The old nutmeg has come around again!
This time it was a call from a consultant who was so fed up with DNA, he decided he’d sort it.
Whilst he was at it, he’d stop the constant problems he’s having with excess deductions too.
And, I’ll wager, DNA and excess are a pain in your ass too.
From May,2022 all non-insured patients were required to pay in advance.
Those who were insured were required to leave card details so in the event of any excess the card would be automatically debited.
Sadly I see this all too often when I go meet a potential new client.
Many of the issues he faced have their source in a previous decision.
The previous decision itself could well be based on a decision before that one even.
One of those decisions in the chain was almost certainly not thought through.
But he had indeed stopped the problem with self-funding DNA patients
Because there weren’t any self-funding patients anymore.
Clearly, he hadn’t thought through the consequences of his decision.
He had reacted instead.
Yet the reaction caused another problem i.e. no more self-funding patients.
That was unfortunate as 23% of the practice was derived from self-funding patients.
The above example is indicative of the cause of many of the issues that particular consultant faced with his medical billing.
It was relatively easy to put the self-funding issue right because I’ve faced that specific challenge a few hundred times previously (email me for how).
Getting the consultant to change his mindset though was much more difficult.
He did change though because he had seen a 100% reduction in self-funder outstanding invoices.
He changed not just because I knew the answer. He changed because he realised when I faced that issue previously, I’d allowed myself sufficient time to give it serious thought and consideration before reaching a decision.
I’d implemented a course of action that didn’t put patients off by asking payment in advance but did reduce the number of outstanding self-funder invoices.
And that is why it is important to put the time aside and think through an issue before deciding on a specific course of action.
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Most MHM clients have reported issues with self-funders when we get involved. It is also the source of many calls made to MHM.
With the self-funding market increasing, it is important to understand the reasons self-funders can be a problem.
But what, based on empirical evidence, are the three most common reasons a self-funder hasn’t paid:
The first issue is always the same. When the patient is contacted as a self-funder, he/she claims never to have received an invoice.
Whilst this is obviously easy to rectify, how many medical professionals are 100% certain the invoice was sent in the first place?
Obviously some self-funders will be naughty so to speak but generally, they will pay if sent an invoice.
So the first common reason – the self-funder hasn’t been invoiced.
The second issue concerns the use of debit or credit cards. In 99.9% of cases when a patient arrives at a private hospital he/she will be asked to provide a swipe of their card.
Sadly on numerous occasions, the patient is unaware the card only covers the hospital fees. It does NOT cover the consultant’s fee.
The MHM solution is when the patient first makes contact with the consultant, he/she is advised the card swipe will NOT cover the consultant’s fee.
This should be followed up by a note on the consultant’s invoice stating: This invoice is NOT covered by any debit/credit card details you may have provided to the hospital.
The second common reason – the patient thinks they have already paid
The third issue is the easiest of all to resolve. Frequently, a self-funding patient has called upon receipt of the consultant’s invoice to say they are insured.
This must be addressed immediately. Invoicing the wrong person is absolute insanity.
The cause is a failure at the patient’s initial point of registration to ensure the correct details are taken.
The third common reason – there is a major failure in the consultant’s registration process.
If the above three items are correctly managed and a firm process put into place to manage the minority of self-funders who don’t pay, the number of outstanding self-funding invoices drops in most cases by over 80%
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Recently a private consultant – the colleague of a current client in fact – called me with a problem. Sadly it was a problem very much of their own making!
In an effort to increase fees, the consultant had decided that a surgical episode should be billed as follows: AB1234 £640 and CD2468 £75. So the total fee = £715.00 and on January 10th, 2022 the insurance company was sent an invoice for £715.0. And promptly proceeded to reject it.
The fee for the AB1234 was and still is correct. But with this particular insurance company offering 50% of a second code, the CD2468 fee was wrong to start with. It should not have been £75. It should have been £37.50. Great. Save the invoice would still have been rejected. Why this time?
If the private consultant had checked they would have discovered that this second CD2468 code was deemed by the insurance company to be part and parcel of the AB1234 procedure. Thus it was never going to get paid anyway and it was deemed unbundling to submit an invoice and charge for both items.
