Medical billing and coding for your dental practice can seem overwhelming. Taking a proactive approach to your medical billing process can save costs and lead to increased revenue for your dental practice. Being proactive means preventing problems before they happen. This can be done by establishing a clear collections process for patients, minimizing claims and coding errors, quickly responding to denied claims, and staying informed on the latest healthcare regulations. If these steps are not giving you the results you want, outsourcing to a professional company is also an option.
Establish a Clear Process for Payment Collection
A step-by-step process for payment collection should be available for patients upon entering your dental practice. Patients should have a clear understanding of what they should be expected to pay at their visit. This can be done by providing an agreement in their new-patient paperwork. Some practices also post signage to remind patients that they may be responsible for copays or out-of-pocket costs at the time of their visit.
Another way to ensure that payment is collected is to be sure the patient demographics and contact information is correct. Patient addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information should be verified at each visit. When insurance is verified with patients, make it a habit to also very eligibility. Patients may be mailed a bill for services, but also consider options for electronic billing via patient portals or a website.
Electronic billing can be an easier, hassle-free way for patients to pay their bills and can avoid missed or late payments. This can save time from a team member making follow-up payment calls. Ensure patients are aware of the various ways that they can pay for services, including financing options or other payment plans, and the methods of payment accepted at your dental practice.
Minimize Claim and Coding Errors
It can be easy to make a medical bill error. If a medical claim is rejected, the cycle for acceptance can take weeks to receive insurance reimbursement. Common sources of error to be aware of include incorrect patient information (name, birth date), incorrect billing information, duplicate billing, poor provider documentation of dental visit or procedure and missing procedural codes.
Double-check claims prior to submitting for diagnosis code errors. ICD codes should be specific to avoid claim denials. An article in Business News Daily calls auditing for errors “scrubbing,” which “generates cleaner claims, a reduction in denials and improved payor communication.” The article also suggests using technology as a way of error prevention.
Certain software automates steps in the claims process, such as “suggesting medical codes” and “checking medical claims against common insurance payor rules.” Use of this technology can save your practice time and money. The cost of the software and the time invested in training your team to use it can usually be recovered by the added revenue you will realize from reduced coding errors.
Respond to Denied and Rejected Claims
It is important to differentiate between rejected claims and denied claims. Claims can be rejected due to an error, like an incorrect patient name or incorrect insurance identification number. In that case, the claim could be resubmitted. It is an avoidable process that costs your dental practice more time and money.
A claim that has been denied has been deemed unpayable by the insurance company, usually due to contract terms. A denied claim may be appealed by the patient. This is a lengthy process for the patient and the dental practice, and may require more documentation on the part of the practice. Regardless of the reason for rejection or denial, prompt handling of the claim will result in faster reimbursement. Be ready to cooperate with patients who appeal rejected claims in order to facilitate faster payment.
Healthcare is constantly changing and so are best patient care practices. To maximize your dental practice’s revenue, you should stay updated on the latest healthcare and dental care regulations. Medicare billing regulations are important to follow. It is likely that a significant amount of your patient population is covered by Medicare, and thus, errors could affect reimbursement rates.
Also, keep updated on problem patient payment accounts. For example, patients whose accounts are routinely late or are behind in payments should be regularly reminded to make payments, or possibly outsourced to a collection agency. Using the latest billing and coding software, as mentioned above, can also help you keep track of problem patients and make routine contacts to remind them of payment.
A vast amount of work goes into running a dental practice. From patient management to staff management to billing and claims management, there is a lot to manage! Sometimes, errors can fall through the cracks when there are so many other concerning issues, leading to denials, rejections and decreased revenue. Outsourcing medical billing to a professional company that specializes in these services can have several benefits.
Strategic Practice Solutions can offer dedicated staffing to handle claims processing, allowing you to have more time to focus on patient care. They are completely knowledgeable about the most recent healthcare rules and dental care regulations, so you do not have to worry about missing important information and updates. Other benefits include faster claim submissions and decreased claim errors. These professionals know dental coding and claims, and especially the most problematic ones. They can prevent many coding and billing problems that cause you headaches.