Most medical practices are looking for more ways to increase revenue and close the gaps in delayed payments. Added to all of the latest trends in financial management are new regulations and changes in patient payment dynamic. Understandably, many practice managers find the overload of information counterintuitive to making sound changes that will beneficially impact their bottom line.
While there are certainly upgrades that should be taken into account where EHR and payment portals are concerned, there are some more common sense approaches to increasing revenue and filling those gaps that should be undertaken by every practice. The front desk is where your patient's journey begins and it's the best place to start measures to better meet patient payment goals.
Common Sense Methods to Improve Revenue Cycle at the Front Desk
Below are a few common sense methods that can help improve your revenue cycle by increasing front desk revenue.
1. Using Eligibility Verification Software.
Most medical practices use some form of eligibility verification. Often offices can cut corners because everyone's busy, but leaving this step until after the patient visit has proven to be detrimental to revenue cycle management, more so as patient responsibilities have climbed and practices rely more on out-of-pocket payments in their yearly income. Enlisting the help of software to quickly check patient's eligibility eliminates scenarios where the patient's plan has expired or the carrier does not cover certain procedures. Once patient information is in the system, it can be checked on the staff's schedule at any point prior to visits so that patients who are not covered can be notified and alternate payment arrangements can be made.
2. Scheduling Patients More Efficiently.
How patient visits are scheduled impacts practice revenue in a number of ways. First, bad time management can mean that fewer patients are seen and therefore billed. Another issue is in making patients wait for prolonged periods due to ineffective scheduling – this situation can be detrimental to the patient's overall experience and can cause a loss of patients. Each practice is slightly different in this area, so it's important to take a look at the specific problems for the individual practice. For example, a practice that sees a significant lag time in admitting patients prior to appointments due to paperwork and billing requirements might opt to have patients fill out all of the necessary information prior to appointments or have them log into a patient portal to update information independently. This approach eliminates the wasted time between when the patient arrives at the doctor's office and when staff can get their information into the system and move them through to their appointment.
3. The Touchy Business of Up Front Payment.
No one particularly likes to work with the collections end of dealing with the patient and many staff members can shy away from demanding payment unless it's a required part of their responsibility. Practices today are seeing more success with requiring co-pays and deductible payments up front, whether this means sitting down with the patient to work out a schedule or enlisting a card on file program to collect payments automatically. Making a standard office protocol that no patient will be seen without upfront payment for services takes the pressure off of your staff – they feel more comfortable asking patients for payment up front when it's clearly stated to them in advance that it's expected. Likewise, when patients are aware of their responsibility ahead of time, they're more likely to come prepared with full payment.
While there are a number of ways to streamline any practice's efficiency and organization, these three common sense methods can definitely improve revenue management from the front desk on.