Skip forward to February, 2022. The consultant – or more accurately his long-suffering secretary – has called, emailed and written to the insurance company because the consultant is still unpaid the £640 for the AB1234.
Hence the phone call to MHM.
For once even I couldn’t do anything about the multi-code element. It very clearly states on the insurance company website that a consultant cannot invoice a CD2468 alongside an AB1234. In fact, it also says so on the CCSD website. It is deemed unbundling to do so. The bottom line is that from October 2021 to January 2022 the consultant has been £640 out of pocket. MHM called the insurance company and has confirmed the original invoice has now been canceled and re-submitted an invoice for an AB1234 £640.00. It is being paid this month too.
Moral of the story?
You will NOT uplift your fee by charging the wrong amount and you most definitely NOT uplift your fee by unbundling.
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They are not just for tax reasons. They are not just to keep the accountant happy. There is a time-critical reason too.
Remittance advice will confirm the values that have been paid. It is a mistake to assume that the invoice will be paid completely. It may not be.
For example and taking one remittance received by an MHM client.
Of the ten invoices paid, four of them were subject to excess deductions.
This is why remittances should be checked. And before they are stored for tax reasons or to keep your accountant happy.
In the above example, each invoice detailed on the remittance was reconciled against a debtors ledger. Only then was the payment recorded. It was then the number of deductions was identified. In this example, the total came to some £350.
The next step is to identify why the deductions have been made.
Whilst all four deductions were correct and were in respect of excess amounts it is surprisingly common for a deduction to have been made in error.
In the recent past, one MHM client had an invoice for surgery deducted in full because the patient’s policy had expired. At least according to the patient’s insurance company it had expired. It had done so after the date of the surgery. In this case, at the date of the surgery, the policy was “live”
Consequently, the insurance company was wrong to decline the invoice for payment.
A call to the insurance company concerned quickly identified and confirmed the insurance company was in error. The invoice was immediately cleared for payment. Insurance companies do make mistakes. Not many thankfully but they do happen.
If the deduction is correct then immediate action should be taken to contact the patient and a request made for payment – by the patient – made.
So the number and reasons why deductions have been made by a private medical insurance company can easily be identified and subsequently actioned on behalf of the consultant surgeon.
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Working for consultant surgeons is fun.
However, since one particular private medical insurance company decided to outsource their help desk or their “advisors” late last year, there has been a marked reduction in their level of customer service from it.
Considering the people calling them are either consultant surgeons or calling on behalf of a consultant surgeon, that is pretty bad.
Indeed the average time on hold for this particular insurance company, for example, is now well over 10 minutes.
That’s pretty awful considering it used to be less than a minute.
What is ironic however is that now I have a choice of music to listen to.
For example: would I like to listen to classical music, pop music, jazz or rock music? I decided on classical as it happens and am currently listening to Bach. I like Bach.
But it has got me thinking…
Isn’t being given the option of what to listen to missing the point entirely?
This is an even worse option than being told my “call is important to us” and then the call is unanswered.
Shouldn’t the aim be to answer the phone call rather than offering a choice of music to listen to?
All private consultant surgeons sooner or later will need to speak to an insurance company.
Whether this is at the point they are attempting to gain recognition or to check a fee is correct is not relevant.
Sooner or later – particularly if you are billing an insurance company – you have no choice but to speak to them.
But is it absolutely necessary to call?
That is my favourite question to ask.
The first port of call so to speak is always to consider if an action is necessary. In other words, what is causing that action to be necessary and can anything be done to prevent the necessity of the action?
In the case of speaking to a medical insurance company, in theory, many of the calls should not be necessary.
If an invoice is raised and submitted correctly for example then payment should – again in theory – just flow through. Reducing the necessity of speaking to an insurance company is always a good aim.
It is the very reason I check remittance advice sent by an insurance company most carefully.
They record many of the details as to why an invoice, for example, hasn’t been paid either in full or partially.
For example: if a partial payment has been made the reason why will be detailed on the remittance advice.
Thus the number of calls required to a private medical insurance company will be reduced.
Nonetheless, the fact remains there will ALWAYS be an occasion to call an insurance company. It may be, for example, that the fee has been reduced and you don’t know why.
