Burnout. It was the buzzword of 2021 and now, in 2022, it’s still ringing in our ears every day. Especially in the healthcare industry.
In late May 2022, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a milestone report proposing solutions for the burnout problem plaguing healthcare. The advisory notes that there is a projected shortage of three million low-wage healthcare workers in the next five years. The physician shortage is expected to hit 140,000 by 2033.
But what does this mean for your healthcare business? If your team is dwindling because of burnout — especially billing burnout — your revenue cycle and cash flow could be at stake.
How to Ease Billing Burnout
As the Surgeon General suggests in his report, major changes to workplace culture can be a powerful tool to fight burnout. But another key suggestion is to reduce administrative burden. Whether the individual is a physician or front-office team member, you can ease burnout by helping them spend less time on tedious tasks and paperwork and more time on your organization’s mission.
If you find your administrative team is suffering from billing burnout, you don’t necessarily have to hire more staff to ease the burden. With some process improvements and a few technology tweaks, you’ll have a well-oiled medical billing machine.
Here are five ways to ease billing staff burnout at your practice or health business.
1. Create a Pre-Appointment Review Process
When you bring on a new patient, it’s routine to check their insurance coverage. But, like many things in life, insurance coverage changes. In some cases, you may have patients with last-minute insurance changes before an appointment.
Without the right insurance information, the claim you submit for the appointment or procedure could be lost from the get-go. That means fewer reimbursements for your business.
It’s essential to have an accurate insurance eligibility check process in place regardless of whether the patient is new to your business. Sure, it may mean an extra step in your billing process, but it will save your team loads of follow-up work if the claim is rejected or denied.
You could set up a manual review process with your team that checks all appointments for the upcoming week. An easier alternative would be to find an eligibility check software that automates this process for you and sends alerts for any insurance plans that are out-of-date. That means the checks won’t fall entirely on your team; they’ll have a smart solution backing them up and saving them time spent on verifying coverage.
2. Find Revenue Cycle Tools That Integrate with Your Existing System
Medical billing teams can spend a lot of time toggling back and forth between different tools and platforms. There are EHRs, PM software, payer portals — the list goes on.
You can avoid this time-wasting scenario by finding revenue cycle technology and billing software that integrates with your existing systems. Make sure your RCM platform pulls in demographic and appointment data directly from your EHR, so your team doesn’t have to spend time manually entering patient information or cross-checking different platforms.
If you’re not sure what integrations will work with your existing system, talk to your customer service representatives or account managers to see what setup suggestions they have. If all else fails, you can consider a third-party tool that integrates different data sources with your EHR.
3. Consider Physician Reviews for Complex Cases
Depending on the type of practice or business you run, your billing team may have to manage some complex claims. For example, you may have an OB/GYN patient with a complicated pregnancy and services that may or may not fall within a global code.
If you find your billing team is spending a lot of time going back and forth with payers on complex claims, you may want to create a physician review process before they submit the claim. The physician can look at the service descriptions and make sure the information is detailed and accurate.
But with physicians also feeling burnout from administrative burden, make sure you only implement this when necessary. Work together with your administrative and physician teams to create a smooth process that works for everyone. If possible, find an RCM or billing solution that has automated workflows and notifications that can streamline the process for everyone involved.
4. Automate Repetitive Billing Tasks
Speaking of automated workflows, they can be a lifeline for your overworked billing staff.
Many RCM and billing teams handle manual, repetitive tasks in their daily work. It’s the perfect fuel for the burnout fire.
For example, some practices may have to consistently add a CPT code modifier for a particular service or payer. Entering these modifiers over and over can take away time from more fulfilling tasks, like patient interactions.
Sit down with your team and learn which repetitive tasks take up the most time. Then, work together on ways to automate or streamline these tasks.
The easiest solution may already be available to you through your RCM and billing software, so find out whether it can help you customize automated workflows and rules. If not, talk with your software account manager about how they can help you automate these tedious processes. Or, consider searching for a solution that already has that automation tech.
5. Fix Trouble Spots in Your Revenue Cycle
If your billing team is constantly following up on claims, making corrections and tracking down payments, you may have an inefficient revenue cycle. And if that’s the case, you have a major source of billing burnout.
Fixing your revenue cycle problems can not only help improve burnout, it can also increase your revenue by limiting claim denials and reducing time-to-payment. Your team spends less time tracking down payments and in turn, your business gets a boost in cash flow.
But where do you begin? Start by understanding industry benchmarks for revenue cycle key performance indicators (KPIs). Look at metrics like clean claim rate, average days in accounts receivable (AR) and cash collection. If you find your practice is missing the industry benchmarks, it’s time to have a conversation with your team about how to improve these numbers.
In some cases, you may be able to set specific KPIs within your RCM platform and create alerts when the numbers fall below or exceed a certain threshold. These customization features will help you stay on top of your business’s financial data and take action when needed.
You may also consider an RCM consultant or outsourcing your RCM. That way, you have experts working with you to find revenue leaks and create effective solutions. With a problem-free revenue cycle, you’ll fight billing burnout and strengthen your business.
You Can Battle Billing Burnout with Improved Processes and Smart Tech
It’s likely we’ll be hearing about healthcare workforce burnout for a while to come. But you can make lasting change in your organization by reducing the administrative burden on your billing team. Having open conversations about their pain points is a great place to start, and together you can work through solutions to improve your in-house processes.
Employing smart RCM technology is another important step in the billing burnout fight — find technology that makes your team’s job easier with EHR integrations as well as customizable workflows and notifications.
If you feel you need stronger support, you can always outsource your RCM. At Gentem, we not only have industry-leading, AI-powered RCM software, we also have a team of experts who know RCM inside and out. So, whether you need a tech solution or a whole-team solution, we’ve got you covered. Book a demo today to see how we can transform your RCM and modernize your billing process.
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