How telehealth can help hospitals improve billing and payment collections
Telehealth has not only revolutionized the delivery of healthcare services but has also made billing and payment processes more convenient. The new model of healthcare delivery has shown time and again that it is far superior to the traditional way of doing things. In fact, hospitals and other healthcare systems often struggle with inefficient and irregular revenue cycles.
There are several best practices associated with telehealth services that make this process so much more convenient than it normally is. Some strategies to improve your medical billing process would be:
Detailed Record Keeping
It is far easier to maintain detailed records of all patients when the right kind of technology and software are used, which is why telehealth providers invest in good software and the appropriate technology to go with it. Accurate documentation of each interaction with a patient, in terms of how much time the encounter took and how much of it was face-to-face, can be monitored automatically by means of an electronic counter.
The time spent and the key components of a treatment should be recorded so that the billing can be as accurately computed as possible.
Billing the Video Component With the Correct Code
Videoconferencing is one of the main components of telehealth services, and it should be billed so that errors can be avoided and prompt reimbursement can happen. For this reason, it’s important to bill the video component with the correct CPT code.
Accounting For the Use of Peripherals
If peripherals like thermometers, spirometers, glucose monitors and blood pressure monitors are used, it should be clearly stated in the patient’s records. This will also make the billing process smoother and more accurate. The CPT code you use to account for the use of peripherals may also ask for supporting evidence regarding the use of the equipment you mention.
Billing “Synchronous” and “Asynchronous” Services Separately
Interactions with patients that are conducted in real-time are referred to as synchronous services, where an interactive visit between the doctor and the patient qualifies for billing purposes. These interactions can either be audio or video calls and they require appropriate documentation.
Services that are categorized as asynchronous are ones where medical information is provided and reviewed at a later time.
Checking Policies That Apply to Your State
Before billing and reimbursement claims are submitted, the concerned state’s policies on digital health coverage should be checked. Even Medicare and Medicaid services and policies can differ depending on the state, the geographic location of the places where healthcare is provided as well as where it originates.
The correct way of billing is becoming more and more important especially now that telehealth has seen increased successes.
EMR and Medical Billing Software
An electronic medical billing system is an essential component in telehealth services for a variety of reasons, one being HIPAA compliance, and another being checking a patient’s insurance eligibility before they receive medical care.
Medical billing software does not only make you HIPAA compliant, but it also provides you with plenty of features and resources that greatly simplify your billing process. Good software will make your records and bills easier to locate and it will make filing claims much more convenient.
These software packages can be a bit expensive but worth the investment because they automate the most time-consuming and redundant parts of the billing process, while also eliminating errors in data entry, payment or claim submissions.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandate a requirement that all medical billing claims have to be sent electronically. This is one of the biggest reasons why medical billing software has started gaining popularity in recent years.
Payment Problems in Traditional Settings and Telehealth Benefits
Most of the payment is made after the patient has received care, which is why hospitals have always found it difficult to collect the remaining balance from patients. Since bills also tend to be very complex, patients find it hard to understand exactly what they owe and end up putting it off.
Newer health delivery models like telehealth have solved these problems almost completely. Since these models are built around consumer-related conveniences, they are being adopted quickly and without hesitation. Apart from convenience, however, another major advantage they provide is timeliness. Thanks to telehealth software packages, payments can now be made on time because the otherwise confusing billing is very easy for patients to understand.
From a hospital’s perspective, the best time to collect money from a patient is while he or she is still in the hospital. So, in a nutshell, convenience, simplicity and clarity are the things that set telehealth billing and payment processes apart from the traditional ways of doing things.
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Dr. Josh is a physician who's helping spread the knowledge about Telehealth and its advantages. At SmartClinix, he's providing his expertise and knowledge in the form of engaging articles on various health & tech related topics.