Blog, Revenue Cycle, Revenue Integrity

Strategies to Reduce Clinical and Technical Denials for Improved Payer Reimbursement

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In the complex world of healthcare reimbursement, clinical and technical denials present significant challenges for healthcare providers. These denials occur when insurance payers refuse to reimburse claims due to errors or discrepancies, often leading to revenue loss and increased administrative burdens.

However, with proactive strategies and effective workflows, providers can mitigate denials and improve payer reimbursement. Review these key approaches to reduce clinical and technical denials.

  1. Enhance Documentation Practices: Accurate and comprehensive documentation is crucial for preventing clinical denials. Providers should ensure that medical records contain all necessary information, including patient demographics, detailed encounter notes, diagnosis codes, and procedure codes. Implementing electronic health record (EHR) systems with built-in prompts and templates can streamline documentation processes and reduce errors.
  2. Stay Current with Coding Guidelines: Inaccurate coding is a common cause of both clinical and technical denials. Medical coders and billers must stay updated with the latest coding guidelines and regulations issued by organizations such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Regular training and educational programs and coding audits can help identify and correct coding errors before claims are submitted.
  3. Utilize Advanced Technology: Leveraging technology solutions such as predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) can enhance claims management processes and reduce denials. These tools can analyze historical claims data to identify patterns and trends, flagging potential denials before they occur. Additionally, AI-powered coding assistance tools can help coders select the most appropriate codes, minimizing errors and denials.
  4. Implement Pre-Authorization Processes: Pre-authorization requirements vary among payers and healthcare services. Implementing robust pre-authorization processes can help ensure that services are medically necessary and covered by the patient’s insurance plan before they are provided. By obtaining pre-authorization in advance, providers can reduce the likelihood of denials related to lack of pre-authorization.
  5. Streamline Revenue Cycle Management (RCM): Efficient revenue cycle management is essential for minimizing denials and optimizing reimbursement. Providers should implement streamlined RCM workflows that encompass patient registration, coding, billing, and collections. Automating repetitive tasks, such as eligibility verification and claims submission, can improve efficiency and reduce the risk of errors that lead to denials.
  6. Monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Monitoring KPIs related to denials can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of denial reduction efforts. Key metrics to track include denial rate, denial reasons, days in accounts receivable (A/R), and clean claim rate. Regularly reviewing these metrics allows providers to identify trends, pinpoint areas for improvement, and implement targeted interventions. Key Performance Indicators monitoring is a proactive approach in preventing denials. This can be achieved by constantly working and assessing your Unbilled/Discharge Not Final Billed (DNFB), Billing scrubber edits, and Returned to Provider (RTP) Medicare suspense daily. The information obtained by reviewing these reports daily can provide system, departmental, and charge issues that could be resolved on the front end to achieve a higher clean claim rate.
  7. Enhance Communication with Payers: Establishing open lines of communication with payers can facilitate the resolution of denials and prevent future issues. Providers should proactively engage with payers to clarify coverage policies, address claim discrepancies, and resolve disputes in a timely manner. Building strong relationships with payer representatives can streamline the denial management process and improve reimbursement outcomes. Ongoing contract review and staff updates on applicable contractual elements, changes, and covered versus non-covered services, authorization and referral requirements are also critical components of controlling future write offs.
  8. Invest in Staff Training and Education: Educating staff members about denial prevention strategies and best practices is essential for success. Providers should offer regular training sessions on topics such as documentation requirements, coding guidelines, and claims submission processes. By empowering staff with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the reimbursement process effectively, providers can reduce denials and optimize revenue. Inter departmental collaboration as well as aligning Case Management processes with Revenue Cycle is becoming more the trend because of Case Management’s role as patient advocacy and resource liaison between patient, payor, and provider team.  Educating all team members on the collaboration will help reduce denials.

Reducing clinical and technical denials is crucial for optimizing payer reimbursement and ensuring financial sustainability for healthcare providers. By implementing proactive strategies such as enhancing documentation practices, staying current with coding guidelines, leveraging advanced technology, and streamlining revenue cycle management processes, healthcare providers can mitigate denials and improve reimbursement outcomes.

Additionally, fostering collaboration with payers and investing in staff training and education are essential components of a comprehensive denial reduction strategy. By adopting these approaches, healthcare organizations can enhance operational efficiency, minimize revenue leakage, and ultimately improve patient care delivery.

Contact BESLER to partner on reducing your hospital’s denials to improve payer reimbursement.

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