Patient data safety was one of the key inhibitors of accelerated adoption of technology in the healthcare sector. However, the dreaded Covid 19 pandemic in 2020 has created unique situations that demanded a faster adoption of technologies. These technologies were mainly aimed to keep the medical services available to people while adhering to the social distancing norms. This technology adoption necessitated new coding guidelines that in turn, created ripples in the normal operations standards for medical billing companies. It is expected that in the year 2021 medical billing companies will go the whole hog to adapt to these changes which will emerge as the key medical billing trends in 2021.
Automated medical billing– Medical billing companies are expected to leverage cloud-based software to automate tasks such as bill generation, insurance management, and other critical tasks. The AI-enabled software significantly reduces instances of errors in medical claims which expedites reimbursements for hospitals. Automation in medical billing processes frees the front office department of a healthcare organization who can dedicate more time to patient engagement and responsibility. These cloud-based medical billing systems can be accessed from anywhere which is relevant in the current pandemic-induced situations.
Adoption of blockchain technology– Also known as the digital ledger technology, medical billing companies will utilize blockchain in managing and protecting patient data that include electronic medical record data management and protection, managing personal health record data, and point-of-care genomics management. This technology is the key to bring more efficiency in billing, claims, and payment collection systems. Blockchain technology minimizes paper-based communications and manual processes. This reduces the chances of payment reconciliations and duplicate postings.
Familiarity with ICD-11 codebook– Medical billing companies are expected to start familiarizing themselves with the new ICD 11 codebook that is scheduled to be effective on January 1, 2022. This will come with new sets of 55,000 diagnostic codes applicable for a range of injuries, ailments, and mortalities. This will bring certain changes in the code implementation in clinical documentation. The new ICD-11 codebook will be based on a new content model that will have 13 parameters to avoid duplication or confusion regarding medical codes in billing.
Adoption of telehealth– Telehealth service has proved its relevance in ensuring the continuity of medical services while adhering to the pandemic-induced social distancing norms. Medical billing companies are adapting to the newly released coding guidelines released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to accommodate the medical billing of telehealth services. They are expected to update their legacy tool suites to bill telehealth services with more efficiency and in a cost-effective way.
Accommodating real-time payments– Presently, it takes about 30 days for hospitals to get reimbursed for a medical service. Slow claims filing also results in potential denials. These challenges make it difficult for medical billing companies to predict the revenue growth for a healthcare organization. In 2021, medical billing companies are expected to leverage billing technologies that will be powered with massive volumes of data and smart algorithms. These technologies will ease the process of medical billing and enable payments in real-time.
The critical situations created by the pandemic last year have undoubtedly exposed medical billing operations to multiple complexities. However, it had also unlocked opportunities for medical billing companies to overhaul their existing mode of operation that will make them more resilient in the face of any future emergency conditions. The year 2021 will be marked by the journey of medical billing companies towards adapting and staying on top of the emerging medical billing trends.