Achieving a Stronger Denial and Appeal Management Strategy

Achieving a Stronger Denial and Appeal Management Strategy

Waystar’s newest guide investigates the state of denials and appeals in today’s healthcare landscape and explores how today’s most successful providers are redefining the core components of their denial and appeal process to grow revenue, streamline workflows and revitalize their approach to the process.

Denial and appeal management today

Like many administrative tasks further burdened by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, denial and appeal management workflows dependent on manual processes are experiencing new strains on accuracy and productivity.

Last year a survey investigated how billing and administrative tasks were impacted by COVID-19, with 37% of surveyed providers reporting an increase in workloads due to issues with coding and requirements. An assessment of the general industry outlook found claim denial rates are at an all-time high, with 33% of surveyed hospital execs reporting concerns they are entering a “denials danger zone,” where rates grow to 10% or more.

Estimates put the cost of reworking denials as high as 20% of rev cycle expenses because on average they cost 4x as much to process than the initial claim. With so much strain already present on providers’ resources, many are turning to automation to ease the burden.

How automation elevates the process

Once a provider has been notified of a denied claim, steps are taken to identify whether or not it can be appealed. Many of the errors that cause denials come down to administrative issues that took place at the start of the claim lifecycle.

A recent analysis found 86% of the denials processed between July 2019 and June 2020 were avoidable. Analysis indicated that many of those issues stemmed from front-end errors related to benefit information, coverage detail, and shortcoming related to missing or invalid claim data.

While there’s a wide mix of problems that could cause a denial, with different providers experiencing a diversity of challenges depending on their location and patient population, they all face a common hurdle: the burden of manual denial management and appeal procedures put on administrative staff.

Like many other administrative processes, providers for the most part rely on a mix of manual and electronic procedures to handle denial and appeal management. But the industry’s continued reliance on manual procedures is beginning to have a negative effect.

How providers are transforming their approach to denial + appeal management

Studies have found that it costs about $118 in reworking fees to appeal a denied claim. These costs are exacerbated by the industry’s overall reliance on manual processes—a systemic issue many recognize yet fail to capitalize on. Indeed, while many providers see the promise automation can deliver on, they still face a number of considerations before pushing forward with implementing an automated solution.

And automation is a hot topic for providers for a very good reason—studies have demonstrated the US healthcare system could save as much as $16.3B by automating old or outdated processes. When it comes to denial and appeal management, the benefits are far-reaching, from improvements to productivity and a reduced strain on resources to huge boosts to claim accuracy and revenue recovery.

What to look for in a denial + appeal management solution

Leading-class solutions offer a wide selection of tools to provide a comprehensive approach to denial and appeal management, using customized, exception-based workflows to streamline the entire process and overturn a sizable increase in denials.

The appeal toolset a solution offers should make it easier to coordinate and use the info and data necessary to automatically process appeals and recover cash that would otherwise create productivity issues or unnecessary fees.

The solution’s ability to prioritize appeals based on cash value automatically lets staff concentrate on tasks that actually demand their attention, supporting them with additional tools like automatically generated payer-specific appeal forms and robust analytics capabilities that allow you to track and measure progress and problem areas.

Keeping disruptions at a minimum is key when considering your solution as well, so consider its ability to work efficiently with your existing systems and look for a partner that can demonstrate a strong history of seamless integrations.

Wrapping it up: why denial + appeal management solutions matters

A recent Waystar survey found 76% of providers categorized denials as their biggest RCM challenge. And the wider picture of healthcare reflects an industry struggling to solve a long-standing problem with manual processes and few answers.

Implementing an automated denial and appeal management solution is quickly becoming the optimal path forward for most providers, even if many have apprehensions about committing to the switch. But as new innovations cut down on the resources and time needed to implement the tech, the time is quickly approaching where the switch will be easier, and more vital, than ever before.

Click here to find out how Waystar can help fully automate the process and help you recover more revenue while reducing the burden on staff.

Heading to AMBA in October?  Visit Waystar and EZClaim while you’re there!  Stay tuned for more event details.