The point is there may be genuine reasons why it IS necessary to speak to an insurance company.
Contrast this however with another insurance company I’ve spoken to this morning. I called them and was told I was on hold, was caller number 3 and the estimated hold time was 4 minutes.
Fine; I can live with that.
It is up to me whether I’m prepared to wait in line or call back.
Having formally complained to the medical insurance company in the first example that their customer service is not good four times so far, I did consider WHY they had outsourced?
It would appear the reason is financial. It’s cheaper.
It was once said by an extremely wealthy man that price is what you pay and value is what you get. I agree wholeheartedly.
Cheaper isn’t always the best.
And time is money too.
I’ve actually written this blog whilst being on hold and listening to Bach. So I’ve used the time to do other things too. What would happen, however, if I was a private consultant surgeon with an already overworked medical secretary who had letters to type or worse still was on hold so patients couldn’t ring her?
That would reflect badly on my practice.
I’m all in favour of outsourcing.
I would say that though because my business is intrinsically the provider of an outsourced facility to private consultant surgeons.
Even so, I get seriously frustrated at being told either my call is important – well answer it then – or I’m offered a choice of music to listen to.
I don’t actually want either to hear either.
I want my issue resolved quickly and efficiently.
Cheaper and slower shouldn’t be an option.
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If you get the basics right many problems with getting paid don’t happen.
The basics mean the absolute minimum and mandatory requirements in order to present an account for your services. The basics are:
Patient’s full name.
What is their full address?
Do you have the postcode.
Patient’s date of birth
The name of their insurance company
The policy number of their insurance company
A pre-authorisation number issued by the insurance company
A Correct CCSD code
Make sure you have the right fee for that Code
But it doesn’t stop there.
Your name and address
The Consultant’s provider number
A unique invoice number
The date of the invoice
The date of the treatment/consultation
The right CCSD code
But if you don’t get all 14 you make it harder for the insurance company to pay you.
Where do you get the above data from?
If you are practicing from a private hospital all this data will be recorded on the patient’s registration form.
If you are operating from some other private consultation facility, make sure you do ensure the details are obtained.
If you are invoicing electronically, its pretty much standard that you MUST have the above data. The same is also true if you are dealing with a self-funding patient or you have to collect a shortfall/excess amount from a patient.
In other words, you are going to need all 14 pieces of data.
Therefore it makes more sense to get them right the first time.
But have a guess at what are the TWO major reasons an insurance company does NOT pay your invoice?
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A shortened version of a recent conversation with a well established private consultant surgeon.
Very recently one of the major PMI players announced a further reduction in payable fees.
The immediate retort from another very well established MHM client was to pass any reduction on to the patient.
That’s all well and good but not if she is fee assured with the insurance company concerned.
If a fee reduction is passed on to a patient by a fee assured consultant, the consultants’ recognition may be put at risk.
None of the above means MHM agrees with insurance companies reducing fees – even though market forces may on occasion be the root cause of such reduction.
By all means, argue with the insurance company.
And I already am.
But don’t assume the argument fees should not be reduced will be successful.
There again it might not.
Instead, make sure you are charging the very maximum you can.
Make sure you are charging for everything you do.
If the surgery takes twice as long as expected, request an uplift fee. If a double consultation is required, charge for a double consultation.
It’s not as difficult as you may think it is.
And don’t forget to do a sanity check each month.
If you think a 20% reduction in fees is bad, consider the 100% reduction if you fail to charge an entire consultation.
Whilst the question of where fees will go will be considered in future blogs, its important before even thinking about your fees to make absolutely sure you are charging the right fee already.
You’d be surprised how many aren’t!!!!
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A group of surgeons I know is having problems getting paid by insurance companies.
Not just an individual insurance company but all insurance companies.
More specifically or so the surgeon’s practice manager claimed, there were many invoices unpaid by insurance companies 3 months after the consultation or episode date.
This was all the fault of the insurance companies who simply do not want to pay.
To be clear this was not the surgeons complaining the fee had been reduced or was incorrect.
This was a case of the surgeons not being paid at all.
I found this odd as in my experience ALL the insurance companies I deal with pay well before 3 months have elapsed.
