I have a secret: I don't use the aging report spit out by most Patient Accounting software. It's true. Oh, I produce one for the monthly management report packet delivered to my clients, to be sure. But I rarely look at it myself, and when I do, it's only a double-check. A sort of balancing tool.
Let's examine a typical insurance aging report. Of course, all are different and almost all are customizable to a degree, but at a bare minimum, your report will include total charges owed by third-party payers, in columns representing age spans of claims, typically in 30-day increments. These charge totals can be sorted by payer, patient, or both.
Now let's examine what we can learn from this report. Study it carefully. What do you think it tells us?
In my opinion, we can glean from these reports the following:
- Some people owe some money.
- Apparently some claims have not been resolved yet.
And that's the limit of the usefullness of an aging report. Combined with other top-level reports, some information for managment can be elicited from the report, but for the biller/collector, this information is useless. Clearly the biller is going to have to dig into their arsenal of other reports - or devise their own tools - to actually track individual claims. The aging report alone will not give the essential information the efficient biller needs - has there been a response from the payer; was the response a rejection, denial, or short-pay; has a resolution been attempted yet; has there been enough time elapsed since the last action?
Many software packages include reports or tools that give some or all this information - the most useful, but for some reason scarcest, are follow-up queues. It seems lke only the top of the top-level packages include follow-up queues that track exact reason why the claim has not been paid, steps taken to date to resolve the claim, and a queue date to alert the biller that the expected time to resolve the last issue has expired therefore status needs to be investigated again.
Since most software does not include this essential portion of claims collection, the wise biller will devise their own tool. Downloading reports into Excel and then manipulating and enhancing data to produce a list sortable by date would be a very good makeshift follow-up queue:
Even low-tech devices such as a desk calendar or an accordian date file (what us old-timers used to call "ticklers") work for a low-volume office. Because all software is different, therefore all tool designs will be different, we would not be able to disuss preferred methods on a general basis, but we are certainly available to consult with any provider or biller about coming up with a plan to devise a tool to allow the billing office to capture aging data in a much more useful manner than an aging report. Contact us today!