Bad-debt Control Checklist to Improve Physician Practice Cash Flow – Part II


Do exceptions to approved guidelines require the approval of management on a case-by-case basis? ___ yes ___ no

If a guideline is implemented, it should be followed “to the letter.” However, there may be situations where the policy cannot or should not be followed. However, this is not a decision of the employee to make. Exceptions should be reviewed and approved by management before such action is undertaken. Make sure the exception is properly documented.

Do self-pay guidelines allow monthly payments on certain accounts? ___ yes ___ no

A sound bad debt policy will allow a patient to make installment payments on their account. Just make sure there is a review mechanism in place to make sure the patients that are allowed to make payments are actually making them each and every month.

Do self-pay guidelines specify the maximum number of payments that will be accepted? ___ yes ___ no If so, how many? _______________________

The installment policy should be fair to both the patient and the practice. It is crazy to allow a patient to pay $5 a month for ever until their balance is paid off. This really creates collection hassles for the practice. Set a reasonable length of time for time for the patient to pay off their account.

Do self-pay guidelines specify the minimum monthly payment amount that will be accepted? ___ yes ___ no If so, how much? ________________________

This ties in with the commentary above. The minimum amount to pay should tie in with the maximum allowed length of time a patient is allowed to pay off their account. Of the two, the maximum number of payments allowed is the most important. Fit and set the payment amount within this guideline.

Do collection guidelines specify what action should be taken if a patient misses a payment? ___ yes ___ no If so, describe the policy.

The point to be made here is to set a policy and stick to it. If the policy is to turn the patient over to collection if two consecutive payments are missed, then make sure this policy is adhered to and if exceptions are made, they are made with management’s approval.

Does management support the collection guidelines, even when a patient complains? ___ yes ___ no

It is useless to implement a policy and then have the doctors not follow it. There must be a “buy in” to the guidelines by every doctor within the practice. In other words, they must support them. If not, policies and guidelines never get abided by and end up becoming a “joke.” Employees also get very confused on how to implement policies and guidelines when the doctors tell them different things and so does administration.

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