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I frequently get calls from practices looking for help with billing. I’ve come to believe that many practices miss the forest for the trees on this subject.
Here is a list of some of the biggest areas for error in billing. Practices that don't get these things right are hurting themselves:
Get time-intensive patient collection activities out of the billing office - and into the front office. It's a waste of resources to call a patient 10 times after he's left your practice, particularly when he was standing in front of you in the office and you failed to ask him to pay you then!
Unfortunately, these phone calls are also usually unsuccessful. It is far better to get patient collections done at check-out - or even check-in - when the patient is still in the office, feeling good about your service. Cross-train your front office staff to collect at the time of service; collecting copays and so forth is not a job for the billing office. At the very least, make sure your statements are accurate and legible - so patients are more likely to pay if you do send an invoice - and maintain a good relationship with your collection agency. Don't be afraid to send them work before the accounts get too old.
Here are some more tips:
Get these fundamentals right and leave the fancy footwork for later.
Elizabeth Woodcock, MBA, CPC, is a professional speaker and consultant specializing in practice management. Elizabeth is a Fellow in the American College of Medical Practice Executives and a Certified Professional Coder. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via email@example.com. For more information about Elizabeth, see www.elizabethwoodcock.com.
This article originally appeared in the February 2006 issue of Physicians Practice.