There is no doubt that the international COVID 19 health pandemic has gone far beyond thousands of dangerous infections and deaths, impacting almost every sector in the country. You likely know that healthcare organizations, such as hospitals and medical billing providers at the vanguard during this travail and challenging state, are most vulnerable.
Note that the initial wave of federal and state-imposed lockdowns might have effectively slowed the coronavirus from spreading, but the virus still poses a huge threat as people start to venture from their homes once again.
As you can imagine, healthcare providers in the US are still grappling with the various implications and ramifications of this crisis, including how it will change or affect the medical billing process in the short term as well as the long term.
COVID-19 and the Medical Billing Industry
You will know that the initial impact of the coronavirus pandemic affected how medical providers in the country delivered services. However, keep in mind that this health crisis has also considerably exposed a series of deeper issues and problems lingering below the surface of the modern healthcare industry.
Although vulnerabilities in supply chain and hospital capacity have garnered a lot of headlines, many medical practices will likely be impacted by this virus in terms of billing. It is no secret that the COVID-19 crisis has created or exacerbated the following medical billing issues and challenges:
- New billing and tracking updates
- A considerable increase in the number of denied medical claims
- Revenue cycle impacts
According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, now there may be a medical billing code for something as minor or obscure as being hurt or injured while knitting. However, many important activities associated with COVID-19 treatment are yet to receive their specific billing codes.
Perhaps, more importantly, many health insurance companies in the country are now experiencing serious disruption and challenges to their business model. It is worth mentioning that COVID-19-related costs might be soaring across the US.
However, the good news is that statewide lockdowns on many non-essential, elective procedures have helped most insurance providers absorb these expenses without really affecting their revenue. Did you know that in many cases, insurance companies are temporarily waiving deductibles and copayments for coronavirus treatments?
Increase in Remote Medical Billing
Because of convenience and other reasons, many medical billers and medical coders worked from home even before this pandemic. As medical billers tend to work independently and not collaboratively, note that it’s easy and straightforward to do this job remotely.
As the coronavirus shut down offices, most medical billing companies and medical institutions with an in-house billing team started having their staff work from home. Also, some medical facilities and institutions that had their own huge billing teams in the past are now noticing that their employees do well working from home.
As a result, they can save plenty of money by not dedicating space to the medical billing department.
You may know that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released new billing codes related to coronavirus lab work and testing. It is essential to update billing codes, and a failure to do so could have an adverse effect on billing and medical collections and the ability of the international healthcare industry to effectively track and then respond to valuable COVID-19 data.
Also, medical billers now have to use hundreds of new medical codes pertaining to various telehealth services and treatments associated with COVID-19. Keep in mind that as many medical billing departments in the country have struggled to stay updated with the most recent codes, many healthcare institutions and providers have found tremendous value in outsourcing medical coding and billing services to make sure that billing is handled correctly.
Similarly, your healthcare practice should keep detailed and comprehensive records of incoming supplies, inventories, and invoices.
Medical Billing for Telehealth
Because of the COVID-19 crisis in the US, the federal government has relaxed billing restrictions on many telehealth services. For example, in March, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that they would expand Medicare coverage to include visual and audio telehealth visits, e-visits, and virtual check-ins.
According to a survey conducted in late March, 75 percent of participants stated they are either providing patients a telehealth option or would like to deploy one soon. Keep in mind that this survey also highlighted the various risks to independent medical practices and patients during the COVID-19 health crisis. Did you know that 9 percent of healthcare providers in the country reported their medical practice had closed?
Also, many more stated they were very concerned about an imminent closure as patient visits had plummeted because of “stay at home” orders as well as other concerns. However, there is some good news as well. Providers can now conveniently bill for telehealth visits related to various services, like patient consultations or medical screening exams.
However, there is an ambiguity, which puts many healthcare practices in a rather awkward position. Although there are currently many incentives for practices to expand and grow telehealth services, it is also likely that insurance reimbursements for these services might return to pre-pandemic levels in the future.
Assistance for Small Healthcare Organizations during COVID-19 Crisis
You will be happy to know that there are many government programs that your practice can leverage in order to ease financial burdens while maintaining its current staff levels.
For example, tax relief, small business loans, and Medicare payment advances are only a few of the many options currently available. A combination of these programs will help ensure that both clinics and independent medical practices emerge from this pandemic with minimal damage to the long-term financial viability of their business.
More Patient-friendly Payment Plans
There is no doubt that the unexpected toll of the coronavirus has left many patients with hefty medical expenses. This has resulted from a combination of exorbitant hospital bills as well as unemployment factors linked to the pandemic.
Keep in mind that this has led many healthcare providers and clinics to work closely with local financial institutions, such as banks, in offering patients with low or zero-interest payment plans, which is excellent.
It is no secret that this important shift in billing has considerably eased the financial burden off of families impacted by COVID-19. It has also made timely and quality medical care more accessible during this tumultuous and challenging time.
You know that many aspects of the US healthcare industry have been impacted by COVID-19. This is why facilities have to be vigilant and proactive in preparing for many more billing changes down the road. This is where an unwavering commitment and dedication to adapting to new and improved practices will undoubtedly help medical organizations navigate various financial hardships while overcoming challenges and issues that lie ahead.
Prepare Your Medical Office for the Future with UControlBilling!
We all know that staying up to date with the latest trends in medical billing and medical coding is challenging and tricky even at the best of times. And it is even more challenging in the middle of an unprecedented health pandemic that has upended several longstanding and important trends in the healthcare industry.
If you outsource your medical billing to a reliable and experienced third-party provider like UControlBilling, you can concentrate on delivering exceptional medical care while they ensure that your medical claims are using the latest billing and coding practices. You can visit www.ucontrolbilling.com for more information.