Signing documentIn the fast-paced world of healthcare, efficient billing processes are crucial for maintaining financial stability and delivering quality patient care. One key aspect of effective billing is the prompt and accurate completion of proper documentation. In this blog post, we will explore the critical importance of proper documentation and how complete and timely documentation directly impacts the billing process. We will also discuss documentation standards favored by Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan documentation guidelines.

Proper Documentation Guidelines

The Michigan Association of Chiropractors’ Insurance Relations team recommends following Medicare documentation standards and BCBSM documentation guidelines, which can be found on Availity in the BCBSM provider manuals. Medicare’s guidelines are as follows:

New Patient / Established Patient with New Complaint (initial visit)

  1. History
  2. Present Illness, including:
    1. Mechanism of trauma
    2. Quality/character of symptoms
    3. Onset, duration, intensity, frequency, location, and radiation of symptoms
    4. Aggravating or relieving factors
    5. Prior interventions, treatments, medications, secondary complaints
    6. Symptoms causing patient to seek treatment
  3. Physical Exam (P.A.R.T evaluation)
  4. Diagnosis
  5. Treatment Plan, including:
    1. Recommended level of care (duration/frequency of visits)
    2. Specific treatment goals
    3. Objective measures to evaluate treatment effectiveness

Subsequent Visits

  1. History
  2. Physical Examination, including:
    1. Examination of area of spine involved in diagnosis
    2. Assessment of change in patient condition since last visit
    3. Evaluation of treatment effectiveness
  3. Documentation of treatment given on day of visit

Additional Information

For more information about Medicare billing and documentation requirements for active care:

BCBSM (and BCN) Provider Manuals can be found here. [Please note: You will have to sign in to see these manuals.]

The Significance of Proper Documentation to the Billing Cycle

Proper documentation serves as a comprehensive record of each patient visit, capturing essential information about their condition, treatment, and progress. It plays a pivotal role in ensuring accurate billing by providing a clear and concise account of the services rendered. The following are some key reasons why prompt, proper documentation is a critical component of efficient billing:

Accurate and Timely Claims Submission: Insurance companies require thorough documentation to process claims promptly. By promptly and properly completing their documentation, healthcare providers enable the billing team to submit accurate claims within the stipulated timeframe, reducing the risk of delayed or denied reimbursements. Swift claims submission ensures a steady cash flow and minimizes financial uncertainties.

Compliance with Billing Regulations: Healthcare billing practices are governed by various regulatory bodies, and adherence to their guidelines is crucial to avoid penalties and legal issues. Complete and proper documentation is essential for meeting these regulatory requirements and ensuring compliance with coding and billing standards. Failing to comply with regulations can result in financial losses and damage to the practice’s reputation.

Revenue Optimization: Prompt and proper documentation allows billing staff to start the reimbursement process without delay, helping to minimize cash flow gaps and optimize your revenue cycle. Delays can significantly impact the financial stability of a practice, hindering its ability to provide the best possible patient care. Efficient billing processes ensure your practice remains financially sound.

Best Practices for SOAP Note Completion

To ensure smooth billing processes, healthcare providers should adhere to the following practices when completing documentation:

  • Document immediately: Completing documentation as soon as possible after each patient encounter ensures complete and accurate information capture while the details are fresh in the provider’s mind, enhancing the overall quality of documentation and reducing the likelihood of errors or omissions.
  • Use clear and concise language: Avoid ambiguity or vagueness in all documentation. Clearly articulate the patient’s symptoms, objective findings, assessment, and the plan for further treatment or follow-up. Clarity in documentation minimizes the potential for billing errors or misinterpretation.
  • Ensure accuracy and completeness: Double-check your documentation for accuracy, completeness, and proper coding. Include all relevant details, such as procedures performed and diagnostic test results. Thorough and accurate documentation ensures transparent billing practices and minimizes the risk of claim denials.
  • Collaborate with the billing team: Maintain open lines of communication with your bilking staff to address any questions or concerns regarding documentation. The billing team’s expertise can provide valuable insights into optimizing the billing process and ensuring compliance with billing regulations.


Completing documentation promptly and accurately is essential for efficient billing processes and maximizing collections. By understanding the significance of documentation and following best practices, healthcare providers can streamline the billing process, maximize revenue, and provide quality care to patients. Effective documentation not only supports accurate claims submission, but also ensures compliance with regulatory requirements. Ultimately, the careful completion of documentation contributes to the financial stability and success of healthcare practices.

How can MichiCare help your practice?

MichiCare and our TEAM of experts can assist your practice in the following ways: