2017 Checklist: Readiness tips for the front desk

Are you looking for ways to improve your practice’s financial performance in 2017? Most of it can start at your front desk.

As is typical with services or appointments at most physician’s offices, asking your patients to pay at the time of service shouldn’t be a big surprise to them. We know that at times it can be difficult to discuss finances, but by doing so early and often, your practice can save time and money in not having to make collection calls or pay agency fees when you are forced to send an account to collections. On top of that, you’re saved the stress of wondering whether or not you can make payroll for the staff.

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The first key is to get the entire office on board with new collection processes, ones where you are all talking the same language and there are no mixed messages. Phrases like, “don’t worry about the cost” or “we can work with you” will likely lead to extensive collection times and upset patients.

Don’t miss these eight other tips the front desk can start now to make for a successful 2017.

  • Review your schedule for the next day and identify anyone who has a balance due. If possible, prepare these patients prior to their appointment about the unpaid balance.
  • Re-verify benefits of existing patients. Often times while their insurance provider might not change, other critical information can – such as deductible amounts, benefits, and copays. If necessary, be prepared with additional part-time help in your practice at the beginning of the year to get ahead of the game.
  • Start a payment plan discussion early on in a plan of care. Patients are much more likely to stick to a payment plan when it is made early on and they understand their obligations before their visits.
  • Be aware of the sensitive nature of these discussions. If you are in an open space (like a gym), take the conversation to a private room.
  • Collecting from a patient can bite you if they overpay and you do not routinely process refund checks. Get into the habit of reviewing credits monthly and issue refunds when appropriate.
  • Ask your patients to review your payment policy each year. It is a good way to remind them of payment expectations especially in the beginning of a benefit period where out of pocket expenses are higher.
  • Does your patient have an HSA or FSA account? Remind them that PT can be a great way to use the remainder of funds that may otherwise be lost.
  • Think about adding incentives for your patients. Do you have a patient with a large balance? Consider offering a small reduction in turn for a one-time payment in full.

By going through this checklist at the end of 2016, you are ensuring a healthy and successful start to 2017. What’s on your checklist to hit the ground running in the new year? Let me know in the comments!

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