The practice manager therefore altered the patients’ terms and conditions to read “patients will be asked to pay anything not settled after three months from the date of consultation”.
This is, in his words “a long stop” and would prevent the issue arising.
I’m not convinced however putting such a plaster over the wound is the correct action to take.
I’m definitely not convinced a “long-stop” will prevent the problem because it will allow the invoices to become three months old and then do something about them. More importantly, it is based ON AN ASSUMPTION
It assumes the invoices are being delivered to the insurance company within three months of the consultation (or for that matter surgical episode date) anyway.
I raised the following two points with the consultants and their Practice Manager:
The patient is ultimately liable for payment anyway.
The contract is between the consultant and the patient. Not the consultant and the patient’s insurance company.
Whilst it is useful to insert the “three months” clause it would have been better to add it was ultimately the patient’s liability anyway as well.
Is the “three month’s clause” not missing the point entirely?
WHY aren’t the invoices being paid within three months?
It’s this second point that is the more relevant of the two.
Insurance companies are NOT the enemy.
Of course, I disagree with many of their fee reductions.
I also disagree when they decree certain multi procedures are now deemed to be part and parcel of each other.
They also make mistakes sometimes. The reason for my disagreement is obvious.
I’m here to get the maximum amount of revenue for my clients.
Anything that reduces such revenue is not good.
Nonetheless, insurance companies should not be treated as if they are the enemy.
Insurance companies WILL settle a claim within 3 months.
So why are the group of surgeons referred to earlier having problems and introducing the “three-month” rule?
Without even drilling too far down into how and when the surgeons were invoicing, I can tell you the probable cause and why they subsequently feel the rule is necessary.
That is why the invoices are not being paid earlier than the consultants are currently experiencing.
It is all about getting it right the first time.
The first time means having a clinic list or a theatre list invoiced promptly with all the details required by the insurance company appearing correctly on the invoice.
Putting the effort in upfront always generates the best results.
It may be tiresome and it may be an inconvenience to have to stop, make a phone call so you DO have the correct details but it pays in the long run.
Its also all about 30 days after the invoice has been transmitted to an insurance company if it is still unpaid, getting them on the phone and asking if there is a problem.
If there is, it gets sorted immediately.
An invoice should not be allowed to be dated more than three months from the episode or consultation date.
Consider it this way. If you invoice quickly and invoice correctly, the number of potential issues that may delay payment reduces considerably.
You simply must make it easy for a private medical insurance company to deal with your invoices.
I actually said that to a consultant surgeon recently who wasn’t sure he agreed until I asked him if he liked money or not? Obviously, he said he did.
I rest my case.
As regards the consultants who have now introduced the “three-month rule” the rule itself should be entirely unnecessary.
The cause of the problem should be examined and steps are taken to prevent the invoices from becoming more than three months old.
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When I begin to raise invoices for a new MHM client, for example, I’ll check I have the right provider number. I’ll check all the online systems and EDI protocol are 100% accurate. Is the consultant’s address correct?. I’ll check the insurance company has the right BACS payment details.
What I’m actually doing is reducing down to absolute zero as many reasons as I can possibly think of that will prevent the invoice being raised correctly.
What happens if I don’t take this approach?
Invoices come flying back. They don’t come back straight away of course.
It may take weeks before I’m notified there is a problem. Then I have to work out why it went wrong, get all the details to put the error right, actually put it right and then resubmit the invoice.
Then I have to wait again for the invoice to be reprocessed. Eventually, the invoice gets paid.
One absolutely true example. Recently MHM project managed a group of three surgeons in the Midlands. All three were seriously considering closing the practice as they were not making any money. They were not getting paid as they should.
The senior of the three was responsible for invoicing for all three each week.
Just under 50% of the invoices he produced came back unpaid. The insurance companies concerned requested more details or raised query against them.
The senior consultant complained he hadn’t got enough time to keep sorting these things out. He had to raise invoices as quickly as possible. He tended to view any medical invoicing problem from the “quickest fix” point of view. To use his words “I only want to be a surgeon and not a whatever-you-call-it”
My kind of guy. Don’t talk about it. Get on with it. Play to your strengths. Save that is precisely what he was not doing.
He jokingly told me his blood pressure was sky high due to the constant stream of invoice problems.
