Advice to help your front office staff start the billing process off right.
If you want your billing and collections to be as smooth and effective as possible, you need to make sure everybody on your team is doing their part.
Sometimes small tasks can fall through the cracks, and large ones can seem like more trouble than they’re worth. But when everyone on the team is focused on the goal, small tasks get done quickly and large ones seem easier. And when everyone is on top of their game, work runs more smoothly and your bottom-line will be healthier for it, says Tammie Olson, manager and coding and compliance strategiest at Management Resource Group.
Olson, who works at the Mississipi-based firm, offers financial management and support services for the healthcare community. She offers four suggestions to jump-start your billing and collections process, starting with your front office staff. Click here for advice on what your back office staff can do bolster collections.
Begin the collectious process even before the patient enters the door. Have staff verify insurance, confirm their copay, and review whether they have an unmet deductible. Also check to see if patients have an outstanding balance. For patients who have a balance but cannot pay in full, this is a good time to refer them to your back office staff who can ideally explain pre-established payment plans. Make sure staff communicate to patients that they are expected to pay in full or for an agreed upon payment amount on the day of the visit.
Mail paperwork to new patients ahead of their appointment. For patients who are new to the practice, send a welcome packet with all the paperwork they need to complete either by U.S. Postal Service or email. This will save time the day of the visit and will also give patients more time to ensure they get the details right. Be sure to include a copy of your office’s payment policy. Remind patients to bring the completed paperwork along with their insurance card and copay as well as detail the accepted forms of payment. For self-pay patients, let them know the minimum payment you expect at the time of the visit, and be sure to point out that it might be more depending on the services rendered.
Confirm insurance information is up-to-date. On the day of the visit, ask to see a copy of patients’ insurance cards. Insurance plans change more frequently these days, and patients often forget to contact the office to update their files. This is extremely important but often overlooked information. Otherwise, your practice will lose money since staff will have to spend time sorting through returned claims, locating and updating patients’ information, and resubmitting claims. Assuming those resubmitted claims will eventually be paid.
Double-check before patients leave the office. When patients get to check-out, your front desk still has to complete a few remaining billing tasks. Have the staff review the superbill or encounter form. Collect any additional money due from self-pay patients or procedures that were performed beyond a standard office visit. Make it as easy as possible for patients to pay. Allow payments through mobile devices, credit cards, patient portals, and also by old-fashioned bank checks. If the patients cannot pay in full, refer them to the back office to get on a payment plan.
When the front desk staff does their part, your billing and collections routine gets off to a smart start, and that eventually means more income for your practice.