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 ]

Processes for Rejections & Denials – RCM Insight

Processes for Rejections & Denials – RCM Insight

Last month we looked at tools for getting clean claims out the door on the first try.  Many billers or practices stop monitoring claims once the leave the practice management program, but this is where you are likely losing money. The unfortunate truth is you need to use the tools available to you to catch rejected and denied claims to ensure proper and timely payment.  Today we will look at rejections and denials, and the resources you have (or need) to work efficiently.

The terms rejection and denial are used interchangeably in the billing world but they have distinct differences, including how you are notified.  Let’s start with defining the differences.

Rejected Claims

  • Claims can be rejected by the clearinghouse OR the payer
  • Rejections are based on submission guidelines
  • Rejected claims have not been entered into your payers system for adjudication
  • Notified through a claim status report (ANSI 277) that comes back into most practice management programs from the clearinghouse
  • Corrections do not require a resubmission code

Denied Claims

  • Claims are denied by your payer
  • Denials are based on policy coverage
  • Denials have been accepted for adjudication and deemed unpayable
  • Notified on remittance advice (ANSI 835/ERA)
  • Payers may require a resubmission code and original reference number when submitting a corrected claim

If you are using a clearinghouse and receiving your claim status reports electronically, you will be notified quickly about rejected claims.  There are two ‘checkpoints’ that will look for errors.  The first is your clearinghouse, the second is the payer.

At each checkpoint claims will be Rejected or Accepted, these status updates come to you through a claim status report.  If your practice management system is able to process these reports (ANSI 277) your claims will be updated with the accepted or rejected information you will be able to correct any rejected claims within your practice management system.  When you see an error, start with checking who has rejected your claim.  This will be the point of contact if you have questions about the rejection or how to correct it. If you are not already, make it a daily task to get your reports, correct any rejected claims, and resubmit those claims.

When a claim has been accepted by your clearinghouse and the payer it enters the adjudication system.  This is where the payer will make a determination on payment based on the members coverage and your contract.  The denials will appear on your remittance advice with a payment or as a zero dollar payment, indicating that they have reviewed your claim and they have determined no payment is applicable.  If you are enrolled with you payer for electronic remittance advice (ERA) this file will come electronically and your practice management system will be able to list or identify denied claims.  These claims will either need to be researched further for clarification on the denial or written off.  It is vital that your practice management system can handle these scenarios appropriately so you do not lose money for payable services.

This is another scenario where technology can seem scary.  However, efficiently monitoring and working is well worth the learning curve.  If you are already sending electronically and not using the claim status report or electronic remittance advice – coordinate with your clearinghouse and practice management system to find out how these reports can save you time and money.

If you would like more information on creating workflows for rejections, denials, or enrolling with a clearinghouse, let RCM Insight help! Visit us at www.rcminsight.com to request a consultation.

[Contribution by Stephanie Cremeans with RCM Insight]

Insights from a Medical Billing Expert

Insights from a Medical Billing Expert

In this interview with a medical billing expert and co-owner of Elite Billing Resolutions, Vicky Greenwood, we talk about dealing with the challenges in owning a billing company, some important skills that every medical biller needs, and the value of choosing the right medical billing software. In our time speaking with Vicky, we focused on topics that will aid, contribute, and help grow the skills of the medical billing community. We at EZClaim believe in highlighting the best practices in the industry and sharing those with the larger community. We encourage you to consider these insights, and then let us know what topics you would like to learn more about.

 

EZCLAIM: When did you get into medical billing?
VICKY: “I started in 1994, and at the time we were working on a dinosaur of a system called, “Signature.” We would have to wait overnight to process the entire day’s work. Then we would return in the morning to see if there were any errors in the batch or denials in the claims, which meant being accurate in entering information was essential. Outside of that, we kept all our paperwork in filing cabinets, and they needed to be sorted and organized by date. If a date was off in the filing system it could take the better part of a day to find a patient’s claim. The difference between then and now is night and day. I am definitely thankful for technology.”

EZCLAIM: Why did you start Elite Medical Billing?
VICKY: “We started Elite Medical Billing because we wanted to be able to directly impact our medical practices with the services we provided, and we wanted the freedom to enjoy doing it for our clients. I also knew that I was experienced in the field, was competent at my job, and enjoyed doing what needed to be done to get practices paid. Once I honed those skills and knew we could do it. We hired a lawyer and an accountant, then formed our company.” 

EZCLAIM: What are challenges in starting a company?
VICKY: “First, you have to understand the value of time management and delegation. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. It is good to know when you need to ask for help. Next, you want to find good staff. I look for people who have the right attitude about the job first and have the characteristics to be proactive and work hard. Then, I look for experience in the field, learning if they had hands-on experience with claims, denials, and coordination of benefits is part of that. At the end of the day, my staff are my [company], and fortunately, most of my staff have been with me from the beginning.”

EZCLAIM: Why did you choose EZClaim?
VICKY: “We had a client who needed software and, being a smaller company, we needed cost-effective software with strong tech support. When we searched on Google for “easy to use medical billing software,” we found EZClaim. We were won over by the first phone call. Since then, we have been reminded of how great a decision that we made. The simplicity by which you can enter the information, process new patients, and ‘claim them’ within minutes is invaluable. That combined with the great customer service—that answers our questions most often on the first call with detailed answers—and video tutorial support is why we will continue to use and promote the software.”

