Are you worried about how your practice revenues will shape up in 2021?
It’s been an incredibly trying year, and medical practices have responded to the challenges posed by the pandemic with a never-before-seen swiftness. Telehealth, which at the start of 2020 was considered a novelty, quickly became the linchpin for healthcare delivery. Yet, there is no denying that the practice revenue losses suffered in the initial months of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown have hit the healthcare sector hard. As per an AHA estimate, the COVID-19 health crisis’s catastrophic financial impact is expected to be $323 billion (in 2020).
Earlier this month (almost a year after the pandemic emerged), the U.K., Bahrain, and Canada became amongst the first countries to approve the coronavirus vaccine created by Pfizer and BioNTech. Incoming U.S. President Joe Biden has set a goal of 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in his first 100 days in office. Overall, that’s good news for the well-being of the world population. However, the accessibility of immunization for lesser developed countries remains to be seen. Also, one does not yet know when will the U.S. reach an adequate number of immunizations for achieving herd immunity.
BUT WHAT OF THE VACCINE FOR REJUVENATING MEDICAL PRACTICE REVENUES?
If you seek to turn around the fortunes of your medical practice in the year ahead, here is a list of practice revenue initiatives, which when implemented correctly will also improve the patient experience.
1.Implement Self Service Patient Management Technology
Telehealth proved the willingness of Americans to adopt healthcare technology that serves a real purpose. However, many medical practices have been slow to use technology to align their other interactions with patient expectations.
One of the best ways to reduce the paperwork and administrative bottlenecks at your medical practice is to implement a cloud-based revenue cycle management software with a patient portal feature. Doing so will render ‘anytime, anywhere’ access for your patients.
Some of the office tasks that can be moved online are (1) new patient registration (2) uploading patient documents (3) updating details (primarily address and insurance details) of existing patients (4) viewing patient outstanding (5) making or rescheduling appointments, (6) providing visit estimates before a visit and (7) collecting online payments before the patient visit.
If you adopt an RCM with an interoperability feature, that will ensure that information flows seamlessly from the portal to the patient’s electronic health record.
When you successfully migrate most of your clients to the patient portal, your office staff can provide better care for people visiting the medical office. Over time, as your patient base increases, you will manage with a lower increase in staffing compared to a situation where you don’t have a patient portal.
2. Offer Greater Price-Transparency
It may sound a tad crude, but the healthcare sector has become a ‘buyer’s market.’ That means that there is intense competition and that clients are highly likely to ‘shop around’ for the cost of treatment before making an appointment. Lack of clarity on the price of a medical office visit can deter a potential client from choosing your medical practice.
There is also another angle to this. When millions of Americans lost jobs due to the pandemic, they also lost the accompanying insurance benefits. Therefore, the cost of a doctor’s appointment is now of greater concern for many families.
Your medical practice’s ability to provide accurate pre-visit cost estimations (along with insurance eligibility verifications) will improve your credibility as a healthcare provider and, in turn, boost practice revenues.
3. Minimize Denials by Using AI Technology
According to a 2019 American Hospital Association (AHA) survey, 9% of hospitals and health systems have experienced an increase in claim denials over the past three years, with 51% saying the increase has been “significant.”
Even smaller medical practices could fail to collect as much as $20,000 per month due to claim denials. But did you know that 90% of claim denials are preventable? Knowing the top reasons for denials is the first step to checking this revenue leakage.
According to a December 2020 survey (of 619 providers) by MGMA on the top denial reasons, 42% of providers state that prior authorization is the biggest reason for denials, followed by demographic issues, timely filing, and other factors.
Denials due to prior authorizations are not always due to a medical practice’s error; there can be many technical/procedural reasons. But there are a few steps you can take to minimize these numbers.
Ensure that the billing software you use can accurately verify the patient’s insurance eligibility. Giving patients the ability to update their information online (as discussed under point 1. through a patient portal) will reduce your demographic errors. If you are a hospital provider, use a technology (like the HL7 BRIDGE provided by AdvancedMD) that allows patient demographic data maintained by the hospital to flow into the practice management software. Review your contracts with insurance companies for the timeframe allowed for resubmission of claims; ideally, you must negotiate for a window of six months to resubmit claims.
4. Build a Presence on Google
It’s estimated that more than 80% of people read about a medical practice online before making that first appointment. They are also just as likely to trust Google reviews as they would a recommendation by a friend.
Does your medical practice have good Google reviews? As an established practice, if you have less than a hundred Google reviews, then you need to focus on this area. Some of the tactics you could consider using are:
- Sending well-worded email requests to patients who have consented to receive emails from the practice
- Adding a Google review link on your practice website and
- Mentioning a request for review on the after-care instructions and appointment cards.
Ensure that your Google Business Page is updated with your medical practice’s latest contact information and email. You may have to claim your map listing also.
Even if you don’t have the time to create a blog, ensure that you create one or two Google posts per week on your Google Business Page.
We hope that these practice revenue enhancement tips give you some ideas for a more successful 2021. As a final note – client loyalty will be the most valuable asset for your medical practice. Even if consultations in the year 2021 continue mostly through telehealth, your patients must feel ‘taken care of’ at all levels. That includes proactive sharing of information with patients on managing their health, the telephone etiquette of your administrative staff, the completeness of the information provided to the patient before the visit, and billing and claim processing accuracy.