Do you know what the #1 most effective way to improve surgery center patient collections?
A) Use in-house billing staff
B) Use professional trainers to improve your in-house billing staff
C) Use outside billing staff
D) None of the above
The correct answer is D) None of the above. If your in-house billing staff or outside billing company spends a significant amount of time and resources on patient collections it may be costing your facility a lot of money. Deductible and coinsurance amounts are increasing year-over-year and patient balances account for a large portion of your surgery centers income. There is no time better than the present to review your current patient collection strategy. Consider a patient collection strategy that will improve patient collections and allow you to redirect the time and resources of your billing staff to tackle other revenue improvement tasks.
Rule 1 – The most effective collections staff in your office isn’t the billing department.
The most effective collections staff you have is actually sitting right behind your front desk. If you focus on front end cash flow up front, your billing department can then focus their time on the back end cash flow. Insurance providers like Cigna are coming down really hard on surgery centers across the nation that aren’t attempting to collect out-of-network patient balances. Remember, your surgery center doesn’t have to be in-network to enforce this requirement, it’s just as important if you are out-of-network.
Rule 2 – Failing to pre-register your patients is a mistake.
Your front office staff should obtain patient and insurance information immediately. Gathering the insurance provider and policy number is a critical step that too many surgery centers are not enforcing. Your front desk staff may not be doing this is fear of being on the phone too long and not having time to complete other tasks. They may need some guidance and training on the management of their time and how to most effectively communicate with patients. Another reason may be as simple as not setting the right expectations and priorities with your staff. You know out-of-pocket costs are climbing at record speed. Get your staff on the right track now. Waiting to collect information when the patient arrives can result in delays if there are problems or incorrect information provided.
Rule 3 – Allowing your patients to have an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality will hurt you.
In most cases your patient will never value your services more than at that moment they’re standing in your surgery center. It’s at that moment your patient sees, touches and feels everything around them. Once they step foot out the door you are allowing patients to step into an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. When they return home there are other bills to pay, maybe they decide the service they received wasn’t as good as they had hoped, maybe their car breaks down and suddenly there a number of other things more important. After all, they have already gotten what they needed or wanted from you.
Share patient collection strategies from your surgery center by posting a comment below. And, read our next post, A Profitable Collection Strategy – Part 2, where abeo provides more helpful information and strategies to help you improve cash flow.