Denial Management: Key Insights for Medical Billing Professionals

In healthcare revenue cycles, denial management plays a pivotal role in the financial stability and operational efficiency of medical practices. But what exactly does denial management in healthcare entail and how can it be managed for the best outcomes? In this blog, we’ll discuss the key insights needed to fully understand the concept, so that you can feel confident tackling denials head-on by implementing time-tested strategies. 

 

What is denial management in the revenue cycle? 

Effective denial management in medical billing involves the systematic identification of denied claims, understanding the reasonings, and taking appropriate actions to resolve and prevent future denials. 

ProPublica data has revealed that claim denial rates in the healthcare industry typically range from 10% to 20%. While these numbers are based on limited government data, they bring to light a significant issue that healthcare providers often face.  

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Types of Denied Claims 

A denied claim occurs anytime a payer, such as an insurance company or government program, refuses to reimburse a healthcare provider for the services they have rendered to a patient. Several factors can lead to a claim being rejected, with some of the most frequently encountered problems outlined below. 

 

Common reasons: 
  • Mandatory information: Missing or wrong patient details such name, birthdate, and so on. 
  • Prior authorization: The necessary approval was not obtained prior to the service given, or the authorization lapsed before the date of service. 
  • Eligibility: Services are not included in the patient’s insurance coverage. This could also be due to the lack of medical necessity or the expiration/inactivity of the coverage. 
  • Billing and coding: ICPT 10 and CPT codes are input incorrectly and submitted with the claim, causing the service rendered to be inaccurately represented. 

 

Denial categories: 
  • Soft denial: A temporary rejection of a claim that is usually easily correctable. These refusals can often be resolved by supplying more details or rectifying the claim. These don’t always result in a financial loss, provided the necessary measures are implemented promptly to address the issue. 
  • Hard denial: A definitive dismissal of a claim that is not easily correctable or reversible. Hard denials typically suggest that the claim will never be compensated, resulting in a permanent revenue loss for the medical practice. 

Best Practices for Moving Through the Denial Management Process Effectively 

1. Identify bottlenecks

By analyzing the most common denials that occur in a practice, you can pinpoint where the workflow is being hindered and take steps to address the root cause. This may involve conducting a thorough audit of the entire process to identify areas of inefficiency or miscommunication.  

2. Prioritize based on importance

Upon identifying the reason for the denial, prioritize them based on factors such as financial impact, frequency, and root cause. High-dollar claims or those with a significant impact on revenue should be addressed promptly to recover or minimize losses as much as possible.  

3. Standardize processes for record keeping

Maintaining thorough documentation of all interactions may include keeping detailed records of claim submissions, denials, appeals, and any correspondence with the payer. It can also help in the appeals process by providing a clear record of the original claim submission and any supporting documentation. This can help strengthen the appeal and increase the chances of a successful outcome. 

4. Keep track of deadlines

To ensure that all denial amendment deadlines are met with prompt action, it is recommended to set consistent reminders. It’s important to note that insurance companies are required to adhere to deadlines when processing claims and appeals themselves. Failure on their part to do so could result in penalties or sanctions being imposed. Hence, it’s mutually beneficial for both parties to ensure all deadlines are observed and communication is transparent. 

5. Train and educate staff

It’s essential to train and educate staff on the topic of denial management to ensure they have the necessary knowledge and skills to handle denials effectively. This includes understanding coding guidelines, payer requirements, and documentation standards to minimize the risk of denials. Facilitating continuous learning can assist staff with staying up-to-date on industry standards, ultimately leading to a stronger medical billing team. 

6. Outsource overwhelming tasks

This extra assistance provides access to well-versed teams resulting in quicker resolution times and heightened revenue recovery. When working with a cost-efficient company, outsourcing denial management tasks enables practices to focus on delivering quality patient care while keeping costs to a minimum. 

7. Monitor performance

Continue to assess the efficiency of the implemented changes by observing denial rates and other crucial key performance metrics (KPIs). Regular analysis will enable you to identify issues before they arise or while they are still only causing minor disturbances. 

Benchmark Solutions Can Be Your Helping Hand in Healthcare Denial Management 

Benchmark Solutions provides Benchmark PM software and Benchmark RCM services to optimize your denial management process. With our experienced team and proven methodologies, we can help you identify root causes of denials, implement effective systems, and improve your overall revenue cycle performance. Let us assist with maximizing your revenue potential and enhancing your practice’s cashflow. 

98% first-pass clean claims rate

50% reduction in A/R

20% revenue increase in the first year

30% improved collections

Let us assist with maximizing your revenue potential and enhancing your practice’s cashflow. 

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