How Financially Healthy is Your Behavioral Health Practice?

Let’s face it: numbers are everywhere. They’re on our bathroom scales, maybe telling us to skip dessert. They’re on our clocks telling us to get going. They’re on the doctor’s report.

Numbers provide us with important information; they tell a story, what I like to call the “numbers story”. But what good are the numbers if you’re not reviewing and interpreting them?

There are many aspects to operating a Behavioral Health practice in a financially healthy manner. Revenue and expenses are fundamental in any business, of course. But in your line of work, if some or all of your income is a result of third-party medical billing submitted on behalf of your patients, particular attention is needed there first. This is where the story of your numbers begins.

Your insurance reimbursements can arrive at any time throughout the month, depending on how often your billing is done. And whether those reimbursements arrive electronically or via snail mail, as long as you are receiving some insurance payments it’s quite easy to be lulled into a false sense of security and assume that all of your claims were processed and paid. However, that is often not the case.

As you know, insurance payments can be denied for a variety of reasons, and the resulting financial deficit to your practice can easily be masked by the monies you are receiving. Unless your patients’ accounts are routinely being monitored, would you know if some of your insurance reimbursements are falling through the cracks?

Whether your medical billing is done in-house or off-site, and regardless of who is doing it, here are a few pertinent issues to consider:

➤ Do you have a system in place for following up on all that could go wrong after claims are submitted to insurance?

➤ Are EOBs being reviewed thoroughly to determine the results of the claim submission?

➤ If payment from insurance is denied, who is responsible for following-up?

➤ Does your practice collect deductibles?

➤ Does your practice collect co-pays/co-insurances?

➤ Based on the frequency of your billing, do you receive payments from your patients’ insurance companies at regular intervals so your cash flow is able to keep up with paying your bills and other expenses?

You devote a lot of hours to seeing clients and discussing their experiences and emotions; this is essential to improving their mental health. Remember to spend time reviewing the numbers of your practice, on a regular basis, to maintain — and quite possibly improve — the financial health of your practice.

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