facebook group because they have very useful information for us billers. I recommended that my team members join as well. They are good at supporting US-based companies and put the focus on supporting the group.”
EZCLAIM: What would you tell people who are wondering if EZClaim Cloud is right for them? RIESER: “The transition to EZClaim Cloud was easy. I was worried about the providers and the tax ID’s, but it all was very smooth. I would add that customer support was very helpful. As daunting as moving things over felt, it was very smooth. I attribute that to the planning and support.”
EZCLAIM: What would you say would be a strength of someone who is good at billing and coding? RIESER: “It is important to be a very good communicator, professional, out-going, and enjoy what you do. One must be able to communicate with providers over denials, success, celebrations, and always keep talking with the staff and the providers. Also, always try to put yourself in the patients’ shoes by offering patience and compassion. Lots of times patients don’t understand their benefits and why they are denied. So, try to explain in layman’s terms. They understand better and appreciate that. It ends up being a good connection with the patient, and benefits you as the biller, too.”
EZCLAIM: Final thoughts? RIESER: “I am grateful to EZClaim for their services. As a business owner, you have to monitor expenses and things can add up fast. So, I am thankful for EZClaim Cloud and its pricing structure. That has helpedSpectrum Medical Billing Services to grow and thrive.”
[ The above answers were paraphrased as closely as possible to the original answers given by Deborah Rieser on November 25, 2020 ].
ABOUT EZCLAIM: EZClaim is a medical billing and scheduling software company that 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, e-mail them, or call a representative today at 877.650.0904.
It IS POSSIBLE to improve medical billing revenues, and here are a few ways to do just that.
Healthcare practitioners, whether established or just starting out, have many overwhelming tasks: Managing a practice; Seeing patients; Working to staying up-to-date on administrative tasks; The whole host of compliance at the federal, state, and local level; and Overseeing the billing.
One of these that can lead to loss of revenue is not properly managing the medical billing, which can also lead to HIPAA fines and rejected claims. However, there is a solution: a medical billing system that balances the budget and optimizes revenues of medical practice.
EZClaim, an expert in the medical billing software market since 1997, provides a solution that improves the efficiency of an office’s billing process in many ways. The following are the primary reasons.
Reduce Coding Errors Medical procedures become codes, codes become claims, and claims become revenue. Any error in this process can make claims to be denied, your workload can be increased, and revenue can be lost. To help in avoiding errors, it is essential to use billing software that offers the easiest implementation and access to descriptive diagnosis and treatment codes. EZClaim’s medical billing solution offers ease-of-use in coding, billing, and strong partnerships with Clearinghouses which act as an additional ‘safety net’ for catching errors.
Administrative Support Most medical practices are a small team of people tackling a wide range of tasks, so when one cannot understand the function of the billing software, accessing reliable support is very important. EZClaim prides itself on having dedicated support experts available, and that was how the company was established. Founder and President Al Nagy has said, since day one, “We are a support company that happens to sell medical billing software.”
Maintain Industry Compliance It is important to recognize that industry compliance and a practice’s revenue go hand-in-hand. Filing and batching inaccurate and non-HIPAA compliant claims can often be traced back to an outdated healthcare revenue management system. Conquering these tasks requires a focus on multiple fronts: A properly trained billing team, clear office procedures, patient payment policies, and a reliable medical billing company. These are all ways to help buttress against non-compliance and rejected claims.
Streamline Workflow Recently, a study was done that showed almost 80% of medical bills contain errors. These incorrect medical claims often end up as lost revenue originally, not to mention the additional cost of resubmissions and collections. One of the best ways to resolve this problem for your practice is to make use of both well-trained, experienced billers and coders, combined with a competent medical billing solution that aids in catching these errors. EZClaim software features a library of standard validation, the ability to add custom validation, and integrates with Alpha II for full claim scrubbing.
Follow up Errors will and do occur, so establishing a system for follow-up on all denials will close the loop and protect against lost revenue. Being consistent with the follow-up process, and having a medical billing solution that tracks these things will help close that gap.
Collections Finally, probably the most important aspect that optimizes a practice’s revenue is to get paid. Portals and payment collection systems definitely help with this, but having collections integrated into the medical billing system is, of course, the best. EZClaim has pain-free payment processing integrated into their solution, called EZClaimPay. It solves all the problems associated with payment processing: Bank deposits, reconciliation, statements, changing fees, and ‘finger-pointing’ when there is a problem. EZClaimPay’s robust platform will greatly increase a practice’s collections success, and improve their revenue.
