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The Affordable Care Act Won't Be Changing Soon:
How to Improve Practice Revenue

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has stirred up a bit of controversy in the medical field since being passed in 2010, with many physicians complaining that the regulations are too stringent and favor larger organizations over smaller private practices. A few years ago, many healthcare professionals were looking forward to the possibility of the law being repealed, but since that hasn't yet happened, it appears the ACA won't be going away any time soon. With that said, here are four tips that can help healthcare providers increase practice revenue in a post-ACA environment:

1. Pay Closer Attention to the EHR and Medical Billing Systems
The accuracy and efficacy of the entire revenue cycle will depend on how proficiently the practice utilizes the Electronic Health Record (EHR) system and their chosen medical billing and coding systems. For this reason, it's imperative to conduct a thorough comparison to select the best EHR software. Providers should look for solutions that include sufficient training and ongoing support. Since these systems are the primary interfaces used to manage claims, reimbursements, and other aspects of the revenue cycle, starting with this aspect of the challenge is the best way to build a strong foundation from the ground up.

2. Focus on Patient Education and Offer Payment Plans
Oftentimes patients will be more receptive to making out-of-the-pocket payments if they understand how the billing cycle works and are more aware of their payment options. Likewise, self-pay patients are usually more inclined to make payments when a reasonable payment plan is in place, especially when compared to the alternative of having to make the entire payment in a lump sum.

3. Market Services to Low-Income and Medicaid Eligible Groups
One of the bright sides of the ACA is that it opened up a range of services to low income patients and Medicaid-eligible groups who previously would have gone without treatment. Thus, there's an opportunity for practices to market the availability of services to those groups in an effort to leverage and capitalize on what appears to be the biggest advantage of the ACA in terms of physician revenue. There have been many practices that have attracted a significant amount of new patients by marketing services to the groups that benefited most from the ACA.

4. Partnering with Larger Organizations
Even before the ACA started having an impact on physician income there were many hospitals buying up and affiliating with private practices. The smaller providers who haven't yet teamed up with larger entities have found themselves being made relatively obsolete due to a lack of referrals when compared to their nearest competitors who have associated themselves with local hospitals and clinics.

Understanding the Revenue Cycle
Many conventional physicians have struggled to adapt to the new regulations and electronic systems that have become practically mandatory in the modern healthcare practice. The revenue cycle itself is complicated enough to justify the existence of entirely separate fields of study in medical coding, billing, documentation, and compliance. As such, many providers have enlisted the services of compliance specialists and coding auditors to ensure that their practice has a firm grasp on the procedures involved in maintaining an effective and lucrative revenue cycle.

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