The SIX KEYS to sustaining your practice through the COVID-19 pandemic are online payments, Telehealth, automation tools, cyber protection, financial aid, and a good patient experience.
When Coronavirus first started to impact medical practices across the country, providers quickly put temporary solutions in place to ensure they were still able to see patients safely. As the pandemic endured, some of these “temporary” solutions became a “normal” part of doing business. While we can’t predict exactly how COVID-19 will affect us in the future, one thing is becoming clearer every day: Some of the changes that have been made the past few months will shape how healthcare is managed after the global health crisis is over.
So, it’s time to start thinking long-term with your COVID-19 strategy. Here are six ‘keys’ for sustaining your practice right now that will continue to be important after the pandemic is over.
1. ONLINE PAYMENTS
Most businesses already process a good amount of their payments online (including EZClaim), but healthcare has been slow to adapt in this area. Practices no longer have the luxury of taking their time adopting digital payment options. It’s time to give patients what they’ve been wanting for years: the ability to pay their bills online.
Because the pandemic is still with us, contactless payments have surged. No-touch payments are an easy way to reduce the spread of germs, and most people already have the tools they need to complete these types of payments: phones, computers, and credit cards.
Online payments are encouraged even when you’re meeting patients in the office. EZClaim customers can easily facilitate this with LinkPay. The process is easy and can be done once an appointment is made.
Here’s LinkPay in three simple steps:
1) Create customized payment link with required amount
2) Email or text the link to patient before their visit
3) Patient pays the required amount, which is immediately confirmed and processed
COVID-19 demanded contactless payments for safety, but now patients now expect them for convenience. Medical practices will need online payments if they are to stay relevant in the future.
Telehealth threw providers a lifeline when patients stopped coming into the office. The government acted quickly to relax Telehealth reimbursement policies so providers would be paid just as much for a Telehealth visit as they would for an in-office visit.
Congress is hoping to make these changes permanent. Whether they succeed or not, plan on keeping Telehealth as an option for your patients. Because Telehealth is not just useful during a pandemic, it’s great during normal life, too. Not all visits require an in-person encounter, and patients of all ages can benefit from the convenience of not having to physically leave their homes to get the medical care they need.
Patients have become used to having Telehealth as an option. Keeping it as an option going forward will set you apart from other practices.
3. AUTOMATION TOOLS
Chances are you are working with fewer people than normal. So, with less people to handle your billing and payments, your best option is to automate whatever you can.
This could mean setting up AutoPay for patients you see regularly, so they don’t have to manually pay their bill every time. It could also mean setting up a payment plan, in which a fixed amount will be paid automatically every month until the balance is paid off. It could also mean outsourcing your collections.
Automation doesn’t mean you lose control. Rather, it gives your staff more time to manage other essential operations. EZClaim customers have all of these automation options available to them through BillFlash.
4. CYBER PROTECTION
With digital tools becoming more prevalent, it is more important than ever to make sure your systems are protected. Hackers are out in full force right now, so it is imperative that you have proper malware and anti-virus software in place to protect your practice, your patients, and your employees. Do your homework on the tech companies you work with, too. Protecting your practice and your patients should be a top priority!
Of course, your staff will need to be up-to-date on HIPAA protocols, as well. Make sure you are doing everything you need to to protect patient privacy online as well as offline.
5. FINANCIAL AID
Some practices are struggling financially and may need government aid to get them through the current crisis. Keep an eye on government funds that are available and stay informed on their different requirements.
If you haven’t already, consider applying for a line of credit. This is standard operating procedure—even during normal times—and can help protect you from further financial disruptions in the future. No one knows how long this pandemic will last, so having a line of credit to fall back on during the coming months and years could be a game changer for your practice.
6. A GOOD PATIENT EXPERIENCE
Above all, you need happy patients. That is true whether we are in a recession or not. Happy patients are more likely to pay their bills, more likely to return for future care, and more likely to recommend you to family and friends.
So, as you make some of the changes you made during the pandemic permanent, make sure you are still doing the little things to ensure a positive patient experience. These include:
• Keep wait times short
• Maintain eye contact during visits to assure patients that you care
• Be transparent about payment expectations and insurance, as well as what you’re doing to keep patients and staff safe
• Allow patients to pay using their preferred payment method
• Offer payment plans in lieu of paying large bills in one lump sum
A positive patient experience will be key in bringing your patients back to the office as the global health crisis continues.
NexTrust from BillFlash offers a variety of innovative billing and payments solutions for EZClaim customers. Visit billflash.com or e-mail them at Sales@BillFlash.com to learn more about how you can get paid more, get paid faster, and ensure you have the online tools you need to thrive during the pandemic.
For details and features about EZClaim’s medical billing software, or the other partners they have integrated into their billing solution, visit their website.
[ Written by Kathy Scott, Marketing Manager at BillFlash and NexTrust, Inc. ]
Security – Keep Your Head In The Clouds
The cloud is still a mystery to many and when it comes to cloud security regarding Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) compliance and your patients’ protected health information (PHI), the unanswered questions you may have can lead to a lot of stress. We’re here to help make your life easier, so we’ll put this in plain and simple terms. Here are the necessities that make for HIPAA compliant secure hosting and cloud storage solutions. Making sure your hosting and/or cloud storage provider ticks these boxes ensures adherence to the security standards that are required to keep your patients’ PHI, your practice and your reputation safe.
- Two-Factor Authentication
- Business Associate Agreement (BAA)
- Encrypted VPN
- Offsite backups
- Physical safeguards
- Private hosting environment
- SSAE 18 Certification
- SSL Certificates
Cloud computing is an impossible-to-ignore convenience and EZClaim Cloud provides the best of both worlds – the ability to work wherever you want and the peace of mind that comes with knowing your practice and patient data are protected on secure servers with nightly backups. EZClaim Cloud uses Netgain, the industry standard for secure and scalable HIPAA compliant for hosting and secure cloud storage. Rest assured EZClaim Cloud has the security of you and your patients’ PHI covered in every respect.
