Physical therapists and billing - how to manage when you’re always on the go

By Jamie Frew on Feb 29, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is physical therapy billing and how does it work?

Physical therapy billing refers to the process through which physical therapy businesses are paid for their services. Healthcare payments can be a lot more complicated than paying compared to other professional services, so having an in-depth understanding of how medical billing works will be highly beneficial for your business. Typically, therapy billing begins by submitting a claim to the patient or third-party payer following the service they received. After the insurance company has the bill, they will make a payment to your business, but this often won’t cover the entire amount that you billed. Unfortunately, the money that you haven’t been paid will likely remain unpaid, as it is usually not permitted to bill anyone for the remaining balance. Your business will also be paid a copayment by the patient, which is a fixed amount of money paying for the service they received. The copayment is usually paid at the time of appointment.

The process of submitting claims can be extremely complicated, and often errors in the coding or billing process will result in a long wait for your business until receiving reimbursement. Billing services and billing software are two ways that many healthcare businesses manage the stressful and time-consuming payment process. Billing services refer to a professional relationship between the therapist business and another business that handles their billing submissions and revenue. Billing software refers to platforms specifically designed to streamline the billing process and improve the organization and efficiency of administrative tasks. Implementing medical billing software for physical therapists will improve your billing process and save your business significant amounts of valuable time. 

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Medical billing services: Effectively managing billing services on the go

Effectively managing your billing process can be difficult for a busy physical therapy business. Your business might be filing upwards of 20 claims a day, and ensuring these have all been done correctly can be a massive task. Often, errors and cases of mismanagement occur, leading to a significant delay in receiving reimbursement. Some of the most avoidable of these errors are to do with incorrect formatting or missing information. The clearing house denial occurs within the first 24 hours of filing a claim and is caused by missing fields of information or incorrect formatting. Using physical therapy billing software can eliminate the frequency of these types of denials, as the platform can help you organize your claims accurately. Once your claims have been filed, it is highly recommended that you keep track of their process. Given the frequency of claims being rejected or denied, you need to ensure you are aware of what stage your claim is at, so you know whether you have to resubmit, or when your business can expect to be paid. Whilst it takes time to become familiar with the financial side of operating a physical therapy business, this is a necessary task if you want to be successful. 

Tips to optimize your practice's physical therapy billing process

As we’re sure you know, the billing process for physical therapists can be exhausting. Fortunately, there are strategies your business can employ to reduce the amount of time you spend on administrative tasks and ensure your billing process is as hassle-free as possible:

  1. Patient information: Collecting patient information prior to their first appointment is an easy and sure way to save time in the office. Set up a patient form online that accompanies the booking process so that when the patient arrives for their appointment, all of the relevant payment information is already in your system. 
  2. Dealing with rejected claims: Unfortunately, rejected claims occur quite frequently, and they lead to a significant delay in getting paid. Clearing house rejections come back to the sender with a message detailing the error within the claim, making it easy for staff to fix the mistake and resubmit the claim. If you habitually fix and resubmit cleaning house rejected claims on the day that you receive them, you will be reimbursed at a much faster rate.
  3. Billing dashboard: Setting up a billing dashboard allows you to track the progress of each of your claims and have a complete understanding of when you can expect to receive payment. One of the most important things to track on your billing dashboard is no response claims. If you are aware of claims that have had no response in 14 days, your staff can contact the insurance carriers regularly to ensure timely payment. Physical therapists that don’t track no response claims are risking losing significant amounts of money. Your billing dashboard should also track new patients, number of visits, check-ins, check-outs, and low authorizations.
  4. Reduce your lag time: Lag time (the time between the date of service and the first billed date) is one of the factors involved in the billing process that your practice has complete control over. Ideally, physical therapists should be submitting their claims on the same day of the appointment. Whilst submitting claims can be a time-consuming task, you should be incentivized by the payments you are facilitating.
  5. Encourage copays: If patients are paying their copayments at the time of their appointment, this eliminates half of the complicated billing process. Various methods can be used to encourage timely copayments, including setting up an online payment method via a patient portal. 
  6. Billing software: Utilizing medical billing software is one of the easiest and most secure methods of optimizing your physical therapy billing process. With healthcare software, you can maintain consistency and reduce the amount of time that is spent chasing up unpaid invoices and tracking the progress of claims.

Improving the Patient Experience for Physical Therapists

Patient experience plays a large role in generating revenue for your business. Not only do you want your patients to feel satisfied with the services they receive, but you also want them to feel as though their needs are understood. This is especially important in their face-to-face interactions with staff, including when they are checking in to the clinic and when they meet their physical therapist. Patient experience can also be elevated by making the appointment scheduling and payment processes as seamless and uncomplicated as possible. Using an online appointment scheduling system gives your patients more flexibility and eliminates the need to book an appointment over the phone. These features demonstrate how you can achieve better healthcare treatment with appointment scheduling software. Healthcare software often includes automated appointment and invoice reminders that are sent to patients, helping them keep track of their busy lives, and significantly reducing the number of late payments.

Take home message

Physical therapy billing is a complicated process that requires a lot of repetitive work. Using healthcare software can streamline the billing process for your business, minimizing the number of errors in your claims and reducing lag time. Carepatron is a healthcare platform perfect for physical therapy businesses that integrate medical billing and coding software with a variety of other telehealth features. With Carepatron, you can better keep track of the progress of your claims, which improves your organization and minimizes the number of rejected and denied claims. By choosing to implement medical billing software into your business, you are guaranteed to save a significant amount of time that can instead be spent doing what you do best: delivering quality physical therapy care to patients!

One app for any Physical Therapist: Try Carepatron for free today!

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