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 Waystar ]

After Pandemic Impact on Outsourcing RCM

After Pandemic Impact on Outsourcing RCM

After Pandemic Impact and Outsourcing Revenue Cycle Management

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt in every industry for many months to come. For medical providers, they are facing some of the most challenging financial times they will or have known. Therefore, we understand that it is crucial for providers to re-access their business and look for ways to cut costs with minimal impact on their practice or their patients.

To compound the issues providers are facing, there has been a wave of changes in recent years with new coding and telemedicine requirements that are making it difficult for provider offices to remain independent. Add on the constant rise in the cost of living and expenses while insurance reimbursements continue to decrease, and the issues get worse and worse.

Many have decided that outsourcing to a complete revenue cycle management company could help alleviate some of the undue burdens, cut costs, and keep providers compliant with their coding and billing. Ultimately this allows providers to continue to focus on patient care, which is their goal. As providers, you understand that revenue cycle management is a crucial part of your physician’s office. If not managed properly, it could result in an office leaving thousands of dollars on the table in unclaimed revenue. Over the years, our free audit services have allowed providers to have a free, transparent, and unbiased assessment of how their accounts receivable department functions. We are always amazed at how many providers do their billing in-house, and sometimes even when they outsource,  are not aware of how much money they have sitting in their accounts receivables.  Getting this knowledge is the first step to increasing revenue and efficiency.

In-house medical billers and third-party outsourced revenue cycle management companies should be giving provider offices monthly aging reports to assess their financial forecast. Each accounts receivable bucket over 60 days should hover at approximately 1 0% or less of the entire revenue balance. If account receivable buckets are higher than 10%, providers may be leaving money on the table, and the account may not be getting worked as providers think they are. In efforts to avoid unpaid claims and a spike in accounts receivable, outsourcing your revenue cycle management to a third-party medical billing company, such as BC Medical Billing, could help providers in countless ways. Many practices recognize that keeping their revenue cycle management optimized is key in delivering regular practice operations; however, they are not always sure how to achieve that. Outsourcing may be the solution!

Outsourcing alleviates the practice from managing a new medical billing employee, paying a salary and benefits, completing training and onboarding protocols, and managing the lost time from a learning curve. Many providers feel that it is not a wise use of the back office executive personnel’s time to worry about finding coders in-house and then wondering if the charges are captured and billed correctly. Instead, the business office should be focusing on how to grow the providers and the physician practice.

Our free audits will help you determine if you have found the right solution for you. If not, we are always there to assist and always increase the provider’s 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 BC Medical Billing ]

Pandemic Impact and Outsourcing Revenue Cycle Management

Pandemic Impact and Outsourcing Revenue Cycle Management

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt in every industry for many months to come. For medical providers, they are facing some of the most challenging financial times they will ever know. Therefore, we understand that is it crucial for providers to re-assess their business and look for ways to cut costs with minimal impact on their practice of their patients.

To compound the issues providers are facing, there has been a wave of changes in recent years with new coding and telemedicine requirements that are making it difficult for provider offices to remain independent. Add on the constant rise in the cost of living while insurance reimbursements continue to decrease, and the issues get worse and worse.

Many have decided that outsourcing to a complete revenue cycle management company could:

    • help alleviate some of the undue burdens
    • cut costs
    • keep providers compliant with their coding and billing

Ultimately, this allows providers to continue to focus on patient care which is their goal. As providers, you understand that revenue cycle management is a crucial part of your physician’s office. If not managed properly, it could result in an office leaving thousands of dollars on the table in unclaimed revenue. Over the years, our free audit services have allowed providers to have a free, transparent, and unbiased assessment of how their accounts receivable department functions. We are always amazed at how many providers do their billing in-house, and sometimes even when they outsource, are not aware of how much money they have sitting in their accounts receivables. Getting this knowledge is the first step to increasing revenue and efficiency.

In-house medical billers and third-party outsourced revenue cycle management companies should be giving provider offices monthly aging reports to assess their financial forecast. Each accounts receivable buckets over 60 days should hover at approximately 10% or less of the entire revenue balance. If account receivable buckets are higher than 10%, providers may be leaving money on the table, and the account may not be getting worked as providers think they are. In an effort to avoid unpaid claims and a spike in accounts receivable, outsourcing your revenue cycle management to a third-party medical billing company, such as BC Medical Billing, could help providers in countless ways. Many practices recognize that keeping their revenue cycle management optimized is key in delivering regular practice operations; however, they are not always sure how to achieve that. Outsourcing may be the solution!

