Every practice likes to get paid, but sometimes the process is not as simple as sending the proper codes off to an insurance provider and waiting for a check to roll in (in fact, even this process is rarely easy to begin with). For some procedures, the patient’s insurance company will require you to contact them and request prior authorization before the service takes place. In these cases, the payer must agree to cover the procedure beforehand; if they don’t, and the physician continues with the services anyway, then all costs will be the responsibility of the practice.

Unfortunately, requesting prior authorization often presents a serious obstacle to the flow of a healthy revenue cycle. According to a survey from the American Medical Association (AMA), the average practice spends roughly 14.6 hours per week trying to work their way through all the necessary prior approval documentation. As if spending nearly two full business days per week on this paperwork wasn’t enough, a separate AMA investigation found that issues related to prior authorization contributed to a whopping 92% of delays in patient care. Unsurprisingly, this can often lead to a projected course of treatment being abandoned altogether.

Regardless of the specialty of your practice or facility, there is a high chance that you stand to benefit from streamlining your prior authorization process. If you haven’t already, check to see which insurance companies have online portals where you can submit, as this is often the preferred method of communication. It may also be worth asking employees from other workplaces how they handle this process, as they may have found a tip or shortcut that can benefit you. Finally, one of the biggest ways you can improve the process is to get started as soon as possible. Reviewing this information takes time, so it is always better to submit requests earlier rather than later.