Ask Amy: Increasing collections

March 21, 2012

Amy Morgan is CEO of the Pride Institute. With Pride since 1993, she is a sought-after educator who still consults one-on-one with practices.

Amy Morgan is CEO of the Pride Institute. With Pride since 1993, she is a sought-after educator who still consults one-on-one with practices.

Q:What are some specific ways we can increase our collections immediately?

When it comes to collections, there are the proactive steps you can take for prevention and the reactive steps to take when you already have the problem! In either case, these steps require focus, black and white guidelines for protocols and agreed upon benchmarks to monitor success.

Prevention

For prevention and immediate collection increases, ask the following questions:

1. Do we have a specific protocol that the entire team can collaborate with each other to accomplish for collecting the appropriate co-pays at the time of service?
2. Are we collecting 30-40% of our current monthly collections over the counter?
3. Do we offer a courtesy adjustment to inspire patients to pay in full for significant treatment?
4. Are we offering auto-debit, online or automatic credit card payments for patient portions versus sending statements and waiting for the paper check?
5. Do we have an effective e-claims system that turns around most insurance payments in 10 days or fewer?
6. Do we have an effective insurance information system that allows us to keep track of current benefits so estimates are accurate?
7. Do we have black and white guidelines on what we are willing to write off as credit adjustments when it comes to discounts, employee dentistry, trades, etc?

If you answered no to any or many of these questions, then “the ship has sailed,” so to speak, and you may have a collections or accounts receivable challenge. The team needs to analyze the issue and take immediate steps to tackle the problem.

Reaction

To handle collection challenges, the team can reactively address the issue by doing the following.
1. Run an accounts receivable report from 0 to 120+ days. Highlight the reports in 4 colors.

  • Insurance related receivables under 20 days (no apparent glitch or problem)

  • Insurance related receivables over 20 days (possible glitch)

  • Patient Portion, on a written financial arrangement and complying

  • Patient Portion, either not written or non-compliant

This helps the team to focus in on the area of concern so the issue can be addressed.

2. Once you identify an insurance or patient portion issue, start with 10 names at a time (usually highest balances first) and create specific, customized plans to address one account at a time.
3. Analyze what created the challenges in the first place and adapt your proactive financial guidelines to address the problem.
4. Work with your financial coordinator to create black and white collections protocols. Include issues such as the number and frequency of phone calls or letters and how to handle an “uncollectible” account.
5. Make sure you have verbal and written templates for the most successful follow-up calls and letters so patients are inspired to WANT to pay the balance. And make sure you have had enough training and practice to address any and all obstacles that may arise from the calls or letters.

It takes hard work and effort to turn a collections challenge around. A “spray and pray” approach during this difficult economy will create frustration for the team and the patients. If you follow these suggestions, you will be able to successfully shout-a la Jerry Maguire- “They showed us the money!”

Look for more practice management advice from Pride Institute's Amy Morgan in DPR's June “Think Like a CEO” management supplement. For information about Pride Institute's team motivation seminars, call 800-925-2600 or visit www.prideinstitute.com.

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION FOR AMY? E-mail your questions and ideas to tcarter@advanstar.com

 

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