Everyone’s Job in the Medical Practice Has an Impact on the Revenue Cycle

By Tom Tidwell
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Does your staff think those who work in the Billing Department are the only staff members responsible for the revenue cycle? If they do, you may want to have an impromptu staff meeting to discuss how everyone plays a role in the revenue cycle.

The front desk (administrative) staff, clinical staff, providers, billing staff and the practice manager all are important to ensuring the practice maximizes the revenue generated.

Some staff members may think the revenue cycle starts when the billing department receives the closed chart from the provider; however, this is not the case. The revenue cycle starts when a patient calls the office to schedule an appointment and continues until there is a zero balance on the patient’s billing account.

The front desk staff is responsible for:

  • Creating the patient’s medical record and obtaining the patient’s demographic and insurance information. They need to ensure the patient’s name is spelled exactly as it is on the insurance card. If this information is not entered correctly the claim will be rejected or denied.
  • Asking the patient at the appointment if there have been any changes in his or her personal information or insurance, and updating the demographics in the practice management system
  • Asking for a copy of the patient’s photo identification and insurance card at least every three months to ensure nothing has changed
  • Verifing insurance coverage and benefits prior to the patient’s appointment
  • Ensuring referrals and prior authorization have been obtained prior to appointment
  • Collecting the appropriate co-payment, deductibles and co-insurance on every patient at either check-in or check-out. If your office staff is not collecting the patient’s payment responsibility, the practice could be violating your participation agreement with the insurance payers.

If the appointment reminder phone call is made by a member of your staff, this is another opportunity that could enhance the revenue cycle. The front desk staff should be coordinating their reminder phone calls with the billing staff to determine if a patient has an outstanding balance. The reminder phone call should include a discussion of any unpaid balance and ask if they would like to settle that unpaid amount today using a credit card.

The clinical staff’s role includes appropriately documenting the medical record, to include vital signs, lab results and supplies used during a procedure. In many practices, the clinical staff takes on an additional role as “scribe” for the provider, which allows the provider more time for the patient encounter.

Those in physician and nonphysician provider roles must also appropriately document the patient encounter in the medical record to include prescriptions provided, lab or radiologic studies, orders, follow-up instructions, and similar comments. Their documentation is used to determine CPT and ICD-10 codes for the visit. The number of patients seen per day and the type of medical services provided is an important aspect of the revenue cycle.

The billing staff, whether in-house or outsourced, plays a major role in the revenue cycle. Their duties include:

  • Scrubbing the claim to ensure all CPT and ICD-10 codes are appropriate for the encounter
  • Entering charges in the practice management system in a timely manner
  • Submitting the claim to the clearinghouse for payment within timely filing deadlines of each insurance payer
  • Posting payments received from the patient and/or insurance payer
  • Sending patient statements on a monthly basis
  • Notifying the practice manager immediately when the payment is different than the contracted amount
  • Reviewing denials and submitting appeals in a timely manner
  • Communicating with the providers when trends are noticed in claims being denied

The practice manager’s responsibilities include such tasks as:

  • Ensuring adequate staff to handle the revenue cycle management process
  • Overseeing the entire revenue cycle process from scheduled appointment to payment
  • Ensuring the practice has appropriate policies and procedures pertaining to the revenue cycle
  • Preparing revenue cycle performance reports on a monthly basis and discussing with the physician leadership
  • Identifying trends that impact the financial health of the practice
  • Preparing a list of accounts to be turned over to a collection agency, or writing off the balance, and discussing this list with the providers
  • Regularly reviewing insurance contracts to ensure compliance, and attempting to negotiate better reimbursement
  • Ensuring all providers are credentialed with the insurance plans
  • Ensuring the computers, EMR, practice management system and other IT support equipment are updated to the latest version
  • Utilizing technology that may enhance your revenue cycle management, such as online insurance eligibility verification
  • Ensuring overpayments are refunded to the insurance payer or the patient in a timely manner

Tom Tidwell

Does your practice have a policy regarding a patient making a routine appointment if he or she has an outstanding balance? This may be a good topic to discuss with the physician leadership. All too often a patient may not be current with his or her payments, and the unpaid balance continues to grow.

As you can see, every staff member has some level of responsibility in the revenue cycle. It is truly a team effort, with each separate part dependent on the other. One weak link can cause negative effects on the revenue cycle, which ultimately will reduce revenue for the practice.

Concordis Practice Management can perform a Revenue Cycle Review of your entire process to ensure you are maximizing revenue, or perhaps provide insight into areas for improvement. Contact Concordis Practice Management today at 210-704-1014 for a consultation.