Yet it was this “quickest fix” approach that was the cause of his blood pressure. Many times his quick fix in one area (get them on the phone or treat the patient as a self-funder for example) caused a problem in another area. Then he had to fix that.
This was leading to a six /seven-week delay before invoices were accepted by insurance companies on top of the agreed payment terms.
It took me two months to re-map the process, test, amend it and bed it in. In month three we started to see the results. Invoice failure rate had dropped from roughly half to below 6%. Cash flow had doubled. The time with which the three consultants got paid decreased from around every 75 days to about 50.
All three consultants were happy. Imagine the surprise though when I told them that wasn’t good enough?
I thought we should see at least a 98% acceptance rate and to be paid every 30 days. And I wanted to achieve that as of yesterday starting with raising the invoices every single day rather than weekly. The invoice process was robust. There were very few errors. There were few reasons why we shouldn’t be paid.
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A colleague called me last week. A case of “can I pick your brains for two minutes?”
I’m always happy to take such calls for many times I have called others with precisely the same request. My colleague was confused as to what could or could not be charged alongside a consultation fee. Specifically, the consultant surgeon she worked for was administering injections at a consultation and she thought she could not charge a consultation fee AND a fee for the injection. She thought this would be a clear case of unbundling.
Except she was wrong.
Her consultant was perfectly entitled to charge a separate fee for the injection.
A quick analysis of the outpatient consultations where my colleague had NOT charged since January 2021 revealed she had UNDERCHARGED by a total of £837 so far this year. She had however and quite rightly charged for every single consultation – failure to do otherwise is the fastest way to lose the private consultant’s money – but had shown on her invoice the fee for the appointment alongside a ZERO fee for the injection. In the case of one single insurance company she had failed to charge in respect of 9 separate patients £450 worth of injections (9 @ £50 each)
The bottom line is that if she undercharged injections by £837 in the first 6 months of 2021, should she continue throughout 2022 she would lose her consultant £1,674 for the entire year.
How did I know the answer to this one? MHM has clients in the same specialism as my colleague’s consultant. Also, MHM checks fees every month with all insurance companies for the rules of what can and cannot be charged, what is bundled and what is deemed unbundled change. Plus, most importantly, applicable fees alter!
How many of you check what the correct fee is? Not just when you set the practice up but on a regular basis?
But I can’t help but wonder how many consultants undercharge – are you one of them but don’t realise it?
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At a on-line medical conference recently a friend of mine was discussing the future of the private practice industry and what lay ahead.
My colleague shared the view that the “younger” newly appointed consultant is more adaptable to the direction of change in the private practice.
Thus they were a major driver in how the industry moves forward.
I say they are entrepreneurs.
Let me explain why.
Certainly newly appointed consultants cannot look forward to a hefty NHS pension at the end of their career.
The younger consultants are also facing a squeeze in fees from private medical insurance companies.
Not to mention they journeyed through a number of years to reach the position they are in now.
Yet they find themselves in an increasingly competitive market.
The market is more competitive than those who came before them.
The younger consultants are, so the evidence suggests, much more open to a business-orientated approach than before.
They have to.
In other words, the newly qualified consultant still has a mortgage to pay, mouths to feed, etc so is much more receptive to being an entrepreneur.
Say what you may but the fact remains the private medical healthcare environment is changing.
Just as the NHS healthcare environment is changing.
At the forefront of such changes will be the newly qualified consultant surgeon.
To adapt or take advantage of such opportunities as may arise, the new qualified are using technology as never before.
For example, they are much more amenable to the use of internet-based technology for marketing and PR.
They have to be entrepreneurial.
To prosper, let alone survive, they must invest in technology.
What is interesting is that they are more willing to do so than ever before.
To succeed with a private practice requires a significant amount of seriously hard work.
This is not to suggest the application of medical skills is not important.
But what is equally important are entrepreneurial skills.
Marketing, financial expertise, and business managerial skills for example.
These should not be assumed to be easy.
They now have to be acquired.
Consider that a consultant – newly qualified or otherwise – works within the NHS.
The NHS provides a support infrastructure including premises, secretarial support and, crucially, a constant supply of new patients.
