In this article, Nitin Chhoda reveals the common mistakes in medical billing and coding that can quickly impact the cash flow of a private practice.
Some of the mistakes such as illegible handwriting, use of language and incorrect details can be avoided by using an automated physical therapy documentation system.
Medical billing and coding errors, mistakes, oversights and insufficient coding represent the most costly problems that physical therapy practices face, resulting in the loss of thousands of dollars in revenue each year.
The busier the clinic, the more likely it is that the problem will occur. An EMR will help eliminate denials and late payments, but practice owners must make medical billing and coding a priority.
Insurance providers are scrutinizing reimbursement claims more closely than ever before, making it imperative that the person responsible for billing and coding be trained and knowledgeable in the specialized language of the profession and familiar with EMR practices.
Sometimes it’s the simplest codes that create denials and a professional medical billing coder can make a tremendous difference in the revenues collected.
The little things in medical billing and coding can wreak real havoc on revenues and result in denials. Identifying a male client as female, dates that don’t match, using outdated codes and not coding for a multiple diagnosis are just some of the ways therapists slow down their cash flow and generate denials. Illegible handwriting is always a problem and if the writing can’t be read, it can be deemed unbillable. Utilizing an EMR will eliminate such problems.
Coders rely on therapists for the information needed to correctly code claims. The language and terms taught and learned in school aren’t necessarily those used in a real world practice.
It’s important for the therapist to include notes to ensure coders have enough information to bill at the highest acceptable level. Therapists should also impress upon medical billing coders the need to look at the explanation of procedures.
Physical therapists offer a wide range of services and products, but in a busy practice, some may go unnoticed when it’s time for billing. Failure to bill for ancillary services such as, medications and supplies dispensed in the office, along with x-rays and lab work that was performed, are just some of the ways that therapists rob themselves of essential income. Clinicians need to make a conscious effort to ensure that each service, appliance and aid is documented for medical billing purposes.
If the service, treatment or procedure isn’t documented, it can’t be billed. Coders can only work with the information provided, even with a technologically advanced EMR. Relying on the coder to “know” that a specific service was provided is pure folly. Document everything in detail and be clear about the type of service offered, including referrals and consultations. It may take a few extra seconds, but the extra time will pay off in greater revenues even in your medical billing.
Up- and down-coding
Medical billing for services at a higher level than documentation supports is embarrassing in the extreme. Many clinicians choose to down-code, hoping to avoid the specter of an audit, and only succeed in cheating themselves of valuable reimbursements.
Insurance providers aren’t infallible and it’s up to the practice owner to carefully oversee the explanation of benefits to catch medical billing mistakes when they occur. There’s a tendency to think once the reimbursement claim has been submitted, that’s the end of the process.
In truth, it’s simply the beginning. Insurance companies can lose or misplace claims, or never receive them at all. Therapists who don’t conduct regular audits on the state of their claims stand to lose significant amounts of money.
In the new economy, it’s essential that physical therapists code correctly to ensure they’re reimbursed for their time, services and supplies. Every precaution must be taken to provide clear and concise documentation. The implementation of a correct medical billing EMR will greatly reduce the number of errors, mistakes and denials for the financial health of any clinic.