So, it looks that there will be a lot new for E/M coding (Evaluation and Management) in 2021, and practices should start to get ready for it.
Well, it seems the only constant in the world of medical billing is change, and 2020 would only compliment that cliché. While the chaos of COVID-19 forced many unexpected changes—how you see your patients and bill for services—a bigger change is in the works for 2021. This change will complement the “Patients Over Paperwork” initiative from CMS and the AMA, which has been developed to eliminate “Note Bloat.” So, since the new year will roll out changes to E/M visits, now is the time to make sure that all parties are prepared for this long overdue and welcome change to medical billing.
Evaluation and management services have been long overdue for an overhaul. The 1995/1997 guidelines were in place well before electronic medical records, and with the growth of EMR’s, the process to document for a specific level required a lot of tedious, unnecessary documentation. (A cursory a look at some of the proposed updates for E/M CPT coding and documentation requirements will verify that!)
• History and Examination: While the elements of history and examination that are pertinent to a specific visit shall be recorded, they will no longer be used to ‘score’ the level billed
• Code Selection: It will be based on MDM or time
• Medical Decision Making: It will still utilize the CMS Table of Risk. However, the wording and explanations are being updated to provide more concise language. For instance, definitions will now be included to clearly identify subjective wording like “self-limited and stable chronic illness.” The clinical example will likely be removed, and terms are more clearly defined. We will see this same type of clarification in the MDM table. For example, the 2021 guidelines will specify that the amount and/or complexity of data to be reviewed must also include analysis.
• Time-based Code Selection: It will also be easier. The guidelines will give specific amounts of time rather than the generic estimate that we currently see attached to E/M codes. Another major advantage to the codes selected based on time, it will now include non face-to-face services. There will also be additional add on codes—in 15-minute increments—if the time has been exceeded for the 99205 or 99215.
While changes are daunting, this change will be rewarding from a documentation standpoint. So, if you need help with training your team on these new updates, there are FREE videos available on the AMA website, or you can enlist the help of an independent consultant like RCM Insight.
One way of keeping up with these changes is to use EZClaim’s medical billing software, which is continually updated. For more details, visit their website, ezclaim.com, contact them, or just give them a call at 877.650.0904.
[ Written by Stephanie Cremeans of EZClaim ]
Credit card collections are a BIG part of any successful medical practice, and there has been a shift, in the last decade, that more insurance policies are adding co-pays with higher deductibles—which makes getting paid even more challenging.1 One industry report said that “73% of physicians shared that it typically takes at least one month to collect a payment, and 12% of their patients wait more than three months to pay.”2 With the current trend, more medical practices and their billing departments (or outsourced billing firms) are going the route of processing payment via credit cards, which has its PROS and CONS.
In light of this new information, the following are a few pros and cons for credit card processing that we anticipate in the near future, and some insights for choosing the best billing software that supports the credit card processing needs of medical practices:
- PRO: To protect against the dangers of stolen data, fraud, or other compromises in security, practices should seek out medical billing software that has credit card processing built-in, which can help safeguard against these dangers.
- CON: Security is a big risk, and a leak in data leading to stolen funds can end up in a physician paying out-of-pocket for the breach. It is also important to note that breach of credit card data is also considered a violation under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
- PRO: Implementing credit card processing will reduce long waiting periods for payments from the majority of your patients, and will also reduce the additional effort your billing staff has to extend to collect on overdue notices.
- CON: Practices cannot require patients to share their credit card information to receive medical care, and even if patients do share their credit card information, physicians cannot continue to charge the credit card without a patient’s consent.
- PRO: Physicians can end the process of being a “line of credit” to unpaid or underpaid claims, and collect on funds immediately.
- CON: You will need to implement internal processes that include, but are not limited to proper personal information storage and security, establishing guidelines on maximum percentages charged per bill, and personal consent forms.
Overall, there are definitely MORE ‘PROS’ than cons for implementing credit card processing for your medical practice, and all the trends are pointing to this being the PREFERRED METHOD of payment in the near future. EZClaim is proud to announce that it will release an integrated credit card processing solution, EZClaimPay, that is backed by a national merchant services vendor. [ EZClaim will be sharing more details about EZClaimPay in the weeks to come, via their social media platforms, their monthly newsletter, direct communications, and more ].