In the private sector, none of these items will be supplied.
The consultant has to go out and actively find them for himself.
And that is why the consultant surgeon should be viewed as an entrepreneur.
Does anyone have a different view? I’d be delighted to hear from you.
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One of the major areas MHM is approached about is excess and shortfalls.
In October 2021, empirical evidence indicated 30% of all claims to private medical insurance companies are subject to an excess/shortfall. This is not to imply the insurance companies are to blame.
The reality is that patients have reduced the costs of their premiums over the last few years by agreeing to a higher excess.
But the knock-on effect of this has been an increase in excess deductions.
So what can the private consultant surgeon do about it?
The number one rule in tacking the issue of excess deductions is to identify when they happen. This is actually easy. The remittance from the insurance company WILL confirm when an excess has been made. It most likely will also state their insured (the patient) has been notified.
But under no circumstances should the problem be left at that.
The practice must, at the very least, action all shortfalls straightaway. Under no circumstances should this be allowed to exceed 7 days. Excess or shortfall deductions made again MHM clients are actioned within 48 hours. Such action may be an invoice for the amount of the excess/shortfall immediately sent to the patient. The invoice must state how much is due, why and how it should be paid.
This must be followed by a very robust process that makes sure such invoices are followed up.
If you want a complimentary PFD of the invoice MHM uses for excess or shortfalls, email me at the address below:
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This is a topic that comes up frequently when I meet Private Consultant Surgeons.
Indeed, the point was mentioned last year in a blog regarding asking self-funding patients to pay in advance.
Self-funding patients represent the major risk of non-payment for the private consultant.
That said MHM does not advocate requesting payment in advance.
One group of Private Consultant Surgeons once made it mandatory that ALL self-funding patients paid in advance.
Within 3 months they had lost over 90% of their self-funding patients.
This represented a value several times LARGER than the balance due from unpaid self-funding consultations.
Cancellations are completely different from “Did Not Attend” and frankly none of my guys (and gals) suffer from a significant number of cancellations.
Yes, there is a small number but in no way is it a problem.
It is more an inconvenience.
But there is another aspect to the debate.
That aspect is those patients who ‘Do Not Attend”
Patients who do not attend for their consultation represent a 100% loss.
It matters little how long the consultation is.
If the patient does not attend the consultation then that time is lost and no revenue may be charged for it.
Certainly, this is true if the patient is insured for it is extremely unlikely any insurance company will allow a fee to be charged if the patient did not attend for a consultation even if a cancellation was necessary for genuine reasons.
The issue, however, is different if the patient is self-funding.
Of course, it is possible for the consultant to send an invoice to the patient who did not attend.
That does not mean, however, the invoice will be paid.
The conclusions are therefore as follows:
if the patient is insured there is very little the consultant can do about DNA patients
if the patient is self-funding however taking a deposit (which can be deducted from the final charge) has the effect of REDUCING the number of “Did Not Attend” patients.
Would such an approach have a negative impact on the reputation of the consultant?
I suspect it would.
It would be interesting to hear from anyone who has a different approach and the results they have obtained. Feel free to email me at:
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MHM recently completed a group of consultants with a remit to investigate why they were not getting paid.
One insurance company was proving to be particularly troublesome. An analysis of a month’s invoices soon identified why for particular insurance company requires all invoices to be submitted electronically.
Except the invoices were woefully incomplete. For example, the patient’s date of birth or policy number or pre-authorisation was incorrect so each and every time the invoice failed.
To resolve the problem, it was imperative to make sure ALL the details are correct. That way invoices are correctly processed and not placed in a “holding” pile. So that was the cause of the issue.
Or was it?
Medical secretaries thought the receptionist was responsible for getting it right. The receptionist thought the medical secretaries were responsible. Then they both said the person who raised the invoice was responsible.
In reality nobody was making sure the data was right.
The result as a pile of meaningless rubbish.
The spat was costing tens of thousands of pounds and the holding pile was not only greater than the value of average daily outpatient appointments. Worse it was also STILL growing.
Skip forward a few months. The receptionist obtains the details and checks them. The medical secretary ensures all the details are recorded on patient records accurately and checks them again. The person responsible for medical invoicing highlights on a daily basis ANY invoices which fail. The holding pile is now less than 0.5%.
