With April well underway, we’ve entered the season of renewal. Just as April showers bring May flowers, practice improvement efforts in April can reap positive impacts over the rest of the year.
Make this that year that your medical practice’s “spring cleaning” goals cover more than just purging the fridge and reorganizing your office. It’s wise to invest in optimizing operations across your medical billing, administrative, and practice management concerns now; April not only launches Q2 2016, it kicks off the cyclical seasonality of most medical offices: Once your staff comes back from any Spring Break travels, they’ll only be in-office (and all-hands on deck) until their Summer plans pull them away again. As soon as you staff back up to capacity, a busy Autumn will pass in a flash before the pressure-filled holiday season is upon you.
In sum, now is a great time of year – and perhaps the only time of year – to make positive changes happen on the business and patient-service sides of your practice. Here are our tips on driving better efficiency and outcomes in each area of your operations.
The Waiting Room: Beyond freshening up the waiting room (and replacing those People Magazines from 1992), take time to consider the experiences of patients entering your office, with an eye for efficiency: How long is it taking your office to notice that new arrivals have signed in? How many new patients are bringing completed paperwork with them, versus filling it out in-office? Talk to some patients about their experiences and consider how new technology – such as a patient check-in kiosk or an EHR-connected patient portal – can streamline the waiting game.
The Front Desk: Next, see how well you’re utilizing your front office staff on a day-to-day basis. Are they conducting insurance verifications and eligibility checks in advance of patient encounters? Are they facilitating referrals appropriately and returning patients’ messages in a timely manner? If your staff claims they don’t “have time” to do all the optimizing tasks mentioned above, determine the source of the bandwidth issue; your team may be understaffed, undermanaged, or poorly resourced (and only you can figure out the problem).
The Exam Room: Revisit the patient experience: How long are people sitting in the waiting room before hearing their names called? After the nurse gives them a once-over, how long does the doctor take to knock on the door? In truly efficient practices, patients receiving routine care, treatment, or check-ups go from checked-in to checked-out within forty-five minutes of their appointment time. If you’re experiencing recurring lags, find out who’s at fault – be it the physician lingering too long during (or after) the appointments, or the front desk creating unnecessary scheduling mishaps – and rectify the problem. At minimum, review common visit lengths and try to time encounters to the most reasonable estimates possible.
The Back Office: Your billing and coding departments can be hotbeds of inefficiency, so conduct an across-the-board audit of your back-office efforts and associated results. What are your claim denial and resubmission rates? How long is it taking payers to reimburse your practice? Are your billers following up on each denial to earn you every dollar you deserve? Review your KPIs heading into Q2 (and Qs 3 and 4) and then perform a cost-benefit analysis of the smartest strategies for overall revenue growth.
Contact NCG Medical Billing today to start making your patient billing efforts more streamlined!
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