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Understanding Accounts Receivable (AR) Follow-Up and Collections in Behavioral Health Providers

As a behavioral health provider, you focus on providing high-quality care and support to your patients. However, it’s equally important to ensure that your practice’s financial health is in order. One crucial aspect of financial management is effectively managing Accounts Receivable (AR) follow-up and collections. In this blog post, we’ll define AR follow-up and collections and explore why they are crucial for behavioral health providers.

What is Accounts Receivable (AR) Follow-Up?

Accounts Receivable (AR) is the total amount of money owed to a practice by patients or insurance companies for the services you have provided. AR follow-up refers to the process of monitoring and managing these outstanding payments to ensure their timely collection.

First, AR follow-up involves verification and submission of claims. This ensures accurate and timely submission of claims to insurance companies and verifying the insurance coverage and benefits for each patient. Second, we need to track and monitor payment cycles which ultimately means identifying any delays or discrepancies in payments, and promptly following up on outstanding claims. You can count on the team at Integrity Billing to do this. 

Third, AR follow-up deals with resolving claim denials and rejections. Our team investigates and resolves claim denials or rejections by providing necessary documentation or appealing the decision if required. When It comes to patient billing and invoicing, generating and sending patient statements is crucial and then tracking their payments, and lastly addressing any billing inquiries or disputes is made a priority.

What is Collections?

Collections, in the context of a behavioral health practice, refers to the process of pursuing and collecting payments that are past due or have not been fulfilled within the defined payment terms. This process may involve sending reminders and notifications to patients or insurance companies about outstanding balances through reminders, emails, or phone calls. It also includes establishing manageable payment plans. For the more extreme cases, reach out to our team that specializes in healthcare debt collection to pursue unpaid debts.

The Importance of AR Follow-Up and Collections for Behavioral Health Providers

Efficient AR follow-up and collections processes are crucial for the financial stability AND success of behavioral health providers. Timely and consistent follow-up on outstanding payments ensures a steady cash flow for your practice, helping you cover operating expenses, employee salaries, and other essential costs. By promptly collecting payments owed to your practice, you minimize the risk of accumulating excessive bad debt and reduce the financial burden on your business. In addition, effective AR follow-up and collections optimizes your revenue cycle management by minimizing payment delays, denials, and write-offs. Hello to improved financial performance!

Clear and consistent communication throughout the AR follow-up and collections process demonstrates your commitment to transparent financial practices. By being proactive and responsive to patient inquiries or concerns, you foster positive relationships and maintain patient satisfaction.

Behavioral health providers must comply with various billing and reimbursement regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines. Effective AR follow-up and collections ensure compliance with these regulations, reducing the risk of legal or financial consequences.

While providing excellent patient care is a top priority for behavioral health providers, it is equally essential to establish efficient accounts receivable follow-up and collections processes. By effectively managing these aspects of your practice’s finances, you can ensure a steady cash flow, reduce bad debt, optimize revenue cycle management, maintain positive patient relationships, and stay in compliance with industry regulations. Implementing robust AR follow-up and collections strategies will contribute to the stability and success of your behavioral health practice.

Remedy Common Issues with Accounts Receivable

When it comes to AR follow-up and collections in healthcare, certain common problems can arise. However, with the right strategies and remedies, you can overcome these challenges effectively. Let’s look at some common issues and their remedies involved in accounts receivable follow-up and collections.

Having issues tracking the status of claims? It can be challenging to keep track of the status of claims submitted to insurance companies. Delays or lack of visibility can impact cash flow and hinder timely collections. You can remedy this by utilizing practice management software. We recommend investing in a reliable practice management system that allows you to track and monitor claims in real-time, providing visibility into their status. Also, it is important to proactively and regularly follow up with insurance companies to check on the progress of pending claims and address any delays promptly. Set up automated alerts or reminders to notify staff when a claim has been pending for an extended period, making sure timely action is taken.

Delays or Discrepancies

Looking to resolve payment delays or discrepancies? Sometimes, insurance companies delay payments or deny claims. This leads to payment discrepancies that need to be resolved promptly. Actively follow up on denied or delayed claims, contacting the insurance company to seek clarification or provide additional information/documentation if required.  Analyze the reasons for claim denials, identify patterns, and implement corrective measures to prevent similar denials in the future. Ensure accurate and complete documentation during the claims submission process, reducing the chances of claim denials due to missing or inaccurate information.

How do you collect balances from payers and patients? Collecting outstanding balances from both insurance companies and patients can be a tedious and time-consuming task. Inconsistent payment behavior or resistance from patients can further complicate the process. Clearly communicate payment terms and expectations to patients upfront, including the extent of their financial responsibility. Mention payment methods and due dates as well. Establish payment plans or offer alternative payment options to patients with financial constraints. This makes it easier for them to fulfill their obligations. Have a well-defined collections process in place, including sending reminders, utilizing collection agencies as a last resort, and consistently following up on overdue balances. It is helpful to offer financial counseling services to patients who face difficulties in paying their bills. You can assist them in exploring financial assistance programs or insurance coverage options.

Educate and Outsourcing

Are you lacking staff training or resources? Insufficient staff training or resources can hinder the efficient management of AR follow-up and collections, leading to delays and inefficiencies. Don’t let this set you back. Regularly educate and train staff members involved in AR follow-up and collections. Ensure they are well-equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to handle the tasks effectively. Leverage automation tools, practice management software, and revenue cycle management systems to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and reduce manual errors. When resources are limited, consider outsourcing certain AR follow-up and collections tasks to external agencies. Or use experts who specialize in healthcare revenue cycle management.

While AR follow-up and collections can come with challenges, implementing appropriate strategies and remedies can help overcome these obstacles. By tracking the status of claims, addressing payment delays, and collecting balances from payers and patients using the discussed remedies, you can improve your practice’s financial health, optimize revenue cycle management, and ensure a steady cash flow.

Reach Out to Outsource AR Follow-up/Collections

We can’t wait for your behavioral health practice to benefit from outsourcing AR follow-up/collections to Integrity Billing Company. Working with us, you’ll see improved cash flow, decreased bad debt, and enhanced customer service. Reach out today!