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How to transition to automated billing processes 

Get the actionable steps your healthcare practice can take to transition smoothly to automated billing.

automate healthcare billing

At a Glance

  • Transitioning to automated billing processes can save time, reduce costs, and improve both patient satisfaction and revenue by enhancing accuracy and efficiency.
  • Implementing integrated technology and offering convenient digital payment options are essential to streamlining billing and accelerating reimbursements.
  • Using robotic process automation (RPA) and electronic claims submission reduces manual errors and claim denials, allowing your practice to get paid faster and focus on more complex billing issues.

One of the main challenges for healthcare providers and their billing teams is getting ahead of medical billing issues. Transitioning to automated billing processes can save time, increase accuracy and efficiency, reduce costs, improve patient satisfaction, and generate more revenue. Making the leap to automated billing may feel overwhelming — but it doesn’t have to be. By taking it one step at a time, you can transform your business and get paid faster.

It’s important to follow the right steps to slowly transition from a manual system to a fully digital and automated one. Let’s explore how you can reap the benefits of automation at a pace that is manageable for your business.

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A step-by-step guide to transitioning to automated billing

We’ve got you covered in 5 steps. 

Step 1: Embrace integrated technology

Automation is only as effective as the technology behind it. That’s why the first step is to embrace an electronic health record (EHR) system that integrates with billing. An EHR that can simplify and streamline billing can increase your speed to revenue, improve claim accuracy, and produce faster patient payments.

Identifying the right tech for your needs involves outlining your goals. The end goal is to address your top-priority needs and optimize operations. To do this, consider your top billing frustrations. 

Not sure what yours are? Use our practice efficiency grader to find out. 

Here are some common challenges:

  • Your current software causes more problems than it solves.
  • Your claims management process lacks efficiency, or data falls through the cracks.
  • You run into problems accepting payments or integrating payment data with your billing software.
  • Your billing software doesn’t automatically track payments.

Ask yourself what you want to achieve by solving your billing dilemmas. For example, do you want to reduce manual effort for your billing staff? What about improving claim accuracy? Or both?

Next, think about the tasks and technologies that relate to those goals.

Prioritize solutions that will make a measurable impact while relieving your billing headaches. ”

You might identify that you need technology that allows you to automate repetitive tasks. Prioritize solutions that will make a measurable impact while relieving your billing headaches. With the right platform, you'll be able to:

  • Eliminate the redundant data entry necessary with third-party billing solutions.
  • Automatically track when statements are sent with no payment collected.
  • Save valuable time by automating patient billing text, email, and mailed statements.
  • Increase collections by easily submitting batch eligibility to reduce claim denials.
  • Get paid faster by sending electronic claims to more than 8,000 government payers and commercial insurance companies.

Visit Tebra's billing and payments resource to see what your journey to automated billing could look like.

Step 2: Streamline payments

To streamline payments, make it easy for patients to pay. According to a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimate, unpaid medical bills total $88 billion. Any hurdles in patients’ path to payment lead to delays — and cash flow issues.

The process begins at the appointment. Train your team to:

  • Communicate effectively by asking patients about payment with courtesy and clarity, using phrases like, “How would you like to pay today?”
  • Understand the basics such as interpreting insurance cards, eligibility checks, and benefits. Using terminology such as “your insurance requires you to make the copayment” and “your insurance plan transferred the balance to you” is a proactive approach.
  • Have difficult conversations. You can also establish a financial hardship policy. These efforts can lead to loyal patients who ultimately pay their bill.
  • Discuss costs and options with your patients and bring them into the decision-making process. Something like prescribing a 90-day supply of medicine can reduce out-of-pocket costs. Or, schedule expensive tests later in the year when patients are more likely to have met annual deductibles.
Your patients should never have to figure out how to pay you. ”

Next, review the digital payment experience. Patients want the convenience of industries like retail. Your patients should never have to figure out how to pay you, so offer online portal access with user-friendly, secure payments. 

A recent Tebra survey found that 72% of patients would be more likely to pay a bill immediately if they received a link to payment options via text and email. This mimics the ease of online shopping.

Add QR codes to paper statements. Patients can scan the codes and pay using their mobile devices. This bridges the gap between manual and digital transactions.