In addition to the credit card collections PROS and CONS above, we reached out to one of our partners, Live Compliance, to gather some regulatory and security advice. They suggested the following:
- When accessing, transmitting, storing, or receiving any Protected Health Information (PHI), Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) mandates that you are to maintain HIPAA compliance.
- When accepting, processing, or maintaining credit card information and debit card information, you must ensure that your organization is PCI DSS compliant (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).
- In addition to the above Federal regulatory requirements, most states require privacy and security compliance requirements to be implemented, along with strict adherence to the privacy of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Breach Notification requirements.
For more information on your compliance requirements, visit Live Compliance for a Free Organization Assessment to identify and uncover your organization’s vulnerabilities.
If you are not a current customer of EZClaim, we would very much like to connect with you. You can either schedule a one-on-one consultation with our sales team, view a recorded demo, or download a FREE 30-day trial right now. For detailed product features or general information about EZClaim, visit our website at ezclaim.com.
[ NOTE: If you would like a quote on the upcoming merchant services, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org your last three merchant statements. For more on our ongoing updates and industry news, you can follow EZClaim on Facebook and LinkedIn ].
1 – America’s Health Insurance Plans” report that there were 20.2 million co-pays in 2017, which was up tremendously from just over 1 million in 2005.
2 – Source: From InstaMed’s annual “Trends in Healthcare Payments” report.
> For more on this topic, read a previous article, “Why Do I Have A Balance? – Patient Payments”
Concerned about the claims process during COVID-19? Well, Alpha II remains on the forefront of the coding and billing changes during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). They understand this is a confusing time for providers, practices, and hospitals.
Now more than ever, practitioners are relying on the revenue brought in by accurate claim submission. So, if you would like more up-to-date details, join us for our Bring Revenue Integrity to the Claims Process During COVID-19 webinar on June 16th at 1 p.m. ET, and learn how to recover revenue based on the waivers allowed under the PHE. Click here to register for the webinar.
We have also compiled a comprehensive COVID-19 billing and coding FAQ document of questions received during our highly-attended webinar series. Click here to download the resource.
As guidelines for coding and billing of COVID-19 services are revised regularly, Alpha II is implementing these critical changes to regulations and coding guidance—almost immediately.
Alpha II empowers precision across the revenue cycle process so you can experience reduced cost, improved cash flow, and increased revenue. Through its software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, Alpha II supports coding, compliance, claims editing, value-based quality reporting and revenue analysis.
For more details about how Alpha II’s solutions can keep your coding, billing, and editing current, view our website or fill out our contact form to ask us a specific question.
Alpha II is a preferred partner of EZClaim, and their software is integrated into our medical billing software. For detailed product features or general information about EZClaim, visit our website at ezclaim.com/
If you are a member of the MEDICAL BILLING COMMUNITY, the norms of the day-to-day have changed. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the ‘stay-at-home’ order, you may find yourself with either more time on your hands and/or an increase of claims with new patients. During this time, we want to offer you a couple of suggestions so that you can make the best use of the additional time you have, and also help you improve your billing processes.
The first thing to consider is to review your Accounts Receivable (AR)—to collect payments due you to INCREASE YOUR INCOME. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), claim denial rates range between 0.5% and up to 3% or more, and that 90% of claim denials are preventable. Some of the most common claim denial reasons can be rectified by correcting claim management workflows, including claim submission and patient registration procedures. The following are a few of the most common oversights for claim denial.
