Communicate Cost for Satisfaction

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  • December 22, 2010
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Working with patients to assure everyone is accountable for the cost of care is essential to the success of a practice. Just as important is working out the processes and communications so that all are satisfied, which can assure patient retention. Here are two readers’ best-practice recommendations:
“Five years ago we implemented refined collection practices which made a substantial difference in our cash flow. We started by verifying all patients’ insurances prior to the date of service. We then ascertained the amount of co-pays and/or deductibles that are the patients’ responsibilities at the time of service. All current contracts and spread sheets of allowable per payer were reviewed. This was followed by staff training to calculate out-of-pocket percentages. A substantial impact on patient responsibility was then noted. Early notice to patients of their financial obligation has increased prompt collections. Payment plans are implemented for three months. Statements are sent bi-weekly. These processes have improved overall cash flow and reduced our account receivables.”
—Michele Thompson, CPC
Gainsville, GA
“Our obstetrics and gynecology practice is set in a community that has a high unemployment rate, which means people want to have surgery but may not come up with the money. Our practice originally would schedule the patients’ elective surgeries and require their portion of the payment be collected the Wednesday prior to surgeries which would be done on the following Monday. Patients were not paying but still getting their surgeries or the patients would call and cancel their surgeries last minute because they could not come up with the money. This would not allow us enough time to fill the doctors’ schedule again.
“Surgery scheduling is not a quick process and neither is cancelling. To help combat the cancelling and the wasting of employees’ and doctors’ time, we changed how we set up surgeries. We now verify the patients’ benefits prior to calling them. After verification is complete and we know the patients’ responsibility according to our fee schedule, we contact and inform them of their amount due. We inform them at that time we are unable to schedule until we receive their investment portion.
“Since we started this policy, we have only had a couple of patients complain. When this happens, we explain why we created the policy and they understand. It has helped with efficiency of the employees’ and the doctors’ schedule to remain consistent without many cancellations.”
—Kristin Terry, CPC
Spring Hill, FL

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