Front desk collections are a key component of a profitable healthcare office, yet, they are often one of the most overlooked areas. Many offices rely almost solely on insurance collections, often overlooking patient collections.
When done right, patients are easy to collection from. I'm going to show you how I walked into an office and within two weeks, had 10xed their patient collections WITHOUT increasing new patients.
Ready? Here we go:
Make sure someone is there to collect.
I know that sounds simple, however it's often overlooked. Have someone at your front desk who's job it is to collect patient co-pays and balances. I've seen many a front desk that have staff sitting there but do they know it's their job to collect? Do they make a point of collecting from each patient with a balance?
Just about the worst person you can have at the front desk is a doctor who doesn't like asking patients for money. Listen, I get it. You're there to help. The money isn't your thing. Then don't sit at the front desk!
Put someone at the front desk who isn't afraid to ask for money. Don't let anyone who is inclined to say "don't worry about it" sit at the front desk.
Ensure they know WHAT to collect.
Seems simple enough but poorly done insurance verification, backlogged EOBs and confusing software can all make this task impossible.
If the insurance verification is done incorrectly, you won't know what to collect.
If the EOBs are backlogged and not entered into the software, you won't have current balance information.
If your software has no place to remind you that the patient has a $20 co-pay of if the front desk can't access it and doesn't know the last visit went to deductible and the patient now has a balance, you won't have efficient front desk collections.
As a side note, trying to collect money the patient doesn't owe can upset the patient and makes your office look unorganized. This happens when patient payments that were already made are not entered into the software in a timely manner.
If your revenue cycle is in good shape, none of the above should be happening.
Make sure they are asking for the money.
Again, super simple but you'd be surprised how many people have a problem asking someone to pay for something. Just make sure your front desk person doesn't have any backoff asking someone to pay for their visit. And don't let anyone who doesn't want to ask for money sit at the front desk.
Send patient statements!
Sometimes not everything can be collected at a the front desk. Maybe the flow of your office, software or billing service makes this a little harder. That ok IF you are sending patient statements in a timely manner.
Don't wait 6 months or a year to send statements. Putting too much time between the visit and the statement decreases your chances it will get paid.
Waiting until a large balance has accrued is likely to upset the patient, make payment that much more unlikely AND stop the patient from coming into the office for future treatment.
Healthy patient collections is a team effort that consists of several different factors running efficiently.
If your patient collections need improvement, check out my "Maximizing Front Desk Profitability" Course.
Jessica Rose Greenwood
Jessica is the owner of JMK Billing, a Billing Specialist and expert in office management