Outsourcing alleviates the practice from managing a new medical billing employee, paying a salary and benefits, completing training, and onboarding protocols, and managing the lost time from a learning curve. Many providers feel that it is not a wise use of the back office executive personnel’s time to worry about finding coders in-house and then wondering if the charges are captures and billed correctly. Instead, the business office should be focusing on how to grow the providers and the physician practice.

Our free audits will help you determine if you have found the right solution for you. If not, we are always there to assist and increase the provider’s revenue.

 

 

 

5 Medical Coding Challenges That Hurt Revenues

5 Medical Coding Challenges That Hurt Revenues

In the world of healthcare revenue cycle management, there are numerous scenarios that can put a stranglehold on your revenue if you’re not prepared. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing varying degrees of change in inpatient volumes and visits, and telemedicine coming further into play, physicians and their practices are having to quickly navigate the nuances of their financial well-being. A practice may be buttoned up from the time the patient walks in the door, but what happens after the visit will determine when the practice will get paid. This element of the revenue cycle starts with coding. Here are five medical coding challenges that will ruin your bottom line.

1. Coding to the Highest Specificity
Missing data on a claim relative to the patient’s diagnosis and procedure can easily cause a rise in denials once received by the payers, resulting in potentially thousands of dollars in write-offs. Medical coders are responsible for coding patients’ claims to the highest level of specificity, ensuring the appropriate CPT, ICD-10-CM, and HCPCS codes are applied based on the patient’s chart from the day’s services.

COVID-19 and telemedicine are frequently bringing on new codes and code sets, all with different variations and modifiers to make the matter even more complex. Medical coders spend a lot of time researching and learning new codes, but every year – and throughout the year – changes and updates are made. Payers don’t only want to know the diagnosis and the treatment; they want to know the cause as well. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act passed in March of 2020 allows for an additional payment from Medicare of 20 percent for claim billed for inpatient COVID-19 patients, however, it was later indicated that a positive COVID-19 test must be stored in the patient’s medical records in order to be eligible for this payment. Being able to stay on top of codes specific to the patient’s diagnosis at treatment is more difficult than ever before.

2. Upcoding
While code specificity is important, so too is ensuring the claims do not contain codes for exaggerated procedures, or even procedures that were never performed, resulting in reimbursement for these false procedures. This seems logical enough, but upcoding can easily occur as a result of human error, misinterpretation of a physician’s notes, or lack of understanding of how to appropriately assign the thousands of ICD-10-CM codes in existence. To add to the pressure, the Office of the Inspector General issued a plan with objectives to prevent fraud and scams, and remedy misspending of COVID-19 response and recovery funds.

Much like under-coding or not providing enough data on the patient’s visit can create issues, upcoding can be a major contributor to financial loss for a practice. Questionable claims can be denied and sent back for corrections and appeals, but upcoding can have more serious ramifications outside of paper-pushing between coders and payers.

Whether it’s making sure the codes are in accordance with the care provided, understanding the code sets that apply for each procedure, or comprehension of the medical record, refraining from upcoding will help ensure a sturdy and compliant revenue stream.

3. Missing or Incorrect Information
There’s a common theme to coding challenges, and that’s having the sufficient information necessary. This information typically is pulled from a patient’s chart or record of a visit, which is often completed by the attending physician. However, even when a claim is submitted, providing required information relative to the procedure to the payer is critical as well. Situations such as failure to report time-based treatments (such as anesthesia, pain management, or hydration treatments) or reporting a code without proper documentation can result in denials.

Furthermore, information in a patient’s electronic health record may also contain inaccurate information. Keystrokes and other human errors can cause these situations to flare up, and it takes a diligent, thoughtful coder to read between the lines and ensure claims have the appropriate information.

4. Timeliness of Coding
The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) suggested in their 2018 Setting Practice Standards report that a Primary Care Physician should maintain a claim submission rate of 3.11 days after the date of service, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for practices to sustain anything close to this rate. Constant changes to code sets, an increased focus on submitting claims with sufficient and compliant information, and the requirement to code claims to the highest level of specificity, can easily delay the submission by days or weeks.

