Bad Billing Habits to Kick This Year
In our experience working with hundreds of mental health providers on their insurance billing, we’ve encountered a few common mistakes that can yield claim denials and rejections, write-offs, and ultimately lost revenue for your practice. In this article, we will address some of the bad billing habits that we see fairly frequently, and how you can avoid them. It’s the season of making resolutions and starting fresh, and what better way to start the New Year than to set some healthy goals for your business!
Not Making Full Use of Your EHR
Something that we see often is that providers are not making full use of the capabilities of their EHR. Data fields are often incomplete, reports are not being generated and reviewed, information is out of date, or settings are not adjusted to meet your needs. Typically, this either comes from not having enough time to keep the EHR up to date or because providers don’t know everything that the EHR has to offer.
Utilizing and understanding more of the functions in your EHR can make billing easier because when you have all of the information input and up to date in your system, generating claims becomes easier. It is also more likely that the claims will process cleanly when you have complete and accurate information in your EHR that is used when generating claims. Reviewing aging reports can help you have a better understanding of outstanding claims and can be a useful tool in projecting revenue. Ensuring that your system is set up to send and receive electronic claims and remittances can speed up the claim submission process.
If any of these things sound like a foreign language, we recommend accessing the help or support section of your preferred EHR. Our top pick is TherapyNotes, and they have very detailed articles and videos on their support page that can unlock some of the potential that your EHR has that you may not be fully aware of. If you are reading this thinking “This is all well and good, but I don’t have the time for that!” then you may want to consider hiring an administrative assistant that can help maintain your EHR, schedule appointments, and other tasks for your practice. Another option is to hire a biller; at Practice Solutions, we help to make sure that your EHR system has all the proper settings for billing and that TherapyNotes is ready to send and receive electronic claims and remittances.
Not Performing E&B Checks
While eligibility and benefit checks, also called verification of benefits, are only estimates provided by the insurance company, having any information is better than no information when it comes to communicating with your patients about the cost of services. An E&B check will give you information on what you can expect to receive from the insurance company for payment, and will also provide you with information on what your patient will owe for the session. Performing the check before your patient’s session can also help determine that the patient’s plan covers any services that you would provide. This way, if your services are not covered you can have a conversation with that patient prior to them showing up for their appointment.
Not Collecting Patient Insurance Cards
If you are submitting claims to insurance for a patient, you should have a copy of their insurance card on file. This card has lots of valuable information that can help in the billing process, and collecting the card up front is a lot easier than trying to track it down after a session. Even if you input this information into your EHR system, we also recommend that you upload a picture of the front and back of the patient’s card so that you can refer back to it if there are any issues. Having the card for reference is a great way to combat the inherent dangers of human error in data entry!
Ignoring Emails from the Insurance Company
When you contract with an insurance company, they can be thought of as your boss- they’re the ones that cut the check after all! Would you ignore an email from your boss? Emails from insurance companies are not just for grins and giggles- they are often conveying important information pertinent to conducting business. They could be reminding you to renew your credentialing status, which if not completed could result in an Out of Network status. They could be informing you of new legislation that may change the way that things need to be reported or billed, or they could be sharing with you a change in their processes that you may not need now, but could be helpful in the future.
Our recommendation is to create a folder within your inbox where you store information from the insurance company. Make sure that none of these emails have made it into your spam folder! Before putting that email into a folder, make sure that you read through the email for any pertinent information. Some information may indeed be irrelevant to you, however the short amount of time that it takes to scan an email for the important information could save you a later headache, particularly if they are reminding you about re-credentialing! If there is anything that seems important but that you don’t fully understand, reach out to your provider representative at the insurance company for further information.
Getting Behind on Your Notes
We have an entire article featured on TherapyNotes’ website addressing ways that you can stay on top of your notes. If you get behind, it can be hard to dig yourself out of that hole and you put yourself at risk of not meeting timely filing deadlines. Allotting yourself with daily blocks of time to work on notes can help keep you on track. Remember, no note = no claim = no payment.
Spending More Time Billing than With Patients
We know that your patients are your first priority. You should be maximizing the amount of time that you can follow your calling in the mental health field! If you’re finding that keeping track of billing is time intensive and that you’re spending too much time on hold with an insurance company, it may be worth investing in a billing company! Our whole business model is developed around wanting to give providers more time with their patients. Reach out to us today and see how we can help alleviate the burden of billing.