How to Improve Collections in Your Practice
It just doesn’t make sense to you. Case acceptance is up, yet revenues are down. You should be paid for the services you provide, yet you still seem to be struggling to make ends meet. This is frustrating, but there’s a simple explanation. The trouble lies in collections.
According to the industry standard, you should be collecting 98% of “net” production, which is the total charges to patients less any adjustments that affect those charges. That might include insurance adjustments, bad debt write-offs and courtesy adjustments. For practices accepting insurance assignment, over-the-counter collections should range between 40-45% of total production.
Not the case in your practice? It might be time to make some changes to improve your collections and boost your revenues. Here are a few tips:
Train your team. Make sure the person you put in charge of collections is properly trained for the job and comfortable making collections calls. Let the team member know just how important collecting payment is to the practice’s health and how often he or she needs to reach out to patients with outstanding balances. Develop a written script for these phone calls and use other methods to reach out to patients as well, such as snail mail, text and email.
Have a policy. If you don’t have one already, put together a financial policy that makes it clear when payment is expected. Here are a few things to consider including in your policy:
• Offer third party financing through a company like CareCredit
Grow over-the-counter payments. Finding a way to grow over-the-counter, or OTC, payments will also help get you closer to your collections goal. These are payments made at the front desk via check, cash or credit card for services provided that day. When you collect payment day of, you don’t have to worry about billing patients later. It might take a little bit of education, but eventually patients will get used to paying before they leave, saving you and your team time and headaches trying to collect payment later.
Don’t waste time waiting on insurance. If your practice accepts assignment of benefits, it’s important to determine how much insurance will cover without sending a pre-authorization. This just wastes time and might even keep patients from scheduling treatment. Patients are more likely to schedule right after they’ve heard the treatment presentation rather than two weeks later when you call them with insurance information.
Remember, you still need to contact the insurance company to determine the patient’s deductible, limitations, waiting periods and maximums, but your Financial Coordinator should be able to determine about how much patients will owe before they leave the practice. To avoid angry patients if the number is a bit off, be sure to explain this is your estimate, and final payment might need to be adjusted based on what their insurance agrees to cover.
Implement a Financial Agreement. Once patients are scheduled, I suggest giving them a Financial Agreement to complete. This should happen after the Financial Coordinator goes over the procedure, the fees and the patient’s expected portion. The agreement should include:
• Patient’s name
What’s the benefit of using this form? It makes it clear exactly how much the patient is expected to pay at the time of service. It also helps ensure the patient understands the amount quoted is only an estimate and could change once the insurance remits payment. If patients overpay, they’ll receive a refund check. If they underpay, they’ll need to take care of the balance. Patients should leave your practice fully understanding what they’re responsible for, making them more likely to pay on time.
It’s frustrating when you don’t get paid for services rendered. Follow these tips to improve collections and boost revenues in your practice.
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