One of the most often asked questions is “how as a private consultant surgeon can I improve or increase my cash flow”.
The answer, as regards medical invoicing, is very simple to answer:
RAISE YOUR STANDARDS
But what does that mean in reality. It means taking all the items that should be done and turning them into a MUST be done. For example: I took a phone call from a consultant’s secretary this morning who wanted a favour. She was struggling to get an invoice posted electronically. She was trying to invoice BUPA. Simple enough you may think but despite having a policy number, she could not process the invoice.
So how did it take me approximately 3 seconds to work out precisely WHY she couldn’t process the invoice?
She told me the policy number began BI-6000 etc etc.
That told me the policy number was not a BUPA policy number; it was a BUPA INTERNATIONAL policy number. She was trying to invoice the wrong insurance company. A quick fix to process the invoice, again on-line, to BUPA International and it sailed through. Sorted.
WHAT HAS RASING STANDARDS GOT TO DO WITH THIS?
If standards had been raised to ensure that every single patient registration form had been completed correctly, this problem would not have occurred. The invoice would have been processed the same day and payment made when required. Instead a shortcut had been attempted and the patient’s insurance company detailed incorrectly. If standards had been raised to ensure this was checked and spotted the invoice would have been immediately processed. There are no shortcuts if you want to get paid. As it happens in this case the issue was already a week old before I took the phone call.
Thus an increase in cash flow – the outcome desired by the private consultant – was not being reached.
However, if you stop to think there are two questions:
When the patient was registered, why wasn’t the check performed to ensure the right insurance company was recorded because it should have. What should have happened was the standards had been set too low. If it becomes a case of the patient MUST be asked i.e standards are raised then this specific problem is never allowed to arise.
And that’s what I mean by raising your standards.
2017 AND ONWARDS
So why is this even more crucial as we work our way through 2017?
Because more and more private medical insurance companies are insisting invoices be submitted electronically. The issue is not one of is that the right thing for them to do or not. The real issue is that it is happening and standards must be raised to ensure you CAN invoice electronically. In other words, if you don’t have all the right details it is much, much harder to process and invoice electronically. You will instead have to re-contact the patient and get the right details.
Therefore it makes more sense to say you MUST get the details upfront and you must RAISE YOUR STANDARDS to the point of saying – the correct details MUST be obtained and checked.
I’ve even witnessed where an invoice can’t be processed because the postcode has been recorded as W01 (numeric) when it should say W01 (alpha) Incidentally.
Many times I’ve said insurance companies are not the enemy. Even if I frequently disagree – I do on a daily basis sometimes – with some of their fees plus other items they do which are seriously irritating, all insurance companies will pay a private consultant IF (and only if) ALL the details are correct. In other words invoices must be raised to the correct standard.
If you want to increase or improve your cash flow, the very first thing to do is to raise your standards in the area of invoicing.