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Medical Practice Disaster Plan

Over the last couple of years there has been so many natural disaster that most people were not prepared for.  There are also man-made disasters that happen as well, such as a possible gas leak, electricity pole down and fires.  Having a disaster plan doesn’t have to cost a lot of money but without one it could be severely costly to a medical practice.

One area of concern could be if you were to lose power or phone service was lost.  It’s also a good idea to have a staff phone book where you have each and every staff member list their emergency contacts such as name and phone numbers of several people in case of an emergency.  If employees have health issues they could also list those issues and also medication that they take.  Also the make and model of their car is also a helpful piece of information.

Keeping track of what patients have checked in the office and what patients have checked out is also a good way in an emergency to be able to determine who is in the building.  Having a supply of emergency supplies should be in a couple of areas of the office in case one area cannot be reached.  An emergency supply kit should not only contain first aid supplies but also a supply of food and water.  These items should be checked regularly to make sure it has not spoiled and items should be clearly marked with an expiration date for easy replacement.  Waiting for a disaster to strike and then try and figure out what is needed is way too late.

If the power is out it would be good to have plenty of batteries and flashlights.  In an emergency you really don’t know how long before help arrives.  Having blankets and pillows should also be included in the emergency kit.  Staff and physicians should have a disaster plan set in place.  It even would be a good idea to have a practice run of what to do during an emergency. 

There are many discount stores and warehouse stores that offer emergency kits that include many items mentioned above.  Army surplus stores are also a good place to purchase supplies.  All staff members along with the physician should be aware of where all the supplies are and what actions should be taken when or if an emergency happens.  At least once or twice a year these procedures should be examined.  New employees should also be trained and made aware of the disaster plan.

Things happen at a split second and it’s such an advantage to physicians, staff member and patients to have a well prepared office in case of an emergency.

Marina Hall is a Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS) and founder of MariAnn Medical Billing Service. To read a full “Interview with Marina Hall” visit her website at

Click here to read testimonies regarding MariAnn Medical Billing Service

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Ways To Avoid Billing Problems Before They Happen

One of the most frustrating things that can happen when billing is when a claim is denied and your claim was a “clean claim”.  Here are some ways for physician offices to strategize ways to minimize and hopefully avoid a denial or waiting a long period of time for payment. 


The very best time to resolve a potential problem with third-party payers is before a problem happens.  One way is to build relationships with various provider representatives.  A cooperative and professional understanding can be established through ongoing communication.


By identifying carriers that can at times be a problem is helpful when determining who to target when trying to build a relationship with.  Make a spreadsheet which pinpoints who these payers are and if there record shows that they consistently fail to pay within 90 days of submitting the claim.  Show in different columns how many times claims have to be resubmitted, what proportion of claims are rejected, the dollar amount of the claims submitted compared to the amount received and the time between the claim being submitted and when the payment was received. 


These facts are good statistics to provide a pattern to the payer and hopefully persuade them to improve the promptness of their reimbursement patterns.  For the most part, insurance payers require that a physician’s claim be submitted within 90 days.  Is this being done? 


To analyze this date properly, the medical biller should review past payments and EOB’s in order to identify these problems before submitting more claims.  The insurance payer also has a responsibility within their contract that denotes a deadline for which they must send reimbursements.   When submitting a clean claim to insurance payers; you have the right to expect payment within 90 days of submission. 


Another way to examine rejections from payers is classifying them by CPT or ICD codes which can also be a way to see if for whatever reasons these certain codes are being rejected.


Now that you have all this data, put into action a plan.  Use this data to help you to submit clean bills and cut back on money lost due to rejections from insurance payers and having to resubmit claims.  At the same time, set up a system to track the steps that were taken to solve these billing issues.


From time to time it’s good to set up a conference call between the physician or the insurance biller or both to bring these issues up to them.  All this documentation and data that has been gathered is very helpful when speaking with payers so that your point is proven with facts.  You may at times have to document patterns of payment but with polite negotiations with the payer representatives you’re able to resolve issues promptly which leads to an improvement in cash flow for the office and a satisfying work

environment for all.


Marina Hall is a Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS) and founder of MariAnn Medical Billing Service. To read a full “Interview with Marina Hall” visit her website at

Click here to read testimonies regarding MariAnn Medical Billing Service

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Billing and Collections During Hard Economic Times Part II

As we discussed in the preceding article the fact that it’s getting harder and harder to collect patient balances.  This can definitely be frustrating, time consuming and often unsuccessful.  The Commercial Collection Agency Association showed that after 3 months of an outstanding bill, the probability of collecting is 73%, after 6 months 57% and 29% after a year.  When the amount of the bill is minimal the figures are even less. 

Staff should be well trained as to how to collect payment from patients.  When visiting a retail store and you decide on what you’re going to purchase, do you walk past the registers and say “bill me”, that would and could never happen.  So why do physicians allow this to happen in their offices? 

One way to tactfully implement payment is due upon service, is setting up signs in the office where they can clearly be seen.  Staff members should also be trained as to how to ask for payment.  Such as “how would you like to pay?”  Then the staff member should start to write out a receipt to show the patient that payment is due.  Reminding patients when confirming appointments is another opportunity to inform them of the policy.

Consider accepting credit cards and debit cards.  This is a good way to collect payment due to the fact you have the assurance in a matter of seconds if the payment went through.  One suggestion is due to some patient’s having high deductibles and it’s difficult to figure out what the exact bill will be, have the front desk take an imprint of the credit card and bill half the amount and then let them know that they will be billed the remainder and will receive a statement when they learn of the final amount from the insurer. 

Sometimes it becomes necessary to use a collection agency.  It’s best to come up with a plan in this case.  How many statements should go out before action must be taken?  Some physicians send up to 6 statements.  It should suffice to send 3 statements over a 3 month period.  One method used by a physician’s office was to send the 3rd statement as a certified letter; this ensures that it has reached the appropriate address with a person’s signature showing that the statement was received.  A phone call after the 2nd statement would do well also.  After the 3rd statement is sent, give the patient 15 days to respond with an actual date printed on the statement of the day it will be sent to collections. 

Collection agencies generally charge a percentage of the monies collected.  Most companies fees range from 12% to 50%.  It would do well for you and the patient to not have it get to that point but if necessary there are many good collections agencies to choose from.

Marina Hall is a Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS) and founder of MariAnn Medical Billing Service. To read a full “Interview with Marina Hall” visit her website at

Click here to read testimonies regarding MariAnn Medical Billing Service

“Like” us on Facebook at