How to Improve a Radiology Billing Department

Posted on June 4, 2018 in Billing Audit, General

Radiology billing can be complicated. Fixing a broken radiology billing department is even more difficult.

Luckily, there are a few simple ways you can improve your radiology billing department that doesn’t require much time or effort.

7 Ways to Improve Your Radiology Billing

1. Understand the numbers and industry standards

There is a phrase used in management that is applicable here: people don’t do what you expect them to do, they do what you inspect them to do.

In order to begin improving your billing department, you need to know the industry standards and how you compare. Once you understand the numbers, it’s up to you to share your knowledge and deliver objectives to the billing and coding team. This includes communicating expectations and providing continuous feedback on how they are tracking the numbers.

The RBMA provides an annual Account Receivable survey to get you started.

If this process is done right, you’ll be surprised how well your team responds to this feedback. Most employees want to do a good job and want to know where they stand.

Finally, if you are large enough to have multiple position players on your team (payment posting, follow-up, coding, etc.), compare these positions among themselves. Set goals for them for a day or week.

2. Automate and go paperless

Paper is a killer in billing so follow the paper.

Every manual process and every non-digital piece of information needs to vigorously automated wherever possible. Work on getting all interfaces for charge and demographic data moved to digital. Spend some time by the printer and scan stations and see what is being churned out.

Kill the paper because the paper is killing you.

3. Offer team incentives

You don’t have to break the bank to get your team moving. If you understand the numbers, give the team a goal to shoot for during the coming month or quarter.

For example, tell your team if they get collections to a certain point or Days in AR below a set goal, you will do something fun.

One time I told the team if they got the AR below a certain point, I would personally hand wash their cars while they watched from a comfortable chair with drinks and snacks at their disposal. It was both fun and effective and didn’t cost much money at all.

For another big incentive, I told the team I would take them all whale-watching or in a limo to a local casino. These cost a little more but again didn’t break the bank.

One of the nice benefits of this is peer pressure. If someone is slacking off a bit, it helps if peers are putting friendly pressure on them instead of management. It can be very motivating to have your co-workers looking at what you are doing versus your managers.

4. Strategize your statement process

Statements are expensive and only minimally effective if you don’t have a strategy.

It’s very important that each statement has a purpose. In other words, don’t just send out Statement 1, 2 and 3 without upping the pressure.

We prefer to send out Statement 1 followed by a Final Notice. Shortly thereafter we send out a pre-collect letter letting them know they are going to collections. By doing it this way, each statement appeals to a certain type of payer:

Another thing to consider when it comes to statements is to collect emails and send out e-statements. This can be done for a fraction of the cost of paper statements.

ImagineSoftware has announced a new artificial intelligence app that will put a credit grade on each patient and tell you how many statements you should send out.

For example, if a patient has terrible credit and almost no ability to pay, why put good money after bad out by sending this person a statement?

5. Make it easy for patients to pay you

Collecting money from patients may be the most tedious part of the job. Self-pay is notorious for being the equivalent of no-pay.

An easy way to improve your billing is to make it easy for patients to pay. When a patient calls, answer the stinking phone. Don’t make them crawl through a ten-step phone tree. Give them a 24/7 online payment portal. Allow patients to get on a payment plan. Offer them financing options like Imagine’s HonorCare.

Patients don’t always pay, but you can best believe if you make it hard for them, they are never going to pay.

6. Ensure coding accuracy

There is a lot at stake with coding these days. You can lose money on MIPS if it is not captured correctly. It’s also possible you’ll be audited if you are not coding things accurately. The most common effect of bad coding is coding denials and underpayments.

The best way to make sure your coding is being done correctly is to use certified coders and conduct continual spot audits. Again, back to number one above.

We’ve done blogs on the accuracy of radiology coding before so we won’t beat it into the ground.

7. Know when to seek outside help

Citing the old Kenny Rogers’ song, The Gambler, “you’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run.”

Sometimes you don’t have the size, labor pool, financial backing, management, etc. to make a successful go of it as a billing office. You can either continue to struggle or look to outside help.

Dexios has several solutions to help struggling radiology billing departments:

Consulting

Whether you need a complete overhaul or just a push in the right direction, let us help you see if you can succeed in turning your billing department around.

Supplemental Services

Struggling to lower coding or denial backlogs?  Upcoming special project and you’re ill-prepared?

Dexios has a temp agency that can lift some of the weight and functions in which you are struggling.

In-Sourcing

A Dexios-exclusive solution, in-sourcing is when we take over your billing department.

Your billers and coders remain the same, but an award-winning Dexios team manages them providing expert help and guidance necessary to run your operation.

Outsourcing

If the situation calls for it, we can also completely outsource radiology billing. We’ll move your entire radiology billing operation to one of our U.S. based regional offices.

Improve Radiology Billing Processes

Dexios is here to help you maximize collections from your billing department. Our suite of comprehensive radiology billing solutions provides the perfect balance of expert help with the flexibility you need to succeed.

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