3 Reasons the Billing Office Can’t Bill Your EMS Incident

Blogger’s Note…

From time to time we pick out some of our most informative and memorable blog posts from the past and breathe new life into them. This is one of those posts. The information comes from a poll we conducted in our billing office and highlights the 3 top reasons our billers determine they cannot bill out an EMS incident without verifying the information.

The information remains timely and pertinent.

Read on!

Incomplete Documentation

Incomplete run sheet documentation is number one reason identified by all of our staff that keeps them from processing a trip for billing, initially.

The simple things we billers must convey to all of you in the field, is that incomplete documentation holds up way too many claims and, frankly, that frustrates us here in the billing office at times.

When the written narrative fails to paint a picture in words about the incident there’s little that the billing office can do to fix a poorly written patient care report. If there is inadequate medical necessity documentation which fails to describe the medical necessity and reasonableness for the trip, the run cannot be billed to an insurance source. The billing office can’t fill in the blanks.

No detail should be omitted when completing a PCR. Clear clinical documentation that is concise and complete must be written into every free-hand narrative that providers prepare. The billing office cannot assume or “read between the lines” to determine the medical necessity of the patient. The words have to be there in black and white and those words must include clinical findings with assessed values applied.

Non-Emergency PCR’s that miss the mark

Too many of us attempt to document non-emergency transports like they are emergencies. It just doesn’t work.

In our opinion, providers have a more difficult burden of proof when prepping PCRs to explain the medical necessity for patients who are receiving non-emergency or routine ambulance services. Plus the trip must be proven to be reasonable in nature.

We suspect that too many providers look to the Physicians Certification Statement (PCS or “the medical necessity form”) as a type of prescription that somehow takes them off the hook from writing a detailed PCR for the incident.

The PCS is not a “get out of jail free card.”

In fact, the documentation in the PCR trumps the PCS in all cases. Non-emergency documentation must be truthful and factual. Full assessments are required (the patient is in your care), relative values must be assessed and the PCR must present a full justification for why the patient in question was not able to be transported safely in any other vehicle other than an ambulance.

The PCR presents the case to the insurance payer and supports that payment should be made to your EMS agency for the ambulance transport. While many of these patients have long-term or chronic issues, the subject of the PCR must always focus on the present condition and medical necessity of the patient at the time of transport.

The documentation must include the patient’s condition before, during and following transport or upon delivery to the destination location. Narratives should include how the patient was found, how the patient was transferred and extricated from the origin location and finally the disposition of the patient at the destination point.

Incomplete PCS Documents

Touching again on the non-emergency side of the business, even though we don’t prepare the PCS at the ambulance level, we are responsible for insuring that the PCS is complete and can be used to support the claim.

The big tickets items that fail PCSs, thus torpedo billing revolves around two main areas…
  • Improper signatures -and-
  • Missing Information

A PCS that is signed by the wrong person or a PCS that is not signed correctly is useless. Someone must insure before the trip is sent to the billing office that the PCS has been signed by an appropriate and acceptable healthcare provider. We all know by now that doctors must sign a PCS for repetitive transports. Non-repetitive transports requiring a PCS must also be signed by appropriate persons with direct knowledge of the patient’s overall status.

Signatures must be legible and if they are not legible then the healthcare provider/signer’s name and credentials must be printed/typed on or near the signature. In addition, there must be a date that connects to the signature directly, denoting when the healthcare provider that signed the PCS actually signed the PCS.

The Ambulance Billing Services blog is brought to you as a service by Enhanced Management Services, Inc. Enhanced Management Services, Inc. is a full-service, all-EMS third-party billing contractor with Fire/EMS clients located across the United States. For more information about how Enhanced can benefit your EMS agency, please visit our website at www.enhancedms.com and click on the “Get Started” button on any landing page.

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