There should be one policy and one policy only for all medical practices: To collect monies owed by patients at the time of their office visit. This policy needs to be communicated to patients on a regular basis, as for example at the time of their appointment as just discussed above. Any breakdown in this part of the billing and collection process will have a direct impact on the cash flow of the practice. Any breakdown also has a direct impact on the receivables management process in that it is costly and a waste of staffs’ time to try to collect small deductibles and copayments. Not having this policy at all has a direct impact on the billing process in that more claims will have to be filed than is ordinarily necessary. This takes up valuable staff time and will obviously delay cash flow.
Your financial analysis of the accounts receivable is usually a good indicator of whether or not the office has a visit collection policy and whether or not it is being followed. As will be discussed later on in this chapter, the analysis of front desk collections could also be an indicator (refer to section on patient checkout). To further the receivables analysis, obtain a current detailed aged accounts receivable listing by patient name. Scan the report for all balances $200 or less; are there many? Couldn’t these amounts have been collected by front desk personnel as they checked out the patients?