7 steps to streamline your collectibles

7 steps to streamline your collectiblesWell-run practices watch their collections like hawks. Because they collect 97 to 100 percent of their adjusted production, they earn more profit. They re

7 steps to streamline your collectibles

Well-run practices watch their collections like hawks. Because they collect 97 to 100 percent of their adjusted production, they earn more profit. They regard accounts receivable as money that is simply in the wrong bank.

If you want to get all of your money, you might want to initiate seven key strategies.

1. Do not extend credit to patients. Get patients to pay their portions in advance or as they go. Give them options. Accept credit cards and automatic bank account debits. Make arrangements with finance companies. Give discounts to cash patients. If necessary, make them charity cases or refer them out. Do not become a credit company.

2. Solve collection problems in advance with financial policy agreements. Give each patient a financial policy to sign. Have a different policy for each case type. Do not try to lump all the rules for all types of patients into one big policy. It will be confusing and miss important points.

For example, the insurance patients' policy deals with co-pays and annual deductibles. It addresses all contingencies, like what happens if the insurance company sends the check to the patient, denies payment or reduces fees.Your managed care patient policy contains a few different rules. Same with your policy for cash patients, Medicare patients and so on. Your consultant has samples for you to use.

3. Enforce finance policies. Once you have established written policies for collections with your patients, make your staff enforce them to the letter. Do not allow exceptions.

4. Never avoid money discussions. Talking to patients about money should be as easy as talking to them about their health or their families. Discussing and resolving money issues is important if you truly care about the patient's well being. You refuse to allow a patient's financial issue to stop a needed procedure.

5. Give your collections manager priorities. Examples: Setting up a new patient in the computer is more important than fixing an old account. Getting weekly statements sent takes priority over sending accounts to a collections agency. Training an employee to enter data correctly is more important than fixing data entry errors.

6. Manage collections by the numbers. Monitor your collections staff's productivity with statistics. Each week, find out how many calls they made to patients and insurance companies. How much did they collect over the counter? How much came in from each payment source? Did accounts receivable totals increase or decrease? You can then set quota targets and reward improved performance.

7. Give insurance companies no slack. The longer an insurance company can hold your money, the more money they make. Start with clean claims. Ensure that your patient data is accurate. Include a report or other documentation you know the insurance company will want.

Contest every denial and reduction. Write letters if you want, but phone calls are more effective. If needed, ask the patient to talk to their employer. The employer has more clout than you.

From ExechTech consulting, 800-555-6063, www.exectechweb.com.