Collecting every dollar owed in a medical practice or any small business can prove to be quite a challenge in these hard economic times. If your staff members are not well-trained in the collection policies and processes for your business you may be losing money on a daily basis.
Here is an example of what happened in our office just last week. A patient came in for her scheduled visit and when our front office assistant asked her for her copayment along with an unpaid balance for two prior copayments, the patient said “I don’t have it” plain and simple.
Our front office assistant replied “our policy is that your copayment is due at the time of your visit and if we have to bill you for this there will be an additional billing charge added to it”. The patient said again “I don’t have the money” and added “ also when you bill my insurance you will probably get a denial because it is in between policies and something has gone wrong.”
As I overheard the conversation I walked up to the front window and looked at the patient’s chart and noticed that she had also cancelled her last two appointments. I asked her how she was doing and she said she was doing quite well but came to the appointment because she felt bad that she had cancelled her last two.
We talked about her situation and I let her know that we would be glad to see her, but she would have to pay since we could not verify that her insurance was active. She did not want to incur anymore bills and was happy that she was allowed not to be seen and was not charged a cancellation fee.
We then talked about arrangements for her balance and a future appointment once she had her insurance situation fixed. As an aside, her medical problem was not one of any threat to her health, it was an elective situation.
I was very thankful that we have financial policies in place and we were able to take care of the situation without causing this patient any further financial issues and our doctor providing services that may not be paid for or that we would lose money by trying for fight for payment later.
Financial policies and the costs involved in running any small business need to be reviewed with all office staff. When everyone understands the importance of collecting every dime owed and the effects it can have on the business if we do not, it makes collecting much easier.
It is also very important that each employee realize their paycheck comes from what the business earns and if they slack off and do not collect what is owed their job may be at jeopardy