Proactive approaches facilitate conversations and shorten billing cycles. This allows for better financial planning and improves operational efficiency. Find out more in the ultimate guide to practice automation

Step 3: Automate patient billing

So, your tech is in place to simplify and streamline the billing process. You’ve made it easier for patients to pay. The next step is to use automated statements for faster collections.

Many healthcare providers and their billing teams are turning to robotic process automation (RPA) to help decrease the time and effort spent on repetitive billing tasks. RPA uses bots — customized software scripts that replace the more tedious aspects of medical billing — to process payments more effectively. It’s a simple, low-maintenance, and affordable solution that can benefit practices of any size.

RPA also uses Health Level Seven (HL7) — a set of international standards for sharing and exchanging electronic health information. This means that medical billing companies, providers, and insurance companies can seamlessly exchange patient data. This helps with manual data entry and improves accuracy while maintaining your preferred EHR. 

Once set up, RPA bots take charge of the most error-prone parts of billing. Bots perform tasks exactly the same way every time. Eliminating all those errors that arise from human fatigue, lack of concentration, or simple mistakes significantly reduce claim denials and related costs, too.

Increasing efficiency and reducing manual tasks using automation allows billing teams more time to follow up on more complex rejections and denials that require more time and attention — reducing rejections and denials and increasing clean claims.

Step 4: Accelerate reimbursements

To reduce claim denials and process ERAs automatically, let’s now turn to how to accelerate reimbursements. Submitting clean claims on time is an essential element of revenue cycle management. The more accurate the claims your practice submits, the faster you’ll get paid.

Many critical elements go into the timely filing of a clean claim — correct medical coding, accurate demographic information, prior authorization, to name just a few. Inaccuracy gives insurers many opportunities to deny or reject claims. 

Electronic claims submission improves accuracy, boosts processing speed, and tracks real-time status. This enables your practices to transmit claims instantly and proactively check in on them. Send primary and secondary electronic claims directly to clearinghouses after entering charges and checking claims against payer reimbursement rules. 

Built-in charge scrubbing flags common errors, like with billing codes or demographic information. This smart tech helps you to submit clean claims and get paid faster. 

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Step 5: Get ahead of manual errors

The last step in automating your practice’s billing processes is to verify insurance eligibility and flag potential claim errors. 

By far, the most common rejections in most practices are due to eligibility. It makes the most sense to focus on improving eligibility verification first, as it will reduce not only true eligibility rejections, but will also likely identify data entry issues as well because errors in patient name and policy numbers can often be identified during eligibility verification.

Moving away from manual, paper forms to digital entry gives patients time and space to enter their details, while allowing your practice staff to work smarter and minimize the tedious tasks of re-entering their information.

Electronically capture patient information before the visit with HIPAA compliant forms, including demographics, insurance, medical history, digital consent, and signatures. Practices can also capture patients’ driver’s license, insurance cards and other important documents, which can all be uploaded in advance. 

Set up a recurring time to check-in on insurance verification procedures and the proper use of software tools. It’s helpful to establish a quality control process where a designated staff member periodically reviews a sample of verifications to ensure accuracy. 

Actionable steps for automated billing

Through this step-by-step guide, you now know the actionable steps your healthcare practice can take to transition smoothly to automated billing systems.

Here’s a quick recap of the key points we covered:

  • Step 1: Embrace technology such as your EHR to seamlessly integrate with your billing system.
  • Step 2: Streamline payments by offering convenient, digital first payment options that automatically sync with your billing portal.
  • Step 3: Automate patient billing with text, email, and mailed statements on a frequent, automated cadence to drive faster patient collections. Use RPA bots to take charge of the most error-prone parts of billing.
  • Step 4: Accelerate reimbursements, reduce costly claim denials, and automatically process electronic remittance advices (ERAs) with electronic claims submissions.
  • Step 5: Get ahead of manual errors to verify insurance eligibility and flag potential claim errors.

Visit Tebra's billing and payments resource to start transitioning to automated billing today.

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Becky Whittaker, specialist SEO copywriter

Becky Whittaker is a specialist SEO copywriter with over a decade of experience and an interest in healthcare and legal marketing. Becky believes that independent practices are critical because they have more opportunities to deliver better patient care and personalize patients’ experiences. She also has a personal connection to the healthcare industry, as her sister-in-law is a pediatrician.

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