Review some techniques you can implement at your front desk to improve your payment collections, schedule effectively and guarantee patient satisfaction.
The front desk is one of the most important roles in your medical practice. Front desk staff is the "face" of your practice, and also, the greeters responsible for making patients feel welcome. They also take a huge part on helping patients better understand their plans and enhance processes that can help you reduce your denials and improve the way you are collecting your payments.
On the second installment of our Best Practices webinar series, Caroline Balestra, Business Process Analyst at Health Prime, gave advice on how you can improve your front desk processes to help manage your medical practice smoothly.
Patients should be scheduled in a manner that promotes sufficient provider time for each visit and guarantees short waiting times. Long waits and limited access to care can put your practice in jeopardy as patients will tend to seek care elsewhere.
Insurance Verification & Authorization
The next step your front desk needs to do is verify insurance benefits and eligibility, which can include obtaining prior authorization in some situations. Recent data shows that while 79% of practices verified insurance information at the initial visit, only 25% verified coverage on subsequent or follow up visits.
“Verification on subsequent visits is crucial for reducing the amount of work on the back end. Front-end verification can reduce claim issues related to eligibility and benefits which reduces the chance of rejections and denials causing faster reimbursement turnaround times for insurance claims”.
Front office staff need to ask multiple questions to ensure they have verified the patient's insurance and that it's accurate and up to date. Run system eligibility checks to validate insurance information you have entered in your system either for a single patient or the entire schedule.
Make sure you have a standardized verification form that all staff can use with each patient depending on the services the physicians typically offer. Ensure that the questions to be asked of the payer includes everything you need so you can obtain all the information on the first attempt. Have a copy of this form and uploaded to the patients' chart so you have reference information in case your billing team needs it to support a claim.
The success or failure of each patient claim begins and ends in the front office. Patient insurance eligibility verification is the first—and perhaps most critical—step in the billing process. That means your front office must be on point when it comes to obtaining and accurately recording all this information.
Why do you need to get an Authorization for services that require it?
- Keep costs in check.
- Ensure medical necessity.
- Reduce duplicated services.
Without authorization, the insurance payer is free to refuse the payment of a patient's medical service as part of the health care insurance plan. “For any service that requires authorization, if you do not obtain one, your claim will must definitely be denied and likely never paid”, Balestra explained.
Prior authorization requirements can sometimes lead to delays or denials for care. These roadblocks cause frustration and worry for doctors, hospitals, and patients while adding to the mountain of paperwork doctors and hospitals must do.
Check-In & Check-Out Tips
For the check-in process:
- Manage phone interruptions: Have exclusive staff to answer incoming calls, billing inquiries and scheduling calls. By removing the distraction of answering the phone, your front desk staff can focus on greeting, reviewing paperwork, updating demographics, scanning copies of cards, and collecting payments.
- Practice excellence in customer service: Provide a positive experience for the patient. Front office staff are the “face” of the practice and the first employees that the patients encounter at their visit.
- Smile while collecting payment: Staff should greet every patient with empathy and a smile while remaining firm about collecting expected payments. Confidence in collections is key for this role.
- Scan new cards to the system: Have patients sign a financial policy prior to receiving services. Go over the intake paperwork and financial agreement with patients at their first appointment. Make sure they understand the details, allow them to ask questions. In the future, if they question your request for payment, you can refer them back to the policy that they signed and agreed to.
Some people might find it hard to ask for payments.
There are some strategies you can follow to help you with this task:
For the check-out process, make sure to make it as quick and effortless as possible. Remember timing is important, collect any remaining, schedule next visits, coordinate referrals and follow up care. Also, be prepared, compassionate and firm with the patients. Don't forget to ensure a great communication between front and back office (or billers).
Each patient who comes into the practice is a potential critic who can provide invaluable feedback. This plays a huge role in quality improvement and professional development. Measure your patient's satisfaction through different ways such as: online surveys, informal feedback, or voluntary events.
Once you have measured patient satisfaction, know and outline the mission at hand by breaking it down into long and short-term goals. Meet with your team to get ideas on ways to make the patients experience more enjoyable. Offer value-based services to improve your customer service. Sharing your knowledge can be a great way to give your patients some value. Think of providing a community forums or workshop on your website to provide helpful tools.
Remember to follow up the feedback your patients leave to ensure that your patients feel heard. Be sure to follow through with any change. Don't forget to reward your staff for the amazing customer service they provide to your patients.
We can Help!
Virtual Office - Prime Solutions
If you are a Health Prime client and interested in any of these services, feel free to reach out to your Operations Consultant so they can get you in touch with our Business Development team to see how we can help your front desk.
If you are not a client yet, feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com for more information on how you can improve your processes at the front desk and implement some of theses best practice with our help.
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