3 Ways to Increase Payment Velocity
Collect from your patients at the time of service and while they are in your office
Set up EFT for the insurance companies that you are in-network with
Start small and then grow big
One of the biggest challenges that you will face in private practice billing and credentialing is trying to crack the "speedy-payment-code". It is critical that you maintain a health cash flow, and part of that equation is making sure that you are getting payments as quickly as possible from those people and organizations that owe you money for your mental health services.
Maintaining a healthy revenue cycle will make you feel more confident in your services and will help sustain your private practice for the long term. This is beneficial, not only for your goals and hopes for your business, but it is also helpful for your community, vendors, and staff.
As you know and probably assume, insurance companies are notoriously difficult to obtain payment from and counting on that revenue can feel like a big risk. Sometimes that is a big risk.
But there are some very actionable things that you can do as the private practice owner that can help mitigate that risk and allow for you to feel comfortable with the revenue cycle in your private practice.
The first and most uncomfortable tip for maintaining a healthy revenue cycle is to collect from your patients at the time of service and while they are in your office. Often, this is easier said than done.
What if I am taking insurance and I am not sure if they owe for the deductible or the copay?
That is a good question! If you are unsure what the patient will owe there are several things that you can do to maintain fast payments and a good relationship with your patient.
1. You can keep a credit card on file as part of your office policies. Tell your patients that in order to see you they need to give you credit card information so that they don't have to worry about payment. This also helps if/when claims process differently than how you expect.
2. You can collect what you think the eligibility and benefits check said, with the understanding that insurance companies are accurate 70% of the time when relaying benefits information. Telling your patient that eligibility is a quote of benefits and not a guarantee of payment will help them to manage their expectations and won't surprise them even if the insurance company does
3. You can collect the deductible if you have a reason to believe that your patient will owe a deductible. If the claims process with just a copay, then you will have a credit from your patient which you can refund or you can apply to future sessions
Collecting from your patients can be a difficult prospect, especially if you feel that it will hinder the relationship. However, collecting from your patients while they are in your office will help with your revenue cycle management and ensure that your cash-flow is healthy.
If you struggle with that process you can make a script that you can go over with your patients or you can hire a VA or a mental health biller to have those kinds of conversations. You have options for developing those processes but you don't have an option not to collect from your patients.
You can establish the patient collections side and have a lot of latitude with your patients, but what about with the insurance companies. How can you have control over them?
The short answer is that you can't control the insurance companies, but you can control how and in some cases when they pay you.
Set up EFT for the insurance companies that you are in-network with.
By establishing an EFT relationship with the insurance companies that you are in-network with you are guaranteeing that money will come directly into your ban account when the claims process. In private practice, this can make or break your success.
There are documented instances when a mental health provider will provide services and then won't get paid for months because the insurance company didn't get the address right. You do not want to be in that situation. Rather, you want to be paid immediately for your services.
Insurance companies are big and can make mistakes, therefore you will want to limit the amount of mistakes they can make and get paid directly.
However, there is a risk here. If the insurance company makes a payment mistake then it is possible that the insurance company will either deduct money from future payments or take money directly out of your bank account.
This can feel very uncertain and scary, but it does happen.
Therefore, you will want to keep a reserve of money in your bank account at all times.
If you want to learn more about private practice finances, click on this link.
This is one of the keys of success to making sure that your revenue cycle is up to date and streamlined.
The last tip for ensuring quick and timely payment in private practice is to start small and then grow big. All too often we see mental health therapists start out in private practice really ambitious.
They will take on 10 insurances and think that will lead to a successful practice.
Here is a news flash: IT WON'T!
Start small and then grow big.
Taking on more insurances then you can handle actually just increases the amount of administrative work for you or your staff and limits your profitability right out of the gate.
There are ways to scale up to that level with your mental health billing program, but starting off is not the way to do that.
We recommend that you take one insurance. Perhaps the one that represents the most patients in your area, or the one that you are the most familiar with, or the one that includes the niche that you want to serve in your community.
By taking one or two insurances at the start of private practice you can learn credentialing and mental health billing slowly and thus build over time. If you start off quickly and big and then topple because you can't maintain those systems, you are hurt and your patients are hurt because you are not sustainable.
It is better for you to learn the system slowly then try and grow without knowing what you are getting yourself into.
It is important for you, your staff, your vendors, your community, and your patients that your private practice succeed in the long term, with or without you present.
Managing the revenue cycle can be a challenging feat, but making sure that you receive timely payment and manage your finances well is a big part of succeeding in private practice and with your mental health billing program.
If you are finding that you are having trouble navigating the billing processes and procedures, reach out by contacting us through the website or give us a call. We would be happy to talk you through setting up your processes.
Also, we publish regular blog content on private practice and insurance trends. Subscribe to our blog for more free content that can help you sustain your practice for the long term.