Many patients today have increased deductibles and copayment amounts, which means that orthopaedic practices should pay more attention to front-desk collections procedures. If the front desk staff does not collect from the patient while the patient is still at the practice, the results will be less revenue, weaker cash flow, and more work.
The key to improved front-desk collections is preparation. The following steps will help maximize results.
1. Start 2 days in advance
Front-desk staff should review the accounts receivable for each scheduled patient 2 days before the patient’s appointment. Patients with balances that are still outstanding should be given reminder calls or emails about the amount owed.
Alternatively, those patients can be asked to call a specific member of the billing staff to confirm their appointments. When the patient calls, the staff member can remind the patient about the outstanding balance.
Patients who have larger balances due and those who have long-standing balances should be asked to deal with these accounts to keep their appointments. These patients should also be referred to a specific billing staff member.
Many practices are finding it more effective to do reminders by email. Every effort should be made to update patient demographics with email addresses.
2. The day before the appointment
Either the day before, or coupled with previous account checks, review the accounts of all established patients with scheduled appointments for the following information:
- Insurance eligibility—Verify that the patient is still actively covered by the plan. If the patient is no longer covered by the plan, billing staff should contact the patient for current information.
- Deductible amount—Determine whether a deductible is due. If so, this should be noted in the appointment schedule.
- Copayment amount—Note the amount of the copayment due in the appointment schedule.
Many practices pay billing clearinghouse services to check and submit their bills to payers. For an additonal $80 to $125 per physician, per month, these clearinghouse systems can provide data on patient eligibility, deductibles, and copayments.
These preparatory steps will lessen pressures on front-desk staff and will result in much improved collections results.
George Conomikes is president and CEO of Conomikes Associates, Inc., a medical practice management consulting and publishing firm based in San Diego. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org