Not to mention EZClaim Cloud gives you these additional benefits:
- Automatic upgrades
- Data Permissions Control
- Less onsite technical support
- No Contracts
- Program support
- Works on all Operating Systems
If you would like to dig deeper to get extensive information regarding HIPAA compliance and the cloud computing environment, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for their Guidance on HIPAA and Cloud Computing.
If you like the sound of the outstanding benefits that EZClaim Cloud provides backed by Netgain, a leader in secure cloud-based hosting and storage, we invite you to learn more or upgrade your account today.
We hope you enjoyed the “Security – Keep Your Head In The Clouds” blog article. Click here to see our full blog page to see all of our most recent posts!
9 Signs It’s Time to Outsource Your Medical Billing and Coding.
Contributed by James Easley, VP, Marketing of NexTrust, Inc
Should a practice outsource their billing and coding or manage it in-house? This is one of the most important business decisions for practices to get right. Which is the better option for your practice? Here are nine signs that it may be more financially beneficial to outsource medical billing.
1. Do You Lack Visibility into Billing and Payment Metrics?
Do you know your key financial metrics and how to improve them? Many practices are not aware of their actual revenue metrics which are the “vitals” for the financial health of their practice. For example, only about 35% of practices appeal denied claims, which means most are losing out on thousands of dollars every month.
Without the ability to measure these financial vitals, it’s difficult to know how to improve. Does your practice have a financial analyst as well as the staff with the skills to identify problems and make improvements? If not, practices should consider looking at external experts to provide these metrics and are able to make the necessary billing improvements.
2. Is Your Revenue Decreasing?
For practices that are aware of their billing and payment metrics, are you seeing your collections decrease? Is the time it takes to collect increasing? Unfortunately, this is more and more common among practices due to the ever-changing complexity of the insurance billing processes. Outsourcing is not the only solution, however fixing this problem internally can often be costlier and time-consuming than outsourcing.
You need a solid income stream to keep your clinic operating effectively. If billing mistakes, coding complexities, and reduced reimbursements or denials have negatively affected your collections, then you need to consider outsourcing your billings and collections to keep your company from falling victim to a bad revenue stream.
Not only does this keep your business running optimally, but it also allows your personnel to focus on other responsibilities and ensure quality customer service.
3. Are Billing Errors and Rejected Claims Costing You Money?
The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that a 5-10% denial rate is the industry average. To be financially sound, practices should do what’s necessary to keep this rate below 5%. Because high claim denial rates require additional costs and staff time to correct and resubmit, many practices have found the outsourcing resolves this issue and provides higher net income overall.
4. Are You at Risk of Staff Absence or Turnover?
While every industry faces the challenges of staff turnover, the effects are often felt acutely among medical practices when billers leave. Since claim processing is integral to the lifeblood of a practice, replacements or new additions to your billing department unavoidably result in a slowdown in claims processing. Practices can remove this variability and risk through outsourcing their billing and pushing the staffing burden to the third-party. Practices then rely on a team that can ensure the work of claim processing continues without interruption.
5. Are Staff Billing and Coding Skills and Training Insufficient?
Many practices take on the responsibility of hiring, managing and training Internal billing and coding staff. This works well in many practices. However, if billing and coding staff is under-experienced or not current on compliance and regulatory issues, practices must cost-effectively provide regular training to get and keep them current. Practices that prefer not to take on these burdens can find a simple solution in outsourcing.
6. Has In-house Billing Become Too Expensive?
Considering the costs of hiring, salary, benefits and administrative costs of in-house medical billers, practices may find it costs less overall to outsource their billing.
In addition to employee costs, practices must purchase equipment, software, and more. In-house billing costs can quickly add up. Practices should compare internal costs to outsourcing to determine both the best operational and cost-effective methods for billing and coding management.
7. Do You Have New Providers or a New Practice?
Newer practices may find it difficult to navigate the complexities of medical billing and coding. These new practices or practices with new providers need to ensure they are focused on growing their business and providing a high level of care.
Delegating important responsibilities to a trusted third-party allows new practices and providers to do just that. Outsourcing your medical billing during this time can relieve the burdens of hiring, training or managing a team of new billing employees.
8. Is Your Clinic Growing?
A growing practice can have similar challenges as a new clinic. Reputation is critical when growing your business and ensuring high-quality patient attention and care can become more difficult.
As your staff will likely be tasked with more responsibilities and duties during this growth period, why not ensure they can still provide meaningful services by taking some of those administrative duties off their hands. Your personnel will thank you for this by continuing to provide quality care to patients, which in turn will help you to continue growing.
9. Is Your Attention Divided Between Patients and Running a Business?
Overseeing internal billing and coding requires a substantial amount of effort, time, and expertise. Without dedicated staff to handle this, the responsibility can fall on the shoulders of clinic owners, physicians, or other administrative staff.
This can mean less time focusing on patients or other relationships and practice management responsibilities. When practices outsource the billing process, physicians and administrators are free to focus on providing quality healthcare services to patients.
If you found yourself nodding your head to one or more of these questions, it’s worth taking some time to learn if outsourcing would be better for your practice. NexTrust offers both patient and insurance billing services that not only improve revenue but allow providers and staff to focus on providing the highest level of care.
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Call NexTrust today 435-940-9123 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how our Patient Billing and Insurance Billing services can improve the financial health of your practice.
Stay tuned to our blog for the latest information related to the medical billing field from EZClaim and our esteemed partners.