Collecting from patients is hard! Patients often play emotional poker when your staff requests a payment. Countless clever excuses result in a patient leaving your practice without fulfilling their financial obligation. Due to the opaqueness of medical charges and insurance coverage, 70% of patients are confused by their medical bills. Medical bills often contain jargon rarely understood by the average consumer. However, your practice is a for-profit organization. It is critical to establish financial touchpoints with patients that provide guidance and communicate how to pay their outstanding balance.
The first step is to educate the front-desk staff on the revenue cycle. If you have an in-house billing department, leverage this resource to develop educational materials. Alternatively, ask that your lead medical biller host a luncheon training session for all front-desk employees. The training session should cover the following topics:
- CPT codes
- Patient forms
- Required patient documentation
- Non-covered service
- Encounter form
- Explanation of Benefits (EOB)
By working as a cohesive team, the sum is greater than the individual parts. Front-desk staff members must develop an understanding of how their work impacts other roles within your organization. For example, the most common reason for denials is omission or inaccurate demographic information. Medical billers must spend a significant amount of time to correct and resubmit the claim. Their time spent on denials reduces the medical biller’s availability to process claims. Front-desk staff members can help eliminate unnecessary roadblocks for co-workers when they understand how their work impacts other roles.
Designate an isolated area within the office that offers privacy away from the lobby. Use this space for private consultations to discuss the balance and co-pay the patient will owe at check-out. Your patients will appreciate the gesture. Most patients do not prefer to broadcast their finances to other patients in the waiting area.
Develop conversation scripts for the front-desk staff. Wording and tone of voice significantly influence the ability to collect. Instead of asking, “Would you like to pay?” state, “How would you like to take care of your payment today?”. The former implies that payment is optional, while the latter communicates that your practice expects to receive a payment.
Establish a goal-orientated competition and track the results by each front-desk member:
At the end of each month, share and review the results with the front-desk team. Award the top employee (based on co-pay % and collection %) a nominal monetary incentive or gift card. This competitive exercise will help instill training and motivate underperforming employees.
Help patients understand why your practice requires a payment, the source of the balance, and educate the patient on their financial responsibility as a patient. Patients are often confused by their health benefits and coverage. Use this as an opportunity to differentiate yourself from other practices in the area. Your clinic will engender trust by helping to educate patients on their benefits and the cost of receiving care from your practice.
Do you need help developing training for your front-desk staff? Schedule a complimentary consultation today to get started: