To Audit or Not to Audit – That is the Question

By October 28, 2016 June 11th, 2019 Revenue Cycle Management
Audit

Uncover the black holes in your revenue cycle management processes that impact your ASC’s bottom line.

Do you know what you don’t know?  Many revenue cycle management companies assess their services based on key performance indicators (KPIs).  Accounts receivable (AR) days, collections, bad debt, net revenue per case, days to bill, and days to pay are usually at the top of the KPI list.  While KPIs can provide you with a high level view of what is happening with your business, other seemingly minor items can result in uncollected revenue that may go undetected.  This is why auditing is crucial.

Auditing is a time consuming, daunting task.  Those being audited may feel it is punitive.  However, this necessary evil reveals a lot about the efficiency of your revenue cycle management processes.  Let’s look at the bright side of what you can discover while auditing and how your findings can result in process improvement that typically increases your bottom line.

There are many areas to audit – patient registration, coding, charge entry, denied claims, AR follow-up, and collections to name a few.  Routinely and randomly auditing your internal processes allows you to identify gaps that need to be closed, provide additional employee education when needed, ensure your payors correctly load your contracts in their systems, tighten your patient collections process, and so many more.  Let’s look at some of these in more detail.

Registration Audits

Accurate patient registration is the first step to a clean claim.  Routine auditing of registration errors will shed light on struggles being faced at your front desk.  Medicare Advantage Plans routinely trip up front desk personnel who may register the insurance carrier as Aetna rather than Aetna Medicare.  A key point to share with your front desk team is to consider the age of the patient to determine if he or she is a candidate for Medicare coverage.  Also, spend some time looking at copies of insurance cards with your front desk.  Create a notebook of insurance card samples and review them routinely, highlighting areas on the cards that will lead to proper insurance registration.

Another common registration error is registering a young child as the policy holder.  If the patient is not the policy holder, the date of birth of the policy holder will be required to file a clean claim.

Finally, ensure your front desk is taking advantage of online payor tools to verify eligibility and benefits, file requests for authorization, and determine the remaining deductible on each patient’s plan.

Coding Audits

Internal and external coding audits are an essential undertaking.  External audits supply an additional level of compliance and accountability for your coding services.  The external audit results can support internal audit findings or identify areas needing focus that your internal audits may have overlooked.  An external auditor can provide a non-biased, objective audit for you.  Internal audits provide a benchmark to compare to your external audits.  They also help you recognize when additional coder and/or physician education is needed to maintain compliance or secure proper reimbursement.

In your endeavor to obtain maximum allowed reimbursement, ask yourself the following questions.  Are you capturing all available procedures and billing them properly?  Are special modifiers required by individual payors recorded accurately?  Do your diagnosis codes reflect the greatest level of specificity?

Cash Posting Audits

Cash posting audits serve many purposes.  The accuracy of cash posting determines the need for the following:

  • Appeals on underpaid claims
  • Fee schedule increases
  • Payor contract updates in your patient accounting system
  • Additional education to employees on payor contracts and terms
  • Patient statement accuracy
  • Proper journal coding of adjustments
  • Timely credit balance reconciliation
  • Additional education to employees based on your audit findings

Denial Audits

Auditing your denials can be telling.  Are your employees filing timely appeals?  Timely filing requirements, similar to those applied to claims submission, also come into play with appeals.  Do your employees know what they are appealing and why?  If they don’t, unnecessary time is spent appealing denials that will not be successfully overturned.  Some examples are:

  • Filing an appeal on a code bundled into another procedure
  • Filing an appeal on a code that required a pre-authorization which was not obtained
  • Filing an appeal for medical necessity without reviewing the payor’s coverage policy of the procedure
  • Filing an appeal outside the timely filing limits set on the appeal
  • Filing an appeal of an implant payment when separate payment for implants is not allowed per the payor contract

Final Notes

Getting everyone involved in process improvement fosters buy-in and improves your chances of successfully tackling specific issues; but you can’t stop there.  You have to conduct routine audits to make sure old processes or bad habits don’t resurface.

Your time is valuable – make it count!  Determine where your pain points are and begin auditing there.  Share audit results with your employees.  Resolve the issues.  Celebrate the successes and the failures.  Those “failures” lead to correction of issues and improved processes.  Your efforts will pay off in reduced errors and, ultimately, enhance your bottom line.


By Carol Ciluffo – Vice President of Revenue Cycle Management

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