In many optometry offices, doctors and staff members are multitasking with high priorities, patient care, staffing issues, and revenue cycle management (RCM). Drs. Julie and Jay Honda recognized how a more efficient optometry billing process could positively impact their practice, their staff, and their bottom line. They felt an extension of their office staff would help manage the claims filing process.
After weighing the cost and benefits, Dr. Julie Honda searched for an RCM service provider who specialized and excelled in optometry medical billing. What she found was a partner to work by her side to overcome their challenges and keep the positive momentum going in their practice.
What revenue cycle management challenges did you and your staff experience before you started with Fast Pay Health?
- Daily billing and posting would often fall behind when someone was absent or had higher priorities.
- Verification was an ongoing task that took around five to six hours per week, which was difficult to do between patients.
- Late scheduling changes meant someone had to verify insurance again.
- In situations where something slipped through the cracks—like an authorization or PCP verification—sometimes the claim wouldn’t get paid. When you’re having to verify insurance for last minute scheduling changes, time management can get the best of you.
How has Fast Pay Health helped you and your staff overcome RCM challenges?
Having a dedicated optometry billing team is like a little machine happily humming along in the background—completing 85% of the billing, posting, and eligibility and benefits verification tasks. We leave for the day and when we come back into the office the next morning, the work is done.
We used to have a full-time billing person that we were extremely dependent on. The amount I had to pay this staff member, including benefits, cost more than a billing service. Now Fast Pay Health fills that role. This has alleviated a huge amount of stress, because we used to invest so much time in training new employees if the billing person was absent or moved on.
If a part of the billing cycle isn’t operating smoothly—or in a timely fashion—it affects everything else. Before you know it, primary claims can’t be filed because you fell behind in checking the patient’s insurance or eligibility. Secondary claims and billing are delayed as well.
It’s imperative that you get paid for your work, especially when your practice has high volume with high overhead. Streamlining the billing process and making it as efficient as possible is critical to that success.
Now that our staff isn’t buried under the constant demands of insurance verification and filing claims, they can spend the extra time making sure our patients feel welcome and appreciated. They also have more time to immediately answer questions and address any concerns a patient may have.
How has Fast Pay Health reduced accounts receivable at your optometry practice?
Doing the kind of volume our practice does makes it difficult to find one optometry billing person to handle everything. I no longer worry about staff being absent when we need to bill insurance companies, post payments or run reports.
Eligibility verification helps us estimate the copayment beforehand, so we collect the patient’s copayment and reduce billing issues from the start.
Fast Pay Health is skilled in identifying and correcting problems and putting systems in place to prevent future errors. They make all necessary billing corrections on claims that are not accepted by the clearinghouse before submitting the claims, absorbing yet another task we previously had to address.
Billing rejections and denials are still reviewed by me or one of my senior staff members. But the huge time demand has been drastically reduced with Fast Pay Health filing claims, posting payments, and following up on unpaid claims.
The percentage of outstanding claims over 120 days has been reduced from 5% to 3%, and 94% of our AR aging bucket is either current or outstanding 31-60 days. Now it is much easier to follow up on older claims because there are fewer to deal with—and we continue to sustain this low level.
What is your favorite Fast Pay Health optometry billing service and why?
I like the aging claims service the most—though posting and verification are also a huge help. The fact is that 10% of messy claims can take up 90% of your time. With denied and rejected claims, Fast Pay Health handles these time-consuming phone calls to insurance companies so our staff doesn’t have to worry about them.
Before, our staff members used to wait until we had a half day without patient appointments scheduled just to make time for tending to aging claims. Since we are located in Hawaii, the time slot our staff had available often did not coincide with insurance companies in other time zones, leaving little time to resolve unpaid claims.
If for some reason the primary claim was not paid—and we had to wait to resolve that claim before filing the secondary claim—it would take even longer to complete the claims filing process. This greatly increased the billing cycle for us and made it less likely for the claim to be paid at all.
Our Fast Pay Health team understands the field of optometry and the nuances of optometry medical claims. Plus, they have extensive experience with Medicare and secondary insurances specific to optometry, and regularly make suggestions for corrections.
How does Fast Pay Health reduce time spent managing benefits and eligibility verification?
We coordinate patient eligibility verification when our Demandforce appointment reminders go out to the patients seven days prior. Patient data is easily accessible in our MaximEyes optometry practice management software since it integrates with Demandforce. Fast Pay Health verifies insurances six days in advance—this way we are not verifying patients who cancel appointments.
Each day Fast Pay Health checks for stragglers that ended up on the schedule after they already finished that day’s verification. They locate last-minute appointments and verify the add-ons. Our staff members are only left with verifying one or two patients. For example, someone who scheduled the same day or a patient whose insurance hasn’t been updated in the system yet.
To support our collaborative process with Fast Pay Heath, we set up a color-coding system to signal verification and whether the copayment estimation has been calculated. Each staff member knows exactly what needs to be done on a daily basis and whether we need to get information from the patient prior to or at the time of the visit.
You’ve been using Fast Pay Health for a few years now. Any advice to eye care professionals?
There are so many advantages to outsourcing optometry medical billing. Partnering with Fast Pay Health is one of the better decisions we have made in managing our practice. Their team is a welcome extension of our office staff. They are well-trained, willing to learn, have positive attitudes, and have a fierce work ethic.
I see Fast Pay Health as an investment, rather than an expense. Considering what it takes to get AR under control and sustaining it at a low level consistently, using an optometry billing service like Fast Pay Health has saved us time and money.
Our practice has greatly benefited from partnering with Fast Pay Health, both financially and mentally. No longer is our staff unnecessarily stressed or pulled in so many directions on a daily basis, which affects our bottom line and our ability to provide the best patient care. Working with Fast Pay Health has been a very positive experience and we only wish we had tried their services earlier.
About Julie Honda, OD: Dr. Honda is the co-owner of a private optometry practice with Jay K. Honda, OD in Kailua-Kona, HI. Her greatest joy is building lasting relationships within her Big Island community—treating each patient like family.