Physician practices that have recently implemented electronic health records should consider investing in supplementary medical payment software. This technology, which is part of many practice management (PM) systems, can streamline a practice's billing processes and help increase reimbursement rates and cash flow.
Benefits of medical billing software
In the last few years, many practices have prioritized the transition to EHR software and mitigating productivity loss from the change. Once these tasks have been accomplished, small medical practices may want to consider automating some of their other time-consuming operations like claim submissions and billing. Physicians Practice explained that a practice management system that streamlines medical billing is often an intimidating investment, but pays off in increased efficiency and revenue. The American Medical Association noted that the average practice can cut claim submission costs by 55 percent or more by switching to electronic filing and automating authorizations.
In addition to reducing costs and increasing cash flow, Software Advice explained that medical billing programs can help small practices make the transition to electronic file systems. The right PM software can help physicians and support staff track patients and invoices from one central location and reduce the amount of paperwork that needs to be filed. Further, this technology is also beneficial to providers that outsource their billing to a third-party contractor. Medical payment systems make it easy to bring billing in-house, which can cut costs and give physicians more control over the process.
Choosing the right program
For practices that are looking into a medical billing solution, there are a number of considerations to take into account. Physicians Practice explained that while PM and EHR systems from different vendors can be interfaced, it is often easiest to purchase the two technologies from the same company.
"With interfaces, the systems still talk to each other, but there are limitations," Lynn Anderanin, senior director of coding compliance and education at consulting firm Healthcare Information Services, told Physicians Practice. "When the products are from the same vendor, you can pull transactions from the EHR into the PM system automatically but with two products we have to use another interface or middleman to accomplish the same thing."
Another issue providers should take into account is the amount of technology support that different vendors provide during and after implementation. If an IT company charges high fees for system upgrades, service calls and hosting, it may add up to more expenses than the practice can afford. Physicians and administrators should take these costs into account before deciding on a medical billing program.
The new technology should also supplement the practice's goals when it comes to healthcare reform and internal growth. Decision makers might want to consider how equipped the program is to handle the switch to ICD-10, meaningful use requirements or participation in an accountable care organization. Physicians Practice noted that a PM systems' reporting functions are often essential to these goals. To be worth the investment, the new software needs to help the practice manage patient populations and keep up with changes in the industry.
After transitioning to an electronic file system, the next step in boosting practice efficiency is to invest in PM software that will streamline medical billing and automate other daily tasks. While implementation is expensive, many small healthcare providers experience ample benefits from the technology. Vivien Werner, information systems analyst at Tri-County Eye, a 12-physician practice in Pennsylvania, told Physicians Practice that their "claims are going out cleaner and... payments are coming back faster" after switching to medical payment software. These upgrades can go a long way toward saving the practice money and achieving the company's goals.