New Employee, Old Mess!
Dr. Sharon Butler– Case Study #233
Every now and then our office receives a call from a team member requesting information. Judy from Dr. Butler’s office had the opportunity to hear Sally speak at a state convention and was impressed with her knowledge and expertise after 30 years of consulting, so McKenzie Management was where she placed her cry for help.
“Yesterday was my first day of employment here at Dr. Butler’s office. The previous front office manager left without notice and I was hired to take her place. The office is a mess and I don’t know where to start!”
Dr. Butler’s practice mess:
Poor Judy has no idea where to start the attack on this mess. No wonder the previous employee left – she should have been fired! However, Dr. Butler was not monitoring practice statistics so she was not even aware of the situation.
It is reasonable to attempt to collect the recent unpaid accounts from 12 months to current. First, Judy was instructed to place a call to the patient and express her apology for the delinquent notice of their account and inform them that they would be receiving a statement in the mail in a few days. Did they have any questions? Since many of these patients were active patients, it was important to maintain the relationship. A statement was then placed in the mail to the patient and follow-up was applied. To aid in the distribution of these statements, Judy utilized computer-generated electronic statements through the practice software to avoid the need to print, stuff and mail the statements manually.
The credit balances needed to be addressed immediately. In many states, credit balances are to be refunded to the patient within 30 days of the receipt of the overpayment. Many of these credit balances were also several years old and the patients were no longer being seen. The first task was to attempt to contact the patient, inform them of the credit balance and ask if they would like to apply it to treatment planned dentistry. If the patient cannot be contacted by phone, a check should be mailed to the most current address with an “address service requested” written or stamped on the envelope. It is possible that the forwarding address has expired and the refund check will be returned. Judy should make a note in the computer that the check was returned and give it to Dr. Butler for an adjustment in QuickBooks.
Delinquent Insurance Claims
When necessary, statements are electronically submitted on a weekly basis to reduce the time needed to review each one individually. Statements are also sent immediately when the insurance payment is received. A telephone call is placed to the patient when the account balance is 45 days delinquent, confirming the address of the patient and informing the patient of the balance. If no contact can be made to the patient, a message is left requesting that the patient contact the office. Unpaid insurance claims are followed up after 15 days if submitted electronically, and 30 days if submitted by paper due to attachments (the office does not have digital radiographs to allow Judy to use Fast Attach).
A system of keeping “score” was instituted in the practice to monitor the monthly practice statistics. Dr. Butler was updated in a timely manner on the health of the practice. She would not find herself in this position again – no more messes to clean up.
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