As is the case with many different specialties, getting paid promptly is a challenge in podiatry. Adding to standard medical billing issues is the fact that podiatry practices are often solo practices or small clinics with only a few providers and limited staff to dedicate to podiatry billing. Here are some of the most common billing challenges that podiatry practices encounter, and how to overcome them.
Staying Current on Billing Rules and Changes
Billing codes are constantly changing. This maze of coding and billing is like a bowl of alphabet soup—ICD-10, CPT codes, and HCPCS—and even the most involved providers have difficulty keeping up. Inexperienced billing staff need constant training to stay on top of the changes and ensure clean claims are sent to payers for reimbursement to avoid leaving money on the table, or worse, avoid incorrect coding that puts you at risk of an audit or allegations of billing fraud.
Missing Out on Revenue
Many small practices leave money on the table as a result of billing and collection practices. Collecting revenue from payers requires submitting clean claims, and following up immediately on denials or rejections. These follow-ups often have time limits and require a good understanding of the rules and regulations. If an internal billing team is understaffed, they are likely missing deadlines and you end up facing the choice of billing the patient for the full amount (a move likely to anger patients whose treatment should be covered by insurance, that could cause you to lose repeat clients), or writing it off as bad debt, which is financially harmful to your practice.
Patient Collection Efforts
There are some costs that your patients will have to pay, including copays for insurance-covered visits, or a self-pay patient who’s covering the whole bill. In those cases, you need good revenue collection practices in your clinic. Your front office staff should insist (in a friendly, but firm way) that everyone pay their copays at the time of the visit. Trying to collect small amounts after a patient leaves costs a lot (the staff time, printing costs, and postage to send a bill for a $20 copay could be $5 or more, a completely avoidable cost if the money is collected at the visit). The chance of collecting after a patient leaves is also lower than collecting at the time of service.
Overcome this challenge by training staff to be comfortable asking the patient to pay what s/he owes at the time of service. This is standard in most other industries to pay for something at the time you consume it, so it shouldn’t make staff uncomfortable to ask.
Overcoming Billing Challenges
In all these situations, there are options that can help:
- For internal billing departments, an accurate and up-to-date medical billing software helps staff find the right codes for every patient encounter
- For smaller teams, an outsourced medical billing service provides the expertise you need without hiring, staff costs, and training
- For copay and revenue collection efforts, a practice management system can send appointment reminders in advance to allow patients to pay the copay online, and send email and text reminders for unpaid bills
Learn more about how AdvancedMD and our partner Hippocratic Solutions offer great options to help your podiatry practice thrive when it comes to billing.