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Medical practice billing errors and how to avoid them

November 11, 2010

Billing mistakes can be costly to more than just the budgetary bottom line for a medical manager – they can also affect the practice as a whole.

According to Reed Tinsley, a certified public accounting firm committed to helping the healthcare industry, billing errors can frustrate patients and strain relationships with insurance providers, on top of costing the practice money.

Three of the most common billing mistakes, according to the CPA firm, are simple data entry errors, incorrect coding and duplicate billing.

Data entry mistakes, although the most difficult to catch, can often be fixed by making sure staff is proficient with office equipment and medical management software, says Reed Tinsley.

Incorrect coding can be rectified by making sure employees are constantly continuing their education. In an interview with the Medical Group Management Association, Margie Vaught, a licensed instructor for the American Academy of Professional Coders, cited the three most common coding errors to watch out for: forgetting bilaterals, x-rays and supplies.

“With the rapid changes that occur in medicine, medical billing becomes increasingly complex as services are added and removed,” advises the firm.

Billing applications used by medical practices are becoming increasingly more advanced, but duplicate billing can still occur. Sometimes, according to Reed Tinsley, a duplication can happen if one service is keyed or coded two different ways, which produces two bills for the same service. Installing an internal audit process at a practice can help catch these errors.

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