- Use EZClaim software to check automatically for missing information, including absent or incorrect patient demographic information and technical errors
- Make sure you do not have duplicate claim submissions
- Check that claims do not have services previously adjudicated
- Review for claims with services not covered by the payer
- Make sure the time limit for claim submission has not expired
Secondly, revisit and resubmit open claims. Surprisingly, 31% of providers still use a manual process to resubmit. Our partner, TriZetto Provider Solutions (TPS), has an Advanced Reimbursement Manager Pro (ARM) that has two great tools that can improve your ability to tackle collecting and repaying underpaid and overpaid accounts. Below are some key features that can be automated by their software, and will help to improve your billing processes:
- Identify common errors and payer trends
- Analyze contract performance
- Customize and assign work into queues
- Quickly access information from interactive dashboards
- Automate the appeal process
Thirdly, know that EZClaim and our partner TPS have worked together to bring you the most powerful medical billing software tools to solve claim denials. Our partnership not only simplifies the billing process but also helps resolve denied claims in an efficient way. In addition to that, our customer support team is available to help you learn best practices with these tools, and support you however you need it.
Finally, if you are frustrated with your current medical billing solution, investigate how EZclaim’s medical billing solution may work for you. You can either schedule a one-on-one consultation with our sales team or download a FREE TRIAL to check it out the software yourself. For additional information right now, contact EZclaim’s sales team at 877.650.0904 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Getting Claims Right the First Time
Getting Claims Right the First Time. Contributed by Timothy Mills, Chief Growth Officer, Alpha II, LLC
The numbers are staggering. Industry averages report that nearly 20% of all claims are denied, rejected or underpaid. And considering the cost to rework claims — not to mention even higher appeal costs — as many as 60% of returned claims are never resubmitted.
With figures like these, it’s no wonder medical practices continue to face intense financial pressure. As negotiated reimbursements stagnate and operating expenses like rent and salaries continue to increase, the struggle to maintain steady revenue becomes even more crucial. For many practices, conducting reviews of their revenue cycle workflow would show gaps in their claims process. The good news is – these gaps can be bridged with the help of emerging technology.
With a saturated market of coding, billing, and compliance solutions, how do you begin to find the right technology for your practice? When trying to improve revenue integrity, it is important to understand exactly what vendors offer. For example, consider the term “first-pass claims rate,” which is still used by some healthcare IT vendors to represent the number of claims initially accepted by payers. But what is often overlooked is the number of those initially accepted claims that will be denied or underpaid. A better question would be – what percentage of claims are getting paid the first time they are submitted?
The fact is, practices that do not employ the latest clinical coding and editing tools within their revenue cycle are leaving money on the table. This is revenue that is rightfully theirs but is being pursued at high, incremental costs. It’s time to rethink traditional denials management practices, move beyond “first pass claims rate,” and embrace the future of denial prevention.
It’s your money. Go after it.
Still not convinced that investing in emerging clinical coding and editing software can save your practice money? Let’s see what relying on traditional denials management methods might really be costing you.
Each rejected, denied or underpaid claim represents earned revenue your practice is missing out on. Based on industry reports, the average cost to rework a claim has been pegged at more than $25, and appeal costs can skyrocket to over $100. It’s estimated that as many as two-thirds of all denied claims are recoverable. But practices often weigh the reimbursement amount of a claim against the cost to rework or appeal that claim. For smaller claims, many decide it just isn’t worth the effort, which is why getting claims right the first time should be the ultimate goal.
So how much are practices losing by simply correcting and resubmitting denied claims using traditional denial management methods? Let’s look at an example using figures from an actual mid-sized specialty practice. This practice submits 1,900 claims a month and the average claim is $150. They have a better-than-average denial/rejection rate of 10 percent. Even with that lowered rate, this practice is losing roughly $28,500 a month to unresolved denied claims. If two-thirds of those denied claims are recoverable, they stand to recoup $19,095 in reimbursements after the claims are corrected and resubmitted. Factor in the cost associated with reworking denied claims using the industry average of $25 per claim, and this practice is spending $4,750 in administrative charges alone to recover their own revenue. This brings their actual recovered revenue down to $14,155 per month or almost $170,000 annually. Investing in a comprehensive clinical coding and editing solution is still cheaper than what the practice spends per month when reworking denied claims.
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.
Check out our Denial Impact Assessment Calculator to see what your denials really cost your practice or contact us today for a free personalized Claims Assessment. See why ClaimStaker does more than clear claims. It gets claims paid.
We work hard to update our blog to keep you up-to-date on what’s happening in the field of medical billing software. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, please contact us.