EZCLAIM: Are you a member of AMBA and MMBA?
VICKY: “We joined the MMBA and AMBA in 2016 to help us certify our billing company. That process and the training, testing, and materials were amazing pieces of helping us get established and grow. In addition, the expos, webinars, and online support offer an abundance of information. Of course, the annual expos are both informative and a great work trip for team building and fun. We make it annually to the MMBA, but our next big goal is to go to the AMBA in Las Vegas!”

EZCLAIM: Have some final thoughts to offer fellow medical billers and business owners?
VICKY: “As a medical biller and owner, you have to be willing to talk with physicians. You need to show them the vouchers and documentation of your work. And it is important to communicate how they bill and how they can be sure to properly classify to get paid. You need to review what they have done in the past and how they can improve in the future by training staff.”

“You can also add value by making them the good guy and yourself the bad guy when dealing with patients and getting paid. We allow patients to call us directly, we answer the questions, and tell them how much they have to pay—then we forward the call to the office. Remember, at the end of the day, you have to show them the money. They work hard and they deserve to get paid.”


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.

Reducing Denials

Reducing Denials

Denials are a concern for every provider and institution. Denials stress every aspect of revenue cycle management as they eat away at the bottom line, stress cash flow, and subsequent operations, and drain and entangle administrative, clinical, and financial resources during appeals. IMO has the tools you need to aid in reducing denials.

Some estimates suggest that as much as 9% of claims are denied annually and with ~$3.6 Trillion in spending in 2018, ~$324 billion in claims were denied, initially. Fortunately, 63% of claims that were denied were recovered, but not without a cost.¹,²

A closer look at the causes for denials, suggests that missing or invalid claim data and medical coding accounted for 20% of denials.¹ Without a doubt, these mid-cycle and back end processes are critical components to efficient revenue cycle management. 

We understand how important it is for practice managers to align clinical descriptions documented at the point of care to the correct ICD-10CM codes to ensure accurate coding and appropriate reimbursement. 

IMO knows how challenging it can be to translate diagnoses documented in a provider’s clinical language to the appropriate ICD-10CM codes, especially when code sets change. 

Furthermore, we understand the risk to the bottom-line if diagnoses are not accurately captured when they are transferred between systems.

To help our customers tackle coding challenges, simplify their workflow, and manage risk, we developed IMO Core, our industry-leading clinical interface terminology.  

IMO Core can help billing and coding professionals streamline the process of transferring diagnoses and codes from the billing summary or EHR into the practice management system. Additionally, IMO Core helps maintain the clinical, diagnostic, and coding integrity of claims that originate from a different EHR system to help billing and coding professionals easily navigate through interoperability challenges. 

With IMO Core you can:  

Document more credibly

  • Maximize reimbursement by easily capturing secondary conditions
  • Reduce denied claims with accurate, specific diagnosis terminology
  • Increase Medicare Advantage reimbursement by identifying all HCC diagnoses and codes

 

Operate more efficiently

  • Quickly and accurately find and document diagnoses that are mapped to appropriate codes
  • Save time with diagnoses and codes that are automatically updated by IMO subject matter experts (SMEs)
  • Ensure accurate billing and coding with maintenance-free terminology that is always current 

 

About Intelligent Medical Objects

At IMO, we are dedicated to powering care as you intended, through a platform that is intelligent, intuitive, and intentional. Used by more than 4,500 hospitals and 500,000 physicians daily, IMO’s clinical interface terminology (CIT) forms the foundation for healthcare enterprise needs including effective management of EHR problem lists, accurate documentation, and the mapping of over 2.4 million clinician-friendly terms across 24 different code systems. 

We offer a portfolio of products that includes terminologies and value sets that are clinically vetted, always current, and maintenance-free. This aligns with provider organizations’ missions, EHR platforms’ inherent power, and the evolving vision of the healthcare industry while ensuring accurate care documentation and administrative codes. So, clinicians can get back to being clinicians, health systems can get reimbursed, and patients can more easily engage in their own care. As intended.

To learn more please contact Will Caldwell or visit: https://www.imohealth.com/schedule-a-demo/

  1. https://www.changehealthcare.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Change-Healthcare-Healthy-Hospital-Denials-Index.pdf
  2. https://www.meddata.com/blog/2017/10/26/medical-billing-statistics/

 

If you enjoyed this piece about reducing denials, be sure to read more informative articles from EZClaim and our partners.

Need Help With Your To-Do List?

Need Help With Your To-Do List?

Need Help With Your To-Do List?

Need help getting your To-Do list done? We have you covered!

With 2019 nearing its close, now is a great time to evaluate your revenue cycle management
and look for areas of improvement in the coming new year. Make 2020 the year you put the
focus back on your patients by automating your revenue cycle and improving your bottom line.
The best place to start is by ensuring you get your To-Do list done early!

Making the list is just like a New Year’s resolution: Easy to do but hard to complete without a
partner there to support you. The right solutions should be at the root of your strategy. EZClaim
and TriZetto Provider Solutions (TPS), a Cognizant Company, have the tools and support to
make a difference in your practice and can help you get through the list:

  1. Go digital – Check!
  2. Improve denials management – Check!
  3. Get paid faster – Check!

If these challenges are at the top of your 2020 To-Do list, get in touch with our revenue
cycle experts now to find out how we can help you check them off your list and make sure you
are ready to recoup all that you are owed in the coming new year.

In the meantime, download our infographic with the details of the financial and operational
benefits of getting your To-Do list done early this year.