When Does the Revenue Cycle Begin?
Your revenue cycle begins at the front desk, as this is the area that typically receives intake information. If your practice uses a self-service kiosk, your patients can also benefit when you arm your front desk team with essential billing knowledge.
Front Desk Professional
A front desk pro can make a big difference within the first 30 seconds of patient interaction. Many are confused about the current health care environment and myriad of coverage plans. Your staff needs to have the confidence to convey to patients what to expect at your practice. For example, telling a patient s/he has a deductible of $6,000 and a co-pay of $50 up front smooths the way for future billing and financial transactions.
It might make sense to separate or rotate the phone answering and scheduling from the main front desk intake person at least for certain times of the day. That way this person can focus on the patient right in front of him/her and collect money due up front.
Patient Billing Information
Make sure you ask to see the insurance card at each visit to compare what's on file. It may have changed. Retain a copy of the front and back of the insurance card. Ditto for anygovernment-issued ID. Check your practice management software for insurance verification updates and access insurance estimate tools so you can provide patients with their expected financial contribution.
Make it Clear, Make it Easy
Your financial policies should be posted in the office and freely discussed so the patient understands them. For example, on your appointment reminder call, let the patient know you collect fees and co-pays at the time of visit or that you do not make future appointments until all outstanding fees are paid. To make it easy to collect, utilize as many payment channels as possible and be sure the patient understands their options. A credit card on file has worked well for many practices. It appears to be a relatively painless way for many patients to pay, resolves balances faster, and reduces labor costs in chasing money.
Keep it Businesslike
You need to decide how far to push for payments. Using an early out option may be worth thinking about to enhance the number of contacts and to perform time consuming follow up receivables management tasks. Then, after all efforts are exhausted, use a third party debt collection agency for remaining balances.
If you do keep collections in-house, stay consistent. Make sure the patient understands that you adhere to the financial policy unless there are mitigating circumstances.