If at first you don’t succeed … then you’re in for a world of heartaches and hassles later down the line. That’s especially true when it comes to healthcare registration records.
It’s been my experience in more than 15 years of revenue cycle management work—from frontline professional to director of billing to CEO—that if you start the billing process with insufficient, incomplete, or inaccurate information, then you’ll experience a long line of obstacles, delays, and derailments throughout the entire process. Start things off off-center and you usually end up off-center—and that’s inefficient and costly.
On the other hand, if you make sure your initial documents are correct and comprehensive from the onset, you’ll significantly increase your chances of an accurately documented, swiftly facilitated, and completely compensated claim. Start things off on the right track and you merely need to nudge things here or there to run successfully through the finish line.
Here are some key considerations in creating top-notch registration documents:
Accuracy: the first place to start
First and foremost, anyone in accounting or billing—especially in healthcare revenue cycle management—needs to commit to a policy of total honesty and accuracy in their handling of claims. This isn’t just for most of the records, most of the time. It’s for all of them, all of the time. Regardless of the amount of time, effort, and expense it takes.
You don’t get any extra credit for hopingor intendingor tryingto maintain accurate records. Getting names, addresses, and vital information correct is absolutely fundamental. Accuracy is also essential when it comes to coding and making sure the right codes accompany the right claims. It’s not always an easy task. The degree to which you are comprehensive and factual will determine whether you are ultimately productive and profitable.
Comprehensiveness: all or nothing
Just as important as accuracy—providing the information you know to be correct—is comprehensiveness. Filling out everythingthat is needed for a claim to be successfully navigated through the often long and tedious revenue cycle is key. You don’t get to pick and choose which information you provide.
Incomplete answers at any stage will put everything on hold or in unlimited limbo—besides, that data has to be provided eventually—before the claim makes it to completion. Sounds simple. It’s not. As those in the industry know, every bit of incomplete information only proves to slow down and complicate the process, sometimes to the point of seemingly no return.
Communication: open, accurate, and often
Too many times, professionals in billing and collecting fail to take advantage of one of the most potentially useful tools in their revenue cycle management arsenal: communication. If the business of business if people, then communication is how you most easily and effectively deal with them—from clients to providers to everyone you encounter.
And though there is definitely an art to the highest forms of communication, it often essentially comes down to the simplicity, clarity, constancy, and common sense. Being available, friendly, cooperative, helpful, responsive, concise, and consistent are all elements in communicating well with others that end up helping you achieve the results you want. And all of this contributes significantly to keeping outstanding registration documents.
Legalities/compliance: keeping it legal and compliant
Another major consideration for those working with registration documents involves the areas of legalities and compliance. Unfortunately, they are often considered “dirty words” or areas to be avoided; they don’t have to be. Those who are up-to-date, adept, and agile in the these areas—to which I would agree there are ample numbers in healthcare—are those who will most benefit from the power and security they can provide.
Most legal and compliance stipulations are in effect because they need to be in effect. They are there for protection and privacy safeguards for those working hard to operate within industry requirements, and as a way of weeding out those providers who fail to abide by healthcare standards. Many a claim has been a success or failure or legal case has been won or lost because of the accuracy of records.
Reputation: as your records go, so do you
Maintaining the highest caliber of registration records isn’t just a reflection of a single staff member or a practice’s skill, intelligence, or experience level. And accurate and complete records aren’t just a way to ensure that your practice is efficient and profitable as it can be. Being accurate, comprehensive, well communicative, and compliant is also a reflection on your corporate mindset and vision.
Think of the life of a claim—and its initial registration documents—as a long race with a specific start and finish line. The better off your start—ensuring the most accurate and complete records—the easier, more effective, and more enjoyable your race will be. However, if you stumble and are off-focus at the beginning, you’ll have a rough and challenging race throughout.