Sarah Hanna: Save with office efficiency

Monday, April 30, 2007

When was the last time you took a close look at your denials and plotted a strategy for reducing future problem claims? Not frequently enough if you're like most HME providers, says Sarah Hanna, a billing and reimbursement consultant with ECS Billing & Consulting. She'll offer tips on improving billing and reimbursement efficiencies in her session "Office Efficiencies = Cash in Hand" at Medtrade Spring. Here, she offers her thoughts on why inefficiency costs providers money.
HME News: What are some of the inefficiencies you think exist in the industry today?
Sarah Hanna: Providers are so busy running their businesses day-to-day that they don't take time to analyze ways to improve. Many of their intake and billing processes are time wasters that were put into effect many years before. Also, providers aren't using technology to its fullest to enhance their processes. There are ways to track and trend your denials to see where you are missing opportunities to fix intake and billing errors. Providers need to take a fresh look at their internal operations. Find the problems, fix the process and increase cash flow.
HME: Why do you say those inefficiencies are costing providers money? And how much do you think they're losing by operating inefficiently?
Hanna: Every denial equals money that isn't in the company's bank account. Lack of training and not taking the time to change the way things have been done in the past leads to business inefficiencies. Lack of change is one of the biggest problems in this industry. Also, when new employees are not trained properly, this leads to poor decisions at intake and poor billing practices. But you can't afford not to train. It takes approximately one year of good training before an intake person and biller are fully operational and can contribute to the success of the company.
HME: Describe how an efficient HME provider operates his/her business. What traits or characteristics do these efficient providers share?
Hanna: Successful companies are those that invest in technology and training to enhance their operations. They analyze their businesses when they see variances in their operations. They focus on their weak spots and develop action plans to improve. They make the investment in time and money to make changes and look to the future rather than being so bogged down in the day-to-day that they can't see where they are heading.
HME: If providers walk away from your session at Medtrade Spring with just one key piece of advice, what would it be and why?
Hanna: That they should start tracking their denials. Denials are one way to see where they're missing opportunities to operate at a higher level. Knowing where their denials are coming from allows them to hone in on the top five and focus on how to improve the process to reduce those denial categories. Denials are not just a billing department problem. They are a company-wide issue.
Sarah Hanna
Title/company: vice president with Tiffin, Ohio-based ECS Billing & Consulting, Inc.
Session: "Office Efficiencies = Cash in Hand"
Date: Wednesday, April 25, 8:30 a.m.
Contact: (419) 448-5332 or