Tracking Patient Collections a Necessity at Your Medical Practice

August 17, 2013
P.J. Cloud-Moulds

Here are tips that require your front desk to be accountable for all the money coming in and going out of your office to avoid possible embezzlement.

As a physician, do you know how many patient collections (copay, coinsurance, deductible, etc.) are paid by credit card, check, or cash? You might be surprised to know that cash is still a very viable form of payment by a lot of people. With so many people out of work, they have to budget their money very carefully. One way they are doing this is really buckling down on expenses and using cash as often as feasibly possible. It makes sense, really, to those who are disciplined enough to not impulse buy.

This said, do you have a way of tracking the money coming in and the money going out of your practice? I really hate to be the person who points this out, but under certain circumstances, even your most trusted front-desk person might "misplace" some of the cash that should be deposited into your bank account. Many employees don't understand and don't have all of the information about the financial health of your practice; nor should they. Their mindset might be, "They have enough and I'm barely scraping by (because I just bought that third pair of really cute shoes)." For whatever reason, money may be leaving your facility without your knowledge.

Here are some ideas to stop this now and prevent this temptation in the future.

• Create a simple spreadsheet that can be placed in the desk of the front-office staff collecting the copays. This should include the patient name, description of the money in, or money out, the amount that was paid, and today's date.

• At the beginning of each day, the front-office person counts the money in the cash box. Any money over a set amount (by you – say $100) should be "deposited" to you or your practice administrator. Those monies then need to be tracked and deposited in the bank with a deposit slip showing this same amount.

• Throughout the day, the front-office person will write down every single payment (cash or not) on the spreadsheet. This can also be a digital document, programmed to record all calculations. The reason you need to write down every single payment is because this will ensure that each patient who owes has been collected on.

• If someone in the office borrows money for an employee lunch, office supplies, etc., that needs to be recorded and calculated in a cash-out area at the end of the day.

• At the end of the day, all the money in and out should balance. The front-office staff is required to manage the cash flow of the practice. The practice administrator or manager needs to sign off on a weekly basis, how the week's in and out activity has occurred.

By following these simple steps, it will insure your practice collects what is necessary, patients do not receive a bill, money get deposited into your bank account, and there are no questions of where the funds have gone.