Workflow and Productivity Assessment for the Medical Office

Workflow and productivity are essential for the success of the medical office. A streamlined workflow will naturally improve employee productivity. A medical office without efficient ways to perform necessary job duties cannot perform them effectively.

A detailed and well-developed policy and procedure manual that is readily accessible to the medical office staff can greatly strengthen the entire team.

Your policy should include a continuing education program to ensure all employees are kept up-to-date on office policies, compliance, and job-specific requirements.

Front Desk Staff and Workflow

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The success of the Medical Office largely depends on how well the front end staff performs.

  1. Registration Accuracy: The cycle of a patient account originates with the initial entry of patient demographic information which includes patient demographics and insurance information. Invalid information can delay payment.
  2. Scheduling Efficiency: Does your medical office have a high no-show rate? One way to reduce no-shows is by the use of online patient scheduling. Patients can manage, schedule, or reschedule their own appointments which make no-shows less likely.
  3. Patient Satisfaction: Providing high-quality care and excellent customer service will improve patient satisfaction, preventing loss of revenue for the medical office.

Documentation and Coding

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An assessment of documentation and coding ensures that every patient chart is accurate, complete, and meets coding standards compliance. Proper documentation and coding are essential to accurate charge capture, effective billing and collections, and denials management.

  1. Are you still using the old paper-based charting system? Switching to an electronic health record (EHR) can improve accuracy and reduce costs.
  2. Proper assignment of emergency & management (E/M) level of service to the correlating diagnosis or ICD-9 codes are important for reimbursement and coding compliance.
  3. Don't allow transcription and medical records coding delays affect the billing cycle. Set the timeframe for completion at a minimum of three to five days.

Billing and Collections

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Billing and collections best practices show four ways to manage the workflow for maximum reimbursement.

  1. Work all accounts receivable accounts from a high dollar to low dollar. This results in lower AR days, meaning your medical office is collecting more money in a shorter period of time.
  2. At least 90 percent of medical office claims should be billed electronically. Electronic claims usually process within seven to 10 days. Paper claims can take 30 days or longer.
  3. Use web-based tools to check claim status. This can take two to three minutes versus the 20-30 minutes on hold with an insurance company.
  4. Identify causes of denials and underpayments in order to avoid future revenue loss or delay. This also means making sure denials are resolved in a timely manner.

Miscellaneous Workflow Questions

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  1. Have tasks been clearly defined by job responsibility?
  2. How will you make the transition from paper records to EMR (electronic medical record)?
  3. Do you have an ongoing training and development plan for all employees?
  4. Have all job areas been identified as improving workflow success?
  5. Have you evaluated the layout of the office and patient areas?
  6. Do you have the most current and up-to-date HIT (health information technology)?

Tip #1: Develop a Winning Upfront Collections Policy

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An important part of the revenue cycle is upfront collections, which reduce the number of patient accounts that end up in bad debt or collections status. It is easier to collect from patients prior to services being rendered than 60 days later after insurance has finally paid.

Tip #2: Ensure Accurate Medical Coding

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Medical coding is a major factor in obtaining insurance reimbursement as well as maintaining patient records. Coding claims accurately let the insurance payer know the illness or injury of the patient and the method of treatment.

Tip #3: Using Chart Audits to Reduce Billing Errors

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The fast pace of the medical office is the ideal environment for billing errors. By performing chart audits regularly, you will see which errors are more common and develop policies, systems, and training to reduce them.

Analyze Your Patient Flow

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Determining how your patients move throughout your medical office should be one of the first areas to be assessed.

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