Medical billing is a very technical process. And if not done right, it can lead to financial losses and potential claim denials for your practice. To prevent this, you have to ensure that each claim you file has a corresponding DCN.
But what is a DCN and how you can get one? In this post, we will walk you through the process of DCN generation and the best practices for seamless claims processing.
What is a DCN Number?
DCN stands for Document Control Number, which is assigned to every medical claim you submit to payors. Imagine it as a digital fingerprint for each claim, which helps you, the payors, and clearing houses to identify one from the other.
Technically speaking, DCNs are alphanumeric codes, which can be generated through different means. It can be sourced from electronic billing systems, insurance companies, or clearinghouses (more on this below).
Importance of DCN in Billing
As with any coding or numbering system in medical billing, DCNs are very important for many reasons. Here’s why you should ensure that your claims each have one:
1. Claim Tracking
The main purpose of DCNs on your claims is to track each throughout the billing cycle. This way, you can monitor its status and see right away if there are potential issues. It allows you to take proper action in case one claim needs attention.
Above all, DCNs prevent the risk of having your claims lost or delayed during billing. And instead of sifting through piles of paperwork, you can easily identify each claim through their assigned DCN.
2. Avoiding Duplicate Claims
If you have a large practice that files hundreds – or even thousands – of claims on a regular basis, it’s easy to make mistakes like duplication. But with an assigned DCN, you can prevent this issue. In turn, you can also avoid the risk of having the claim denied or delayed for payment.
3. Streamlining Reimbursement
Most insurance companies and other payors rely on DCNs to cross-check payments with any specific claim. With proper DCNs, your claims will receive immediate and correct payments. Also, document control numbers help medical factoring companies track your claims in case you opt for this method of funding.
4. Creating an Audit Trail
Aside from payment processing DCNs also provide an audit trail for each of your claims. In case of any inquiries or audits from authorities, your practice can provide accurate and detailed information. You simply have to enter the DCN into your system to pull out all the information you need. Overall, DCNs help with compliance while preventing any possible disputes.
5. Patient Satisfaction
Aside from helping you with claims processing, DCNs can also indirectly benefit your patients. It’s because a well-implemented DCN will make your entire staff more efficient, thus freeing up more time on clinical tasks.
How to Obtain a DCN Number
DCNs can be generated for each of your claims in different ways. The following are the most common options among medical billing companies:
Electronic Health Record (EHR) Systems. EHR systems usually come with a built-in feature that automatically generates a DCN every time you create a claim. This way, you don’t have to manually assign a DCN, preventing the risk of errors or duplicates.
Clearinghouses. Clearinghouses act like the middleman between practices like yours and payors. They can also generate DCNs when processing your claims. It guarantees the accuracy of your claims and it also saves your staff from the hassle of tracking down document control numbers.
Insurance Companies. Insurance companies can also assign their own DCNs to your claims if you submit them directly. However, you should check with your partner insurance companies first to know if they provide DCNs or if you have to do it in-house.
Best Practices for DCN in Medical Billing
It’s very important that every DCN assigned to your claim is accurate and in line with the best practices in the health industry. To help you out, here are some tips that you and your staff can use:
1. Be consistent with formatting
You must establish a standard format for all the DCNs you’ll use in your practice. This way, you’ll avoid confusion when using multiple formats. Overall, you should include information like date of service, provider identifier, and patient identifier on your document control number.
2. Use unique identifiers
Take note that thousands – or even millions – of claims are filed to every payor daily. This is why your DCN should have unique identifiers or elements to it. This way, you can prevent the risk of having duplicate DCNs in or out of your practice. Lastly, you should always double-check before sending the claims for reimbursements.
3. Organize your documentation and recordkeeping
It’s crucial that you maintain detailed records of all assigned DCNs to your claims. This includes dates, claim information, and any related documentation. All these will help you in case of future audits or disputes on your claims. To make it easier for your staff, you can consider partnering with a medical bookkeeping service instead.
4. Perform regular audits
When it comes to DCNs, you shouldn’t wait for errors to happen before you take action. We recommend conducting periodic internal audits of your all claims and their DCNs. This way, you can spot discrepancies or errors before they become a big problem. Also, these audits will let you identify error patterns, which can help you adjust your system.
5. Invest in Training and Education
It’s important that your billing staff is trained to handle, track, and check DCNs. This way, you can avoid costly errors, which can lead to claim denials and rejections. Overall, your training should include the proper formatting of DCNs, how to assign them, and how to correct possible mistakes.
Document control numbers (DCNs) are more than just a string of numbers and letters. It’s important to keep your claims processing organized while avoiding duplicate or lost claims.
Also, DCNs help you track each claim to help ensure timely payments from various payors. When claims are paid on time, your entire practice will enjoy uninterrupted cash flow.