Maximizing profitability and cash flow is a perpetual objective for successful medical practices. In a time of crisis, however, healthy practice revenues become even more critical.
Here we review the five key steps you can learn from and implement to optimize your practice’s profitability.
Leverage the financial resources that make sense for your practice. The CARES Act appropriated $100 billion in financial support for hospitals, physician practices and other healthcare providers through Health and Human Services Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. These funds were made available specifically to eligible providers for lost revenues or healthcare-related expenses due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s important for any provider or practice that’s experienced COVID-19-related difficulties to research and apply for financial resources to alleviate any financial pressures. Additionally, there are four separate loan programs the SBA has created or expanded especially for meeting needs that have arisen due to the pandemic. These programs include forgivable funding to help practices provide payroll and retain employees, emergency advances to offer economic relief, existing SBA debt relief, and more.
Increasingly everywhere and accessible today, telehealth services have become more valuable than ever. Powerful, efficient, and effective now and beyond the pandemic, limitless options are available when a practice implements a telehealth platform that works for them. If you’ve never offered the option of telehealth visits, it’s more important than ever before to consider incorporating it as part of your practice. The needs of patients are changing, and you can make sure you’re filling the gap for them by offering multiple treatment options. If you’ve avoided telehealth in the past due to reimbursement disparities, good news: CMS has made changes to the telehealth billing rules in your favor. During the pandemic, telehealth bears the same reimbursement rate as an in-office E/M visit. With convenient, accessible telehealth technology available and a ready willingness from patients to be treated remotely, now is the opportune moment to implement telehealth in your practice.
Your practice’s revenue cycle begins with front-end staff processes. If those processes are not as strong as they need to be, the ultimate consequences to practice revenues can be serious. Continue to examine your business operations, take the opportunity to make improvements, evaluate productivity, and be growth-minded around those operations, like:
- Optimizing front end staff processes, including eligibility and benefits verification
- Tightening prior authorization workflows to prevent denied claims, and
- Identifying and communicating deductibles to collect patient responsibility prior to service
Clinical operations are collectively experiencing a shift toward creating a safer environment for both patients and staff. Practices must decide whether to enforce measures like contactless patient intake, increased sanitation, architectural changes, COVID-19 screenings, changes to appointment scheduling and more. As each practice continues to move forward based on what makes the most sense for their employees and patients, the strength and efficacy of clinical operations will make a significant difference to revenues long-term.
Billing operations, or back-end office processes, remind us how every dollar continues to be crucial. Keep track of your key performance indicators (KPIs) to maintain a clear picture of where your practice stands financially and what direction you can expect to go in the days ahead. Track, measure and manage KPIs and back-end office processes from the time of submission all the way through A/R follow-up to keep your revenue cycle performing at a high level.
Don’t Leave Money on the Table
You may be seeing fewer patients now than before, and a number of staff members may be working from home. Fortunately, this circumstance also grants you the time and resources to address the weak points within your revenue cycle. Now is the ideal time to assess and tackle those tedious tasks that nobody wants to execute but everybody can appreciate it when it’s done. Your new action plan may look like this:
- Encounter Reconciliation: analyze open/saved encounters negatively affecting your KPIs
- Reduce Billing Lag: get caught up on charge entry
- Reduce Posting Lag: get caught up on payment posting
- Tasks: assess how many tasks come in each month, who resolves them, and whether your current task process is efficient
- Target Bad Debt
- Follow Up on All Claims
- Document Your Revenue Cycle Management Process
Eventually, the health crisis will pass, and more a normal patient flow will be phased back in at your practice. Thinking of the days to come will bring up some interesting and possibly difficult questions. Are you still going to have time to do everything you need to do once your regular patient volume is reinstated? It may be beneficial to conduct a staffing analysis to see if your practice can handle all the demands of full patient volume. And of course, you may want to evaluate the possibility of using external help.
CareCloud Central and CareCloud Complete provide a wide menu of features and services for CareCloud clients. Baseline offerings like Concierge, enhanced services available with Concierge Plus and more are waiting to help when you’re ready to explore delegating tedious back-end tasks like manually reviewing and entering charges or coding operative reports without superbills.
Your practice’s financial health depends on a variety of factors that aren’t always easy to manage – particularly during times of crisis. But learning from and implementing these five steps can get you on the road to success with optimal cash flow now and in the coming days.