Although Telemedicine has been around for years, it was really the COVID-19 pandemic that expedited the need for implementing these services rapidly and on a larger scale.
According to Medicaid.gov “telemedicine seeks to improve a patient’s health by permitting two-way, real time interactive communication between the patient, and physician or practitioner at the distant site.” This can be accomplished via telephone, video calls, or through web-based applications utilizing a microphone and video camera.
In our previous article, 4 Ways Telehealth Has Changed the Landscape of Patient Care, we discussed ways practitioners can provide safe, necessary patient care while providing a cost-effective alternative to augment revenue.
To assist in navigating telemedicine/telehealth, we’ve provided five telehealth links for providing healthcare.
1. Telehealth for Providers: What You Need to Know
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provides a 17-page document with electronic links for telehealth and telemedicine. This resource is for providers who wish to establish permanent programs. It includes links to vendors, patient monitoring, documentation tools, etc.
2. CMS List of Telehealth Services
The CMS have made available resources for medical billing and coding. This resource link contains the 2022 medical coding schedule for allowed services for Medicare telehealth services.
3. How to Get or Provide Remote Health Care
The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) provides information for both patients and providers on telehealth services. Providers can get information on remote care, find recent COVID-19 reimbursement, billing, and policy changes.
4. Introduction to Telehealth for Behavioral Health
The HRSA provides information on getting started with providing Behavioral Telehealth. This may also be referred to as telebehavioral health, telemental health, telepsychiatry, or telepsychology. There are resources for developing a Telehealth strategy, billing, and preparing patients along with many other resources.
5. Is Telehealth Viable for Mental Health Needs Post-Pandemic?
The American Association of Post-Acute Care Nursing (AAPACN) provides an in-depth article meant to help nursing home facilities walk thru providing mental and behavioral healthcare in its facilities. Prior to COVID-19, long-term care facilities didn’t see the need for technology. COVID-19 proved that by utilizing smaller technology, such as iPads, residents are able to get safe, immediate mental and behavioral health care.
MedCycle Solutions provides Revenue Cycle Management, Credentialing, Outsourced Coding, and Consulting Services to a number of healthcare providers in a variety of specialties. To find out more about MedCycle Solutions services please visit www.MedCycleSolutions.com.
By Ranadene Tapio, MBA, CMRS, CPCS
As healthcare delivery gets more complex, patient reimbursement decreases, and patient demand increases, practices are forced to reevaluate their revenue cycle management (RCM) process.
Some people underestimate the importance of effective revenue cycle management. RCM is the lifeblood of your practice. It determines almost all key performance indicators and practice health.
Along with the obvious indicators, here are six positive impacts that effective revenue cycle management has on a healthcare practice.
- Collections. An effective RCM process will include a strategy for collections. This should include prompt reminders, multiple payment options and other collections best practices.
- Productivity. A commonly overlooked benefit of an effective RCM strategy is increased productivity for your staff. Your team will be able to spend less time chasing collections, correcting erroneous codes and reinventing the wheel. A well laid out process will be easy to follow and more efficient.
- Team morale. Along with increased productivity, you’re likely to see a boost in team morale as a direct benefit of a defined RCM process. When employees are productive and accomplishing goals, they are happier and find more satisfaction in their work. It’s a win/win!
- Bottom line. Possibly the best benefit of optimizing your RCM is an improved bottom line. You’ll be collecting more, spending less, attracting more patients and being more productive. Whether they’re hard benefits or soft benefits, they’ll have an impact on your bottom line.
- Patient satisfaction. With a well formulated plan in place, your practice will be running more efficiently and effectively. Patients will notice the difference that comes in better efficiency, communication and processes. In many practices, these benefits are noticed by the patients in the forms of less wait time, quicker registration and overall a more organized delivery of care.
- Compliance. An effective RCM process helps ensure compliance and protection of patient data. When a process is followed, fewer errors are made, which leads to fewer compliance issues.
Is your RCM process optimized? Is it well-developed, well-defined, and well-understood by your staff? Are you reaping the benefits of a healthy revenue cycle management process?
There are many great organizations that can help you in these areas – MedCycle Solutions is one of them. If you’re wondering how partnering in these areas could work for your practice, let’s connect.
Ranadene (Randi) Tapio, MBA, CMRS, CPCS is the Founder and CEO MedCycle Solutions, which provides Revenue Cycle Management, Credentialing, Outsourced Coding, and Consulting Services to a number of healthcare providers in a variety of specialties. To find out more about MedCycle Solutions services please visit www.MedCycleSolutions.com. You can reach Randi via email at Randi@MedCycleSolutions.com or call 320-290-6448.
By: Winona Thomas BS HCS
According to Kaiser Health News, there has been a spike in retroactive denials for emergency department care and more patients are being caught in the middle of possibly becoming responsible for unresolved hospital bills.
Healthcare providers along with healthcare payers are finding challenges with keeping up with the evolving government guidelines for correct claim submissions of COVID-19 billing procedures. Challenges such as unnecessary claim denials, underpayment of claim payments or payment delays, and retroactive claim denials may pay tribute to increased volumes of patient billing.
In an article written in the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), Revenue Cycle leaders provide 4 tips to keep ahead of denials amid the pandemic.
- Pinpoint the most at-risk areas – Identify areas where providers are most likely to have difficulties keeping track of varying payer requirements introduced a new level of intricacy to claim processing.
- Strengthen team communications – As the workforce transitioned to a remote environment due to the pandemic, for health systems, that meant remote revenue cycle processes had not been fine-tuned across functions, presenting challenges for areas such as customer service and claim processing.
- Proactively manage relationships with payers – An organization’s ability to identify changes to payer rules around COVID-19 and telehealth claims, in real time, and keep staff informed on the variances in billing rules by payer is essential to denials prevention.
- Increase payment flexibility for patients – Health systems ramped up patient payment options — from self-service options to payment plan offerings – to ease consumers’ financial fears ex
One of the key components for healthcare providers is to be proactive with the implementation of new revenue cycle processes and procedures to facilitate improved payment and denial management strategies with healthcare payers and the consumer population.
Winona L. Thomas, BS HCS is an Account Specialist and Writer at MedCycle Solutions, which provides Revenue Cycle Management, Credentialing, Outsourced Coding, and Consulting Services to a number of healthcare providers in a variety of specialties. To find out more information about MedCycle Solutions services, please visit www.MedCycleSolutions.com.
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.
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.
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 ]
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 ]