Improve Your Medical Practice Billing Process in a Few Simple Steps

March 1, 2014

Don't let your medical practice billing department drop the ball when it comes to great customer service.

My old primary-care physician was a really great physician.  She spent enough time with me, asked great questions, was always available, and took very good care of me. 

So then why is she no longer my physician after fifteen years? Because of the back-office billing staff.

They were rude, unorganized, didn't know how to post payments for the life of them, and continuously billed me in error.

This is a very, very common problem in most physician practices.  Have you read your Yelp or Healthgrades reviews?  They may say something like: “My doctor's care was great, but the billing office experience was awful.” 

If this is the case in your practice, fear not. I have cracked the code on customer service in the billing department.

At my practice, I started testing this new process after an outstanding brainstorming session with my staff.  They were very eager to change the flawed billing process, and we fumbled through a few revisions before we finally got it right.

Here's what we do:

• Once we close the month for processing, statements are run.

• Immediately, we review each and every statement.  It took us about three months to clean up the riff raff that was plaguing accounts receivable. 

• During the statement review,  we consider four important questions:
1. Did our system post the monies properly, and is this a true patient balance?
2. Has this patient been on the A/R list for more than 90 days? If yes, we send them a pre-collections letter.  If they then don't pay within 15 days, we send them to collections.
3. If the patient is showing a balance, is it because it was not processed by the insurance per the original verification?
4. If the patient is showing a balance, is it because it was not collected up front or posted properly in the system?  We also identify the exact date of service a payment is missing.

• Once we have reviewed all of the statements and we have identified true statement balances, we check in with the front-office staff to see if they have receipts for those specific dates of service.  If they have receipts, we post them and remove the statement from the list going out. 

• We document this information in an easy to access spreadsheet-type format so that when patients call in, we have already identified the problem and can quickly, and efficiently answer their question with full confidence.

By spending about four hours of time up front, we ended up saving three full-time staff the better part of an entire week that would have bent spent dealing with billing headaches.  That's pretty good ROI. 

Make strides towards providing a good billing experience for your patients.  We have and it has made all of the difference in the world.  Remember, “That's just the way it is” is a crutch and an excuse for not being brave enough to change what needs changing.