As the year of 2015 draws to a close, those in the medical billing industry might be wondering what will be in store for them in 2016. There have been so many changes in the industry within the last few years, between coding and healthcare insurance regulations, we are all hoping for a chance to catch our breaths.
While there are no signs that more major changes will be coming our way, the challenges from 2015 can carry over into the New Year. Here is what you need to know for medical billing in 2016, and how you might be able to prepare your billing team for such challenges.
Having Enough Staff Members
As more institutions outsource their medical billing, thanks to the implementation of ICD-10, this is great news for the booming industry of practice management system in 2016. However, while the idea of more business is exciting, you will need to consider whether or not you have a large enough staff to support the amount of work that will be coming in. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a job outlook growth for medical records technicians of 22 percent by 2022, which makes it safe to say that the medical billing industry is rapidly growing.
If you do find that you will need to add more members to your team, then of course this is something that will have to be factored into your budgeting. Because of regulatory changes in coding and billing, there might be a certain amount of training that these professionals undergo before you let them work on their own. Depending on whether your particular billing company uses the calendar or fiscal-year for tax purposes, you might onboard these new employees at the start of your new tax year.
Keeping Up with Regulatory Changes
The International Classification of Disease, ICD, implemented the new coding system on October of this year. ICD-10 comes with a multitude of changes from its predecessor, ICD-9. This new coding has probably already affected your billing company and will continue to do so into the New Year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recognize this and announced that there is a one-year grace period for ICD-10 slip-ups until everyone has the new, regulatory changes under their belts.
However, it is best to prevent these mistakes from happening in the first place, because we all know that it makes processes move that much more smoothly. Of course, still adjusting to the changes in healthcare insurance, on top of ICD-10, does not make things any easier. Moving into 2016, your staff should be more familiar with these specific changes, but you will have to remain on the lookout for regulatory changes, as it seems that they are consistently ongoing.
Staying Current with Software
Entering 2016 means that we are that much closer to electronic healthcare records (EHR) being the standard for the medical billing industry. A large portion of healthcare facilities use these systems in order to store patient data, but there are still a number of offices that use written records. Because there is a mix of electronic and paper data, it can be difficult to keep processes consistent and efficient in your own office.
Even if all facilities were to use EHR, there are still different versions of software that can be used to best support the practice’s needs. So, as a medical billing solution, it is your job to keep employees current on all forms of this software so that there are no snags during billing. For example, keeping up with regulatory changes, staying up to date on your technology can help improve efficiency for your company, which can boost customer satisfaction as a result.
Navigating Payment Collections
Along with new technologies, mobile device-friendly patient portals are being introduced into the market as a way for patients to make payments on their medical billing. Unfortunately, with complex healthcare insurance and the changes in coding, it can be challenging to come to the correct billing solution.
If the patient in question refuses to make their payments for whatever reason, tracking them down in 2016 won’t be any easier than it has been. However, we are hoping that with these mobile solutions, billing will be made easy for patients, and they will be more likely to pay their bills, in-full, on time. With that being said, this will be another new system you will have to incorporate into your processes.
Overview: Medical Billing in 2016
While there are advances that we will see in 2016, keeping up with it all can get overwhelming. If you have a large enough staff that is competent with the new regulations and technologies, things should be okay for your medical billing company. However, if you find that you and your team are in a pinch, a third party solution might be able to help you through these transitioning times.
Author Bio: Aiden Spencer is a Healthcare IT Researcher who focuses various engaging and informative topics related to the health IT industry. He loves to research and write about topics such as Practice management system, EHR, revenue cycle management, Medical Billing and security of patient health data. You can get in touch with him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Aidenspencer15