To garner participation from office-staff in committing to asking patients for payment at the time of visit, establish graduated expectations for improvement over a specific period of time. Provide staff with sample scripts and/or talking points on how to collect. Well trained staff may be your biggest asset toward improved collections. Monitor staff’s performance each week and share the results. Some practices offer bonuses when staff hit certain targets as an incentive to improve collections. Depending on the practice, the reward might be a set dollar amount, salary percentage or portion of above-goal collections. Indicators to watch include upfront collection percentage, gross collection percentage, total accounts receivable and days in accounts receivable. If your staff struggles to hit the targets, provide additional support to teach them the skills necessary to overcome obstacles and obtain patient payments. Incentive programs should involve and benefit every employee of the practice. Managing patient collections is the responsibility of the entire practice and all staff should be prepared to discuss payment at all appropriate points in the course of care and, ideally, be able to answer patients’ questions about what they owe.
By taking steps to collect patient payments at the time of the visit, you can significantly reduce your practice’s billing and collection efforts. When front office staff is careful to verify insurance before the visit, inform patients of collection procedures ahead of time, and collect payments at the time of service consistently, then your practice’s billing staff has a lighter work load and can focus on other areas of billing and collections.
But when you do have to begin the cycle of billing patients for outstanding balances, work to achieve a patient-friendly look and feel to your billing statement. Patient invoices should clearly explain the dates of service, services performed, insurance payments, payment collected at time of service (co-pays, deductibles), and the total amount due. Patient invoices should be sent as soon as the EOB is posted, because the sooner an invoice is received by the patient, the more likely and faster it will be paid.
With more transparent, patient-friendly billing processes in place, significant savings in the administrative costs associated with inefficient processing and collections can be achieved, thus cutting out a tremendous amount of bad debt that would otherwise be written off.
Remember, a patient-friendly experience begins the moment the patient walks into your practice. Do not miss the opportunity to create a favorable, patient-centered experience. By making adjustments to the manner in which your practice interacts with patients, your practice can build a more positive patient experience, ultimately establishing a more cost-effective workflow within your office.