One of the ongoing challenges for optometric practices is finding and retaining staff. When offices are short-staffed or staff members need to be trained for a variety of roles, it can stretch employees thin. Amanda Whitener, regional account director at VisionWeb, says that can reach critical levels in a number of areas, but one place where there might be some relief is in outsourcing billing services.
“If billing staff either isn’t trained properly or the billing tasks fall to the bottom of the priority list, that affects the bottom line,” she says. Putting denied claims on the back burner might solve the problem temporarily for a busy biller, but it also negatively impacts the practice’s cash flow.
Whitener details the reasons why outsourcing billing –-the revenue management cycle (RCM) – to an experienced firm could be a benefit.
Staff can focus on the patients in the office. Administrative details are certainly important, she says, but when there are patients in the office who want attention, it is very difficult to step away from direct patient care to manage or catch up on billing and coding issues.
It’s a complicated business. Payors routinely update their rules and even reimbursements. Plus, many eye care professionals’ offices are managing both vision benefits and major medical plans. If staff members have to stay updated on documentation and other requirements, it’s going to take more time. An RCM service can help support staff onsite or manage the billing most entirely.
RCM is the exclusive role of a service. Unlike staff members who spend their days responding to patients, taking phone calls, greeting patients and managing the unexpected moments, an outsourced RCM service has only one job: working the practice’s billing and managing – or better yet preventing denials.
A service doesn’t need days off. When trained billing employees call in sick, take a vacation or quit, that could mean that claims aren’t sent out those days. That can result in lower cash flow when those claims would normally have been paid. Using an RCM service means a more consistent cash flow.
No service? No cost. If a doctor wants to take some time off or close the office, employees still expect to be paid for vacation and/or accumulated sick leave. But VisionWeb, for example, charges a percentage of the collections. So if collections are down, so is the cost. Conversely, if business is booming, a service can help you keep up without paying overtime or stressing the staff.
A service complements staff. Using a billing service for RCM does not necessarily mean replacing staff. Some practices choose to have an onsite biller who verifies a patient’s insurance. A company like VisionWeb will work with that employee to make sure that claims are submitted cleanly for faster turnaround or on the more complicated cases. Or, doctors can choose to work with VisionWeb directly, inputting the CPT codes and letting VisionWeb do the rest. With a secure portal, it’s easy to communicate about cases in a HIPAA-compliant manner.
You staff has enough to do—and new staff members have a lot to learn. By focusing on the revenue-generating and patient-facing tasks and outsourcing the revenue cycle management tasks, practice owners can maximize the team effort of bringing in new and serving existing patients.
Want to learn more about VisionWeb’s RCM service? Schedule some time to chat with the team.