Financial Policy and Front Desk

February 9, 2018

Financial Policy

The beginning of a new calendar year is the perfect time to roll out a new financial policy to patients. Far too often practices fail to understand the importance of having a detailed policy that plainly explains what is expected of patients from a financial perspective. There are several questions that a practice should consider when considering changes in their financial policy:

  • Does it explain in detail how unpaid patient balances will be handled?
  • What are the terms for paying a balance?
  • Are payment arrangements available?
  • Does it specify exact fees that will be charged on unpaid balances after a certain aging date?
  • Does it detail a specific collection fee charge for balances sent to collections?
  • Details on who is responsible for outstanding balances for minors are handled? (i.e., divorce decree, parent/guardian bringing minor in for visit, etc.).

Another major area where practices fall short is having a strong financial policy and making sure it is signed/dated by the patient. I recommend that the patient be required to initial each bullet/section of the policy acknowledging they have reviewed each area. If a patient does not complete all required sections make sure it’s given back to them to complete.

In the end make sure your practice has a strong financial policy in place. More importantly stick to the terms of the policy. It may take some time to get all patients on board with changes but in the long run your practice will reap the benefits of a strong financial policy.

Front Desk

Far too often I hear comments from physicians like “It’s the front desk. How hard can it be?” or “All they do is check patients in/out and answer the phone.” When we hear comments like this we just shake our heads in wonder. If this is the attitude taken during the hiring process for the front desk then a practice is setting itself up for failure.

As we all know the front desk is an entry-level position. With that said, not just anyone can handle this position. When interviewing someone for a front desk position there are several questions that need to be answered. A few questions are:

* Can they multi-task? 

– Ask them to provide examples from previous work experience.

* Do they have good phone communication skills? 

– When you call to set up an interview, take note of how they communicate.

* Do they have good face-to-face communication skills?

– Get a basic idea just by how they communicate during the interview.

* Any experience handling money? (i.e., experience balancing a drawer, collecting co-pays, giving change, etc.)

– Provide a math test as part of the interview process.

The front desk staff are the people that often have the most interaction with a physician’s patients. This interaction is going to have a major impact on patient satisfaction. They are the people that patients are basing their first impression of an office.

A front desk staff’s actions can have a direct affect on the A/R of a practice too. If the staff does not have the personality to collect money that is due from a patient or is not able to work well with the billing department, then this can cause issues with a practice’s revenue flow. This is why great communication skills are a must.

Just remember the front desk represents a practice. They have the most interaction with patients and other employees. If there is a weakness with the front desk it affects everyone associated with the practice. More importantly, the front desk has an impact, good or bad, on every practice’s A/R.

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