With all of the changes that practices have instituted, practices generally are only collecting 30 percent of the 30 percent that is responsible by the patient. I never knew there was something magical about 30 percent until now! So, how does a practice increase their percentage of collection? Two words: USE TECHNOLOGY. Technology is actually not a bad word. I’ve seen many practices feel that if the Internet is available, the employees will surf the web instead of working. Since there is technology available to limit where anyone can go, this is really not the issue it may have been many years ago.
There is technology available to log onto different insurance company websites providing a close approximation of what the patient share will be. Or, you can use even better technology and have one software product that will do that for you with all insurances that are capable of this type of electronic transaction. Then you know exactly how much to charge the patient while they are still standing in front of you. As we all know, it is easier to collect while they are still there versus after the visit when they forgot how much they needed your services! Here is where training front desk staff on how to be professional, firm, and soundly patient-centric is of paramount importance. I really can’t stress enough how important that "first person that meets the patient and the last person they see before they leave" is. Your practice can literally thrive or decline on that one person, alone.
Now, there is actually one more step that can be taken that would help your receivables. There are programs that will help you set up payment plans by check, credit card(s), or automatic withdrawal from a patient’s checking account. The patient is told how much they will owe, what the payment arrangements will look like, and they sign a form giving their permission to set up this payment schedule. This way, if the amount owed is a little steep for a patient in one payment, the front desk person can work with the patient to make the payments more palatable. Then once the schedule is set up, the doctor no longer needs to worry about that payment as it is automated. The patient feels the doctor’s office is working with him or her and the public relations effect is much better.
Some of the technology I have seen is amazingly reasonable in price and when you consider how much more a practice will take in, the software pays for itself immediately. It’s not often the ROI (Return on Investment) shows such a great turnaround so quickly. With everyone having to do more with less, I strongly urge you to incorporate technology to make your practice work more effectively for you. Remember, technology isn’t a boogie man who is trying to make your work harder; it is a tool to help your practice work more efficiently.
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