Nevertheless, delays in coding and submitting claims can cause major lags in payment and substantial loss in revenue. Insurance payers have statutes of limitations that require claims to be submitted anywhere from 120 to just 60 days after the date of service. Simply put – the more time spent coding the claim, the later it will be submitted, thus increasing the odds that the claim will be denied. Expert coders are aware of this and do everything in their power to get coded claims out the door.

5. Staffing Shortages
However, finding experts well versed in coding claims quickly, accurately and in compliance with the False Claims Act is not always an easy task. As you can imagine, the increasing need for care within the senior population is causing a rise in claim volumes, and trying to find a team of coders who know the ins and outs of complex ICD-10-CM coding can easily cause a bottleneck in the revenue cycle. Health executives expressed their struggles to find talent back in 2015, and some forecasts expect a decline in commercial payments by 2024 to further hamper a C-suite’s ability to manage labor costs. The ramifications of incorrect coding are still a key topic of discussion to this day.

The time has come for practices to begin looking outside of their organization for coding support. How is your practice planning to tackle the coding conundrum? When choosing a partner for your medical coding needs, you need to pick an expert to help your practice stay on target. TriZetto Provider Solutions, a Cognizant Company, has available highly-trained, AAPC & AHIMA certified coders with the experience of getting the details right the first time and understand the importance of coding to the medical practice.

For more information about TriZetto Provider Solutions, a partner of EZClaim, visit their website, contact them, or give them a call at 800.969.3666.


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.

[ Contribution of the TriZetto Provider Solutions Editorial Team ]

EZClaim’s Best Blog Posts of 2020

EZClaim’s Best Blog Posts of 2020

It goes without saying that 2020 will go down in the history books as unprecedented for us at EZClaim. Still, we worked hard to stay positive and navigate the storm by offering resources to you, our clients, the content that matters to you. As an end-of-year bonus, and a ‘kick-off’ for 2021, we reviewed the blogs and social posts you read and reacted to the most and thought we would share them.  

 

So, here are the best blog posts of 2020:

#1: How to Improve Medical Billing Revenues
As a medical billing company, we work hard to understand how we can help our clients increase their revenue and improve their billing process. Those who do this best are experts in the medical billing and coding industry. So, it makes complete sense that your interest peaked on our article concerning improving revenues. Enjoy reviewing our number one article of 2020!  [ Click to read the post ].

#2: What Will Be New for E/M Coding in 2021? 
Last year brought about a long list of changes to billing and coding, as well as, the medical industry as a whole. From the obvious boom in Telehealth, to the updates in evaluation and management services, those working in the industry were impacted immensely. Based on these shifts in industry and the impact on you, our clients, we thought a look into what was coming in 2021 would be useful—and so did you. You read, reacted, and shared the value of this content with others. Now we are sending you a reminder that this was our number two article for the year.  [ Click to read the post ].

#3: Collecting Payments from Patients. Find Out How.
No matter how chaotic things get, there is still a practical side of our industry that needs to be addressed. That is why we worked to keep the focus on the basics, speaking about the ‘bread and butter’ of our industry, collections. In this practical article, we focused on the keys to educating the patient and how doing so will help keep you ahead of the collection as a whole.  [ Click to read the post ].

#4: Reports – Nuisance or Necessity?
At the end of the day, you want to go home and no one wants to be stuck in the office doing double-duty on reports. You know as well as we, that getting reports done correctly the first time is key to reducing stress and going home happy. That is why we distilled some of the keys in running reports that would make your life more straightforward. The fourth article on our list will do just that by helping you make sure the dates, details, and destination of your reports are in the right place.  [ Click to read the post ].

#5: Why Do I Have A Balance? – Patient Payments
Saving the best for last, especially as we approach tax season, we come in with our final of our best of 2020 by talking about balances. Every practice ends up spending those final hours of the year figuring out where those dollars and cents went. In this article, we gave you tips on deductibles, co-pays, and max out-of-pocket that helps your bottom line. Closing out 2020, don’t miss a few keys to help you balance the books.  [ Click to read the post ].

 

These are EZClaim’s best blog posts of 2020, but these were not the only blog posts we did. So, if you would like to explore the other blog posts we did, click here for our blog page.

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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 support, or call a sales representative today at 877.650.0904.