Two Steps to Take to Improve Front-Desk Collections

July 13, 2016
George Conomikes

There are two simple steps practices can take to improve front-desk collections from their staff in the age of the high deductible.

The recent escalation of patient deductibles and copays has made it more difficult for the patient to be ready to pay for services at your practice. It is important for practices to educate and guide patients regarding their copays and deductibles.

The clue to improve your front-desk collections is preparation. If your front desk does not collect from the patient while at the practice then you will have less revenue, weaker cash flow, and more work.

Here is how to maximize your results:

Step 1:Two days in advance. Review the accounts receivable with the names of scheduled patients. Patients with still-outstanding balances should be given a reminder call or email that includes a reminder on the outstanding balance. Those messages ask these patients to call, by name, a billing staff member to confirm their appointment. When these patients call, they are reminded of the outstanding balance. With larger balances due, and some starting to age, patients are often asked to deal with these accounts in order to keep their appointments. This is why these reminder emails/calls need to be clear about the name and number of the key contact person in your billing staff.

Step 2: One day in advance. You may prefer to couple this with Step 1. All accounts of those scheduled should be reviewed. Most of the following three activities can be assisted by your clearinghouse. For each established patient:

- Determine their eligibility. Check if they are still actively in the plan. If not, a billing staff call to the patient should get more current data. And patient data can be updated at that time.

- Determine if any deductible is due. If so, this should be noted in the appointment schedule.

- Determine the amount of the co-payment. This should be noted in the appointment schedule.

Many practices are unaware that their clearinghouse systems can provide data on patient eligibility, deductibles, and copays. The following leading clearinghouse companies provide the usual claims submission functions, but also provide the data being sought in Step 2. Their customary charges, including all these services, are usually in the range of $80 to $125 per physician, per month. Clearinghouse companies: RealMed; Gateway; Navicure; and ZirMed.

These preparatory steps will lessen pressures on your front desk staff and will result in much improved collections results.