Is this overkill?
Cash input from this ONE insurance company has increased by around 160%. It’s not overkilling at all.
And all have realised a little pre-emptive medicine has stopped rubbish in = rubbish out issue.
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Another day arrives. Its time to invoice yesterday’s clinics.
This is a good example of not paying sufficient attention to the clinic list. It almost cost the consultant £60. The patient was marked down as a follow-up. An invoice for £144 will be sent to the patient’s insurance company.
According to MHM, the consultant had never seen this patient before. A quick phone call established that this was actually a new patient so a £204 invoice was required for an initial consultation and not for a £144 follow up.
Who was responsible for making the mistake isn’t really the driver. It is important of course but mistakes happen. Of more importance is having a process to identify and correct the error.
Before it costs you £60.
All you have to do is outsource the invoicing to someone who checks absolutely everything.
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Many times, consultant surgeons have approached MHM because they, as consultant surgeons, don’t like asking patients for the money.
And from a certain point of view, this is exactly how it should be. New MHM clients don’t, however, remain MHM clients if they are in the profession just for the money. That said, what happens if you don’t ask for the money?
Firstly, most private patients are insured. Therefore MHM is asking for payment from an insurance company and not a patient. Secondly, if there is an excess or shortfall etc, most patients will pay such excess when they are asked.
If you don’t or are afraid to ask for the money there is a high possibility you won’t be paid for it.
Private practice is a business. It may be a business where patient welfare comes first, second and third as it should and in certain cases a patient should NOT be asked to pay but fundamentally a private practice is a business.
Ask for the money.
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What a truly awful expression!
It was said to me recently by a medical secretary who was struggling to get all her invoicing done.
Her belief was that she had only many hours in the day and it was difficult to get everything done in those hours. Therefore invoicing was completed when time allowed.
In other words, it was a low priority. There were more important things to do.
I’m sure there were. But it depends on what you decide is a priority and what is not.
I’m in the office at 8am and I finish at 8pm. Monday to Thursday that timespan is there every day. Friday it’s 7am to 1pm.
The day actually starts the evning before when I list in my Ical all the task for the following day.
The tasks ALWAYS start with invoicing clients clinics from the previous day. That takes top priority because MHM gets paid to make sure it’s clients get paid which starts with raising an invoice.
So that task can take me a few hours; somedays it may take me a whole morning. But it’s done everyday.
A medical secretary has other things to do as well. Dealing with patients is one. Typing clinic letters is another. And the phone keeps ringing too.
She has to do those things because they are priorities.
But if time doesn’t allow her to raise invoices, then the practice won’t get paid. It is a simple as that.
It’s not time that is dictating if a practice gets paid, it’s setting priorities that dictates if a practice gets paid.
Isn’t a strange that one of the first things to be kicked down the list of things to do is raising invoices? That is unfortunate considering getting paid is important because if the practice doesn’t it won’t be around for long.
And here’s the dilemma.
Everything is important. Dealing with patients. Typing letters. Answering the phone. And even raising invoices. They all have to be done.
The problem starts though when any one of them is neglected at the expense of another.
In that situation the very worse thing you can do is carry on regardless and muddle through somehow.
That inevitably leads to disaster.
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Anybody ever watched the movie “Jerry Maguire” and the immortal quote – show me the money!
Clearly a guy I recently bumped into at a medical conference hadn’t. He was the Practice Manager for a large hospital group.
His complaint was the lack of cash from insurance companies coming into the business.
His solution had been to analysis the internal administrative process of the hospital; make sure everybody knew their role and when to do it.
He ended up with a very comprehensive PowerPoint presentation.
Indeed he had spent four months doing just that.
After four months nothing had changed really.
I couldn’t help but think about his thought process.
He had gone around writing reports and compiling analysis rather than actually speaking to the insurance companies and finding out what the problem was from THEIR end?
In other words WHY they were not paying him?
If he had done so he would have immediately realised his practice was not invoicing correctly.
If he had asked the insurance companies they would have told him just that.
Only then could the practice start to review and possibly change the process to make sure they did get paid.
Start with the basics. Or as Jerry Maguire would say:
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