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.
There are five ‘phases’ in the life cycle of a medical bill: Pre-appointment; Point of care; Claim submission; Insurance payment or denial; and Patient payment. This post will overview each of these phases, and could even be considered to be a “101-level” course on Revenue Cycle Management.
With high deductible health plans on the rise, the recent explosion of telehealth appointments due to COVID-19, and many other factors in play, it’s more important than ever for everyone to understand the life cycle of a medical bill, and how the process works. The healthcare revenue cycle is relevant not only to those who work in healthcare, but to the patient, too.
The revenue cycle is the series of processes around healthcare payments—from the time a patient makes an appointment to the time a provider is paid—and everything in between. One way to think of it is in terms of the life cycle of a medical bill. Although there are many ways this process can play out, this post will lay out a common example below:
For most general care, the first stage of the revenue cycle begins when a patient contacts a provider to set up their appointment. Generally this is when relevant patient information will begin to be collected for the eventual bill, referred to on the financial side of healthcare as a claim.
At this point a provider will determine whether the appointment and procedure will need prior authorization from an insurance company (referred to as the payer). Also, the electronic health record (EHR) used to help generate the claim is created, and will begin to accumulate further detail as the provider sends an eligibility inquiry to check into the patient’s insurance coverage.
2. Point of care
The next step in the process begins when the patient arrives for their appointment. This could include when a patient arrives for an initial consultation, an outpatient procedure, or for a follow-up exam. This could also include a Telehealth appointment.
At any of these events, the provider may charge an up-front cost. One example of this is a co-pay, which is the set amount patients pay after their deductible (if they are insured), however, there are other kinds of payments that fall into this category, too.
3. Claim submission
After the point of care, the provider completes and submits a claim with the appropriate codes to the payer. In order to accomplish that, billing staff must collect all necessary documentation and attach it to the claim. After submitting the claim to the payer, the provider’s team will monitor whether a claim has been been accepted, rejected, or denied.
[ Note: Medical coding refers to the clerical process of translating steps in the patient experience with reference numbers. The codes are normally based on medical documentation, such as a doctor’s notes or laboratory results. These explain to a payer how a patient was diagnosed and treated, and why. This information helps the payer decide how much of an encounter is covered under any given insurance plan, and therefore how much the payer will pay. ]
4. Insurance payment or denial
Once the payer receives the claim, they ensure it contains complete information and agrees with provider and patient records. If there is an error, the claim will be rejected outright and the provider will have to submit a corrected claim.
The payer then begins the review process, referred to as adjudication. Payers evaluate claims for accurate coding and documentation, medical necessity, appropriate authorization, and more. Through this process, the payer decides their financial obligation. Any factor could cause the payer to deny the claim.
If the claim is approved, the payer submits payment to the provider with information explaining details of their decision. If the claim is denied, the provider will need to determine if the original needs to be corrected, or if it makes more sense to appeal the payer’s decision.
Following adjudication, the payer will send an explanation of benefits (EOB) to the patient. This EOB will provide a breakdown of how the patient’s coverage matched up to the charges attached to their care. It is not a billing statement, but it does show what the provider charged the payer, what portion insurance covers, and how much the patient is responsible for.
5. Patient payment
The next phase occurs when the provider sends the patient a statement for their portion of financial responsibility. This stage occurs once the provider and payer have agreed on the details of the claim, what has been paid, and what is still owed.
The last step occurs when a patient pays the balance that they owe the provider for their care. Depending on the amount, the patient may be able pay it all at once, or they might need to work with the provider on a payment plan.
The above example represents one way the lie cycle of a medical bill can play out. Some of the ‘phases’ are often repeated. Because of the complexity of healthcare payments and the parties involved, there is not always a ‘straight line’ from patient care to complete payment. That’s why we call it the revenue cycle, and there are companies that provide systems for its management.
One of EZClaim’s partners, Waystar, aims to simplify and unify healthcare payments. Their technology automates many parts of the billing process laid out above, so it takes less time and energy for providers and their teams, and is more transparent for patients (Click here to learn more about how Waystar automates manual tasks and streamlines workflows.) When the revenue cycle is operating at its most efficient, providers can focus their resources on improving patient care—and that’s a better way forward for everyone!
For more information of how Waystar works together with EZClaim, click here.
[ Article and image provided by Waystar ]
EZClaim is a medical billing and scheduling software company that provides a best-in-class product, with correspondingly exceptional service and support, and can help improve medical billing revenues. To learn more, visit their website, e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call a representative today at 877.650.0904.