The medical billing process is often a straightforward procedure: enter patient information and billing codes, send claims to insurance providers, post payments to patient accounts, and review overdue patient accounts.

However, even though you have a set process for medical insurance billing, there are usually ways to improve. Using best practices and, in certain cases, healthcare promotional items, to develop a more efficient process can reduce collection time, enhance coding effectiveness and improve insurance claim approval rates.

Why does this matter? One recent study shows that medical providers collect only 50 percent to 70 percent of patient balances, with 70 percent of providers saying it takes longer than one month to collect. And with only about 20 percent of revenue coming from copays, improving your medical billing process can make a big difference in your bottom line.

Best practices for medical insurance billing

Improve your billing process and collection rate with these five tips:

  1. Clearly communicate billing with patients up front. Nine in ten consumers say they want to know how much their insurance covers, along with their personal responsibility, before visiting a provider. Many say they prefer to budget for the expense. Explain the costs associated with procedures and how much will be covered by insurance. That way, your patients can decide if they can afford the procedure(s) and won’t be surprised by how much they’ll have to pay out-of-pocket.
  2. Collect all relevant information from patients. With insurance denial rates as high as 50 percent, it’s critical to minimize problems by ensuring your staff is well trained to fill in all the blanks. Make sure all patient information is complete and accurate, as it will be used by insurance companies and as part of the collection process. This information can also help a collection agency recover payment if needed. A simple peel-and-stick calendar  imprinted with a checklist of required information—and affixed to a computer monitor—can help remind staff which questions need to be asked.
  3. Make payments easy for patients. Most of your patients want to pay their bills but don’t always have the financial ability to do it all at once. Offering flexible payment options can help people pay over time. In addition, many patients are turning to online payments rather than paying by cash or check. A secure, online patient portal lets them pay via credit or debit card, gives you an opportunity to provide relevant health information, and can increase your collection rate. With 18 percent of healthcare payments made on a mobile device in 2015, you’ll want to be sure your online payment portal is mobile friendly. If you have an online payment portal, imprint your logo and website on a healthcare promotional item, such as a charging cable key tag that your staff can hand out to patients. This can serve as a reminder that you accept online payments, even from their mobile device.
  4. Incentivize billing and collections. The medical billing process is absolutely essential to the ongoing health of the medical provider. In addition to monetary rewards, an incentive program using healthcare promotional items can be a personal way to show your appreciation to associates who take care of billing. Fill a popcorn box with movie treats, a restaurant gift certificate, movie tickets, and a handwritten thank-you note for the employee who makes the most collection calls. For those who have reached their monetary collection goals, consider an award for excellence that sits on their desk. Or let them choose their own gift, such as a comfy jacket  or stylish bag to carry to work. Reward your patients who pay on time, too. It could be as simple as sending a fun logo’d thank-you pen or a practical hot/cold pack. Patients who regularly pay on time could earn points toward a more substantial reward, like a first-aid kit, gym-friendly sport duffel or activity tracker.
  5. Use high-quality billing software. By investing in auto-updating medical insurance billing software, your staff can quickly determine plan acceptance or denial based on current rules for insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. Software can also uncover payment errors, track past-due bills, and identify patients who have fallen behind in their payments, streamlining the entire process and increasing staff productivity.

Whether you implement one, two or all of the suggestions above, track their performance and see how it affects your bottom line. Using these tips, along with healthcare promotional items, can help simplify your medical billing process, increase your collections and reduce stress on your staff.

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