Excessive days in accounts receivable (A/R) can hinder the financial health of an anesthesia provider, and constitute one of the main problems anesthesia billing and coding specialists have with a practice.
There are many reasons why days in A/R rise, and often, they increase without anyone really knowing why – or even being aware that they are going up. This inflation causes problems reconciling and receiving payments, which hurts a provider’s cash flow.
Unless action is taken, an anesthesia provider will have a hard time generating the cash flow they need to thrive.
Fortunately, improving your days in A/R is easier than you might think, particularly if you have the help of an anesthesia billing specialist who understands how to manage A/R. Here are five tips that we have shown to be useful in lowering your days in A/R for your patient accounts.
Optimize Your Billing Statements
One source of a high average days in A/R comes from confusion – specifically, confusion about the billing statement.
Unfortunately, many practices have confusing and hard-to-understand billing statements that can keep patients from paying a bill on time. To avoid this, make sure your billing statements are clear, easy to understand, and comprehensive – they need to clearly state fees collected at the time of service, a breakdown of all services that the patient received, the dates of service, and any and all insurance payments made on behalf of the patient.
Mail Bills in a Timely Manner
Far too often, providers send out bills on a monthly basis. This only causes delays down the line when it comes time to receive payment. Instead, try to send out bills on a weekly basis. Not only does this avoid problems with delays; it also means it’ll be closer to the actual appointment, so patients will more easily remember to pay the bill.
Consider Online Bill Pay
If you want to reduce days in A/R, consider offering online bill pay.
There are plenty of third-party vendors who allow patients to pay you through a credit card or other method online, including PayPal (which has become more popular). If your patient has a high-deductible plan, or uses an HSA, this is even more important. But any patient is more likely to pay if they can do so quickly and easily through the Internet.
Hire a Billing and Coding Specialist
One powerful way to reduce days in A/R is to hire a third-party anesthesia billing specialist who is an expert at billing, coding, and collections. A specialist can make sure everything is correctly coded and billed – ensuring fewer delays – and can also address patients and their questions about their bills and payments. They can also improve documentation for your providers to meet all requirements from payers – which helps the payer pay you in a more timely manner.
Analyze Your Data
Finally, collect data about your A/R so you can determine your average days in A/R and chart your progress over the coming weeks and months. Calculate the average days in A/R by payer, too, so you can see which payer gives you the most problems and causes the most delays. That helps you pinpoint things you can do to improve that relationship.
Also, know what your days in A/R are without collections and with collections. This gives you a more accurate idea of how well your payments are being collected.
Additionally, establish a baseline of how things stand right now so you can check back a few months down the road – preferably on a monthly basis – to see how you’ve improved.