ABOUT EZCLAIM: EZClaim is a medical billing and scheduling software company that provides a best-in-class product, with correspondingly exceptional service and support, and can help improve medical billing revenues. To learn more, visit their website, e-mail them at email@example.com, or call a representative today at 877.650.0904.
Claim denials are the bane of every RCM company. Chasing money is costly and navigating regulations, coding edits, and health plan particularities can frustrate even seasoned billing professionals.
The American Association of Family Physicians puts the average claim denial rate at around 20 percent and reworking a single claim can cost hospitals and offices anywhere from $25 – $118 on average, so the initial validity of every claim is critical. While denial percentages have been dropping – thanks to the technology that allows billers and coders to verify the accuracy of their work and catch the most egregious errors – the reality is you can do better. Use the following seven tips as a starting point to determine how you can maximize revenue by reducing denials.
Recognize that the revenue cycle begins in the front office.
Providing services to patients whose insurance has changed or lapsed will result in denial—even if it’s coded correctly. Make it a point to check your patients’ insurance at each visit, including copays and deductibles. Front-end verification can prevent back-office headaches.
Look beyond the first-pass clean claim rate.
A high first-pass clean claim rate may look great on the month-end statement you provide to your bosses, but what does it really mean? This rather meaningless metric only gauges the percentage of claims that are initially accepted by a payer. It says nothing about the denial rate, which is where the real work begins. Focus on metrics that matter, such as denial rate, collections as a percentage of revenue, or days in A/R.
Learn from your mistakes.
Use denied claims as a learning experience. Why did the claim deny? Some common reasons include a lack of medical necessity, a mismatch of diagnosis and treatment codes, upcoding or unbundling, incorrect coding, and missing/wrong modifiers. Use claim data content with comprehensive edit logic to perform a deep dive into denials. Is the problem an individual coder, clinician documentation, or a certain procedure or treatment type? Understanding the “why” behind every error will help you uncover how the organization can do better.
Examine your workflows.
Your increased denial rate may be occurring because your operational workflows aren’t aligned with billing best practices. If you are performing claim editing only after the claim is generated, you’re not allowing for actionable change by those who created the errors. Also, are those who work denied claims relaying the information back to the relevant department? If your billers, coders, and clinicians don’t know they are making mistakes, they will continue to make them
Edit claims early in the process.
This goes hand in hand with our previous step. Recognize that revenue cycle management truly begins in the front office and flows through everyone who generates a charge, codes a procedure, or prepares a claim. Develop the mindset that everyone who touches a patient record should understand the implications of coding. For example, a clinician who sees charting as a burdensome task may make inadvertent mistakes that result in incorrect coding, which in turn creates more work for your billing staff who has to work the denial. Fixing these costly mistakes takes precious time that would be better spent on more complex tasks.
Examine your claims technology.
Claim editing software is a must to reduce denials. But not all software is the same. As we said before, claims acceptance is important but has little bearing on overall denial rates. Many electronic medical records and practice management systems have generic claim edits that check for obvious technical mismatches such as age-related discrepancies, date of service issues, and CCI mismatches. But those systems will do nothing to help your billing department move the needle on denials. An advanced clinical claim editing solution with constantly updated content is worth the investment. The edit explanations help your coding staff recognize the changing parameters that can affect denials.
Train for better performance.
Not everyone on your staff or in your billing organization needs to understand coding and claims at a detailed level. However, everyone should understand the role they play in the revenue cycle process. Don’t simply demand that front office staff check insurance every time – explain why it’s important to the claims process. Make sure clinicians understand the differences between common visit types and procedures so charges are captured accurately on the front end. And ensure your coding and revenue cycle personnel are working to add value to the organization by performing high-level work. A robust clinical coding and claim editing software can help educate coders on procedural changes and provide tips to keep claim denials as low as possible.
Just as everyone who interacts with a patient affects that patient’s perception of your practice, reducing your organization’s claims denial rate is the responsibility of every staff member who interacts with the patient’s data. Ensuring accuracy throughout your entire revenue cycle will improve the overall integrity and result in improved revenue.
The Alpha II Solution
Are you ready to submit precise claims the first time? Contact Alpha II, a leader in revenue cycle solutions. Our comprehensive clinical claim editing solution, ClaimStaker, covers the entire continuum of care, verifying claim data from the payer’s perspective and allowing for corrections prior to filing.
If you enjoyed this article about denied claims and seven tips to improve revenue integrity, visit our blog page to see more interesting and informative articles. You may also Follow Us on Facebook to stay up to date with our most recent events at EZClaim.
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