Billing patients and insurance companies is a time-consuming and potentially frustrating process. Every PT practice must send out bills. The trick is finding a way to do it that’s as close to optimal as possible.
At HENO, we understand the realities of physical therapy billing because we do it every day. It’s part of what led us to create HENO, the all-in-one solution to manage your physical therapy practice.
The good news is that we’ve learned a few things along the way. Here are 6 ways to optimize your practice’s physical therapy billing process.
#1: Gather Patient Insurance Information Before the First Treatment
When a patient arrives for an appointment, is your staff pressed for time as they collect insurance and billing information? It’s a common problem and can be vexing when a patient shows up just a few minutes before their first scheduled treatment.
The first thing you can do to optimize your billing process is to encourage patients to fill out forms online. Make sure to include fields for their insurance carrier and policy information. That way, you can verify the information and correct mistakes before they arrive at your office.
#2: Encourage Payment of Copays and Patient Financial Arrangements Up Front
One of the trickiest aspects of physical therapy billing is that it includes two parts: patient billing and insurance company billing. Fortunately, you can virtually eliminate the first part of the billing process by enabling patients to pay up front.
Most patients with insurance will have a copay as part of their policy. When patients take care of that payment at the time of the visit, it means your staff won’t need to bill it after the fact. Sending a bill after treatment is over is a really good way to upset a once happy patient. Giving the patient the opportunity to pay up front (either collecting at each treatment visit or collecting for the full cost of care) gives them full financial clarity and zero room for ambiguity in the long-term.
Of course, there may be times when a patient doesn’t pay up front, but you can eliminate a lot of work by implementing a payment system for patients.
#3: Audit Your Current Billing System
Physical therapy billing can be complicated. Even an experienced employee can have an off day where they make a mistake as they enter a code. It happens all the time.
If your goal is to optimize your billing process, it’s a good idea to start with areas that could be improved. The best way to find those is to audit what you’ve got now and create optimization goals based on what you find.
For example, if you find that superbills are creating significant data entry errors, you’ll need to think about what you can do to minimize mistakes and ensure accuracy. That way, you won’t need to worry about insurance company denials and rebilling.
#4: Train Your Staff
You’ve already trained your staff, right? But, here’s the thing. If you want your physical therapy practice to run efficiently, you must consider training to be an ongoing endeavor – not something that’s done once and then forgotten.
Identifying issues with your current billing processes can help you pinpoint areas where your staff needs additional training. Talking to the people who handle your billing can help you learn what areas of the process are frustrating to them. Armed with that information, you can require additional training or seek out solutions that will help them do a better job.
#5: Recreate Your Billing Processes
As you retrain your staff, you should ask for their input and rebuild your billing processes from the ground up. Things that are already working can be maintained – unless someone comes up with a better idea. At the same time, anything that’s not working should be reconceived.
It’s essential to write down your new billing processes and build guidelines for current and future employees to use as a reference. We find that many physical therapy practices are hamstrung by poorly defined or unwritten processes. You can avoid that issue by writing everything clearly and ensuring that all staff members have a copy of your billing process.
#6: Automate Your Billing
The final thing you can do to optimize your physical therapy billing process is to automate your billing. Some physical therapists still create bills manually. The problem with that is that in can lead to:
Data entry errors
Missed bills and charges
Slow cash flow
Issues with insurance
Instead of dealing with all that, consider that automation can minimize errors, reduce the risks of insurance company denials and rebilling, and ensure that you have a steady flow of revenue coming in to your practice.
Optimizing your practice’s billing process can save you time and money while creating a better experience for your patients. The 6 suggestions we’ve included here can help you achieve that goal, especially when you have a reliable software to help you. HENO is designed to be an all-in-one physical therapy practice management solution you can use to optimize your billing and streamline every other aspect of your practice.
To schedule a free demo of HENO for your practice, please click here now.
Samantha has been a dedicated member of the HENO team since August 2017. As our billing specialist, she’s here to help you update your practice’s current processes with accurate and